The Importance of Safety in the Manufacturing Workplace
With so many things that manufacturers need to worry about given the current economic environment, whether it’s cutting costs, international trade tariffs, materials shortages or COVID-19 shutdowns, it’s easy to forget about the most important element of any business: safety. Maintaining a safe environment for your employees and creating products that are safe and reliable for your customers should always be a business owner’s top priority.
Safety needs to be more than just a poster up on the wall, or a slogan that gets mentioned at the end of meetings. The welfare of everyone involved with a manufacturing business needs to be at the center of every action. This starts with formulating clear and well-thought-out standard operating practices that have been thoroughly vetted.
While business owners may be understandably nervous about cutting costs, the simple truth is that safety measures almost always end up paying for themselves thanks to reduced downtime due to accidents and injuries, improved efficiency and cheaper insurance rates based on excellent safety records.
Another important element of any safety plan is partnering with a reliable and experienced material supplier that understands the importance of safety as well.
Statistics on workplace safety in the manufacturing industry
In the United States, there are an estimated 13,455,000 workers in manufacturing industries. The manufacturing sector accounts for 5% of all U.S. workers, yet they account for 8% of workplace fatalities; a testament to the dangers posed in manufacturing environments.
In 2019, the manufacturing sector also accounted for 15 percent of all private industry nonfatal injuries and illnesses. There were a reported 421,400 workplace injuries and illnesses during the year, with the most popular types of injuries including sprains, soreness, lacerations, cuts, punctures, broken bones, head injuries and others.
Why safety needs to be a manufacturer’s top priority
Every business faces external and internal threats, whether its competition from other companies, a lack of adequately trained personnel or the need to chase the latest technologies. That’s not to mention the existential threats being posed by the global pandemic and ongoing trade issues with Europe, China and other regions. With so many obstacles, it can be tempting to make safety less of a priority over productivity.
What many business owners and managers fail to realize is that manufacturing safety isn’t just about protecting workers. It also contributes directly to lowering costs. Every time an accident occurs, this decreases productivity and costs money. There is a direct link between fewer reported accidents and increased profits. Prioritizing safety and protecting employees is a win-win situation that benefits everyone.
Safety and your Business’s SOP
Any modern manufacturing business that is serious about safety has invested time in creating what is known as a Standard Operating Procedure, also known as an SOP. An SOP is a set of written guidelines that clearly lays out how to perform any task or operate any equipment that involves any degree of risk. This might include the handling of hazardous materials, operating dangerous equipment, working during challenging weather conditions or any other risk prone activity.
It is the responsibility of a company to make sure that all employees are adequately trained in the SOP and that a system of checks are in place, as well as clear consequences for failing to adhere to the guidelines. This not only lets a company’s staff know that safety must be taken seriously, but that anyone failing to do so will be held accountable.
Remember, the best way to guarantee workplace safety is to make sure that every employee is doing their job safely and correctly. Each employee needs to maintain constant vigilance, and the company needs to invest the time and resources to ensure that every staff member is thoroughly trained and aware of any hazards that they might face.
How can a company ensure safety at a manufacturing workplace?
As already noted, the manufacturing industry is particularly risky because of the nature of the work involved. This makes proper safety measures even more important. Examples of common considerations include the following:
- SOPs for using saws, lathes, drills, presses, welding equipment, cutting tools and other machinery
- Requiring PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) to be always worn around hazardous equipment, machinery or vehicles
- A clean and sanitized environment is always maintained
- Every employee is trained in (and signs posted on) what to do if an accident occurs
- Flammable materials are kept properly stored at all times
- Regular safety and training seminars held, with refresher courses throughout the year
Safety is not only a good financial investment, it’s critical for employees’ health and well-being.
Your Trusted Services Provider
At Clinton Aluminum, we have a proven track record when it comes to supporting manufacturers at every step of their procurement process, and that includes safety measures. We understand the importance of safety and efficiency, and we take pride in our ability to promote our customer’s success by supplying products tailored to their specifications.
Our experienced sales team of technical professionals has a combined average of 13 years working for Clinton. Their commitment to our clients has helped Clinton become the Midwest’s leading supplier of aluminum and stainless steel products. Contact one of our friendly and knowledgeable sales representatives today to learn more.