Given the consistent pressures on supply chains across the U.S., employee retention is a big concern for manufacturing. Part of the labor shortage is a result of the industry's perceived health risks — working around machinery, loading bays, stacks of raw materials and other hazards may give workers plenty of cause for concern. By contrast, working from home is the de facto model for many industries today. Your employees and prospective hires might consider a safer career path wherein they don't encounter as many physical risks.
Therefore, it's important to bolster your health and safety program wherever you can, planning and demonstrating the commitment you're making to the wellbeing of those you depend on. At the same time, you'll reduce absenteeism and maintain optimal productivity. Keep reading to learn methods for improving safety procedures across your facilities using some of the latest techniques leaving their mark on the sector.
Virtual reality technology allows you to place people in the thick of a complex, high-risk space without any physical danger. More and more VR programs are being used as teaching tools for manufacturers, simulating typical and emergency scenarios for onboarding and retraining. Immerse is one such market leader, modeling confined environments, tasks at elevated levels, hazard identification and alerts for safety protocols. Immerse claims that VR is also 64% more cost effective than classroom training at scale, helping your health and safety budget go further. Other cutting-edge providers include PIXO and 4Experience.
As Automation Insights explains, "A work system based on the human body … does not bring good results. Workers tire quickly, causing a decrease in their productivity. And with time, health problems related to regularly carrying heavy daily loads also begin to appear." In the conversations around automation, it's easy to neglect the positive effect this investment can have on your safety record. Small, repetitive tasks can be entirely handed over to robots, freeing employees up to work in safer, specialized or even remote duties.
Modern solutions such as Lucidity and ProcessMAP track and report on your manufacturing plants, showing where critical vulnerabilities are emerging. Through these programs, you can check faulty equipment, burst pipes, blocked entrances, insecure pallets and chemical spills. Root cause analysis reveals where the risk likely began and how you can limit or prevent it in the future. Bring your health and safety managers on board with this technology for greater all-round awareness.
Sick days and accident rates aren't the only measures of a solid safety program. As Miliken states, there are three broad statistical groups to consider: empowerment, ownership and engagement. The first refers to outcomes and results within your processes. The second accounts for how risk rises or falls over time. The last is about participation, using meeting attendance as a basis for whether the workforce is invested in health and safety. We suggest applying measurable KPIs for each of these categories and reviewing them every couple of months.