Many manufacturing facilities rely heavily on people working with machines that churn out products all day, every day. While you can take any number of safety steps to insulate those employees from risk, there is unfortunately always a safety hazard when working with such machines — and it's the company's job to make sure accidents don't happen on their watch.
The question is, how can they do that effectively? We have some suggestions that should prove critical to protecting employees as they work with and around these machines:
1) Don't take a one-size-fits-all approach to machine maintenance
You no doubt have a fairly comprehensive approach to maintenance when it comes to your production line, but you must understand that each machine should be evaluated and repaired on its own terms, according to Reliable Plant. Put another way, the wear and tear one machine takes on over the course of a month may be quite different from the machine right next to it, and the maintenance plan for both therefore should not be exactly the same. Instead, you must determine each machine's individual maintenance needs and proceed accordingly.
2) Provide training for all employees
While you likely train your employees who work directly with these machines about how to operate them safely, similar training for safe behavior around them is a must for everyone under your roof, Reliable Plant added. Why? You never know when someone's job duties will bring them into contact with a running machine, and you can't afford a single misstep.
3) Don't mess with existing safety measures
Your machines likely have a number of guards, doors or other safety features that reduce hazards for users, but sometimes even the best-trained employees may try to remove or alter them in specific situations, according to Mazak. This greatly increases the risk associated with operating such a machine, and therefore cannot be allowed to take place. Even if a machine is unexpectedly jammed, proper procedures must be followed to ensure ongoing safety.
4) Don't work employees too long or too hard
One of the biggest unseen (or, often, unconsidered) hazards in a factory setting is employees working too hard or too long, Mazak said. When that happens, their reaction times and decision-making can be impaired, increasing the likelihood that they make a serious mistake that puts themselves or others at greater risk of an injury. As such, you should allow employees to take breaks whenever necessary so they can return to their duties feeling refreshed.
5) Mandate wearing the right clothing and equipment
You should be providing your employees with PPE as they work with these machines, but you also have to make sure they wear all pieces of equipment properly, according to Nilfisk. Beyond that, you should also make sure these employees do not wear overly bagging clothing, loose jewelry or anything else that can be caught in a machine. This is just good practice and any behavior that breaks this norm should be discouraged.