Warehouses and factories are often the most critical part of the supply chain in getting a product out. However, they are also some of the most dangerous parts, between chemicals, machinery, and bad safety habits. Here are some ways to keep your employees safe.
Inspections and Action Plan
Conducting regular safety inspections is the very beginning of keeping everything in working order and ensuring the safety of the warehouse or factory floor. Employees often become complacent, leading to larger risks. Corners may be cut, and this could result in unsafe work practices. An inspection reveals where employees are slacking, so that errors may be corrected before it becomes a major issue. However, you need to have an action plan in place or these errors will not be corrected.
After the inspection, a detailed action plan should be drawn up to address any issues. Without a plan, a debate or safety meeting has no purpose; nothing is done to actually correct the issues and improve safety. Document what is wrong and how it will be fixed, then document the end result with how the issue was fixed.
The National Safety Council offers best practices to achieve the best results from training. After the inspection, identify the needs of employees. Where do they feel unsafe? Do they know how to properly handle machinery, chemicals, or processes relevant to their job?
Next, what is the best method to carry out the training? The methods used should be tailored to your workforce in order to best educate them. Is on-the-job training more effective than sitting down and using a whiteboard? Will group training work, or is one-on-one better for your audience?
After the training is conducted, follow-up inspections will reveal if the training worked and employees are using safe practices on the job.
Equipment Asset Tracking
Keeping tabs on your equipment is vital on a factory floor. If equipment is old, it could be a hazard to employees. Use asset tracking as well as repair and maintenance software to know when it’s time to inspect equipment.
Is it cheaper to repair or replace the equipment? Bear in mind that with new equipment, employees might need to be retrained to understand how to safely operate the new machinery. On the other hand, old equipment may be prone to breaking or no longer be as efficient as it was.
Cleaning is extremely important, depending on what the factory produces and how it needs to be handled. A clean room, for example, should be kept completely sterile. Creating semiconductors from chemicals requires the absence of contaminants or the part might be useless. A medical device that produces chemicals might still give off endotoxins, which are harmful to humans and ride with the product to the warehouse, notes Berkshire.
Another specialized example due to only being legal in certain states, indoor marijuana grows are sometimes subject to powdery mildew and gray mold, which require air filters to keep clean, according to AiroClean420. Otherwise, not only will the plants likely die, destroying the product, but workers may also breathe in the airborne pathogens.
While these are extreme examples, they show just how much cleanliness matters. A puddle could cause someone to slip and it could also reveal that a machine is malfunctioning. A clean workplace means fewer hazards.
Finally, a word on asbestos. Depending on the products manufactured or handled, employees may be subjected to asbestos. Professions who have historically worked with asbestos include, but are not limited to, the following professions: construction workers; automobile mechanics and manufacturers; paper mill workers; iron and steel workers; and shipyard workers and sailors, according to Baron & Budd. Asbestos can cause the deadly cancer mesothelioma, which means workers could be at risk. While most of the exposure was though equipment used between the 1940s and 1970s, it is vital to know whether your workers are exposed for health and safety reasons.
Health and safety is not just a matter of OSHA, but it also plays a factor in retaining workers. Hiring employees with safety knowledge and providing safety training will help your factory or warehouse be a better, safer work environment. When employees feel safe, they are more motivated. In the end, making safety part of company culture will result in a better workplace and a better company overall.
Bio: Avery T. Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world, especially when it comes to business, tech, and workplace safety. Comment or reach out @A_Taylorian with any questions or suggestions.