Safety Standards

Safety standards in manufacturing refer to the regulations, guidelines and best practices that organizations must follow to ensure the health and safety of workers in industrial and manufacturing environments. These standards are developed by government agencies, industry organizations and other groups to establish guidelines for safe work practices and equipment design, as well as to promote safety awareness and education.

Safety Standards Articles

Who sets your plant’s safety standards?

The standard for safety begins at the front door of your plant. You and your employees set the standard for safety.

“The standard for safety begins with not OSHA nor with NFPA, but at the front door of your plant. You and your employees set the standard for safety.”

Safety, as has been noted in this space many times, is not a point of negotiation in manufacturing. It is a fundamental and inviolable human right. It isn’t something workers should ever have to demand. It is something management must provide at every moment of every day.

As I tour manufacturing plants, safety is the first thing I look for, and the first thing with which I’m usually confronted. From something as simple as safety glasses to as comprehensive as a 5-min safety video for visitors before they can enter the facility, safety is the benchmark for almost all great and good manufacturers.

So when encountering a situation such as chicken-processor Case Farms in Winesburg, Ohio, I have to remind myself that this really is an exception to the rules of safety. Still, the quote from OSHA Administrator Dr. David Michaels does give one pause, because government officials usually aren’t this blunt.

In announcing 55 violations against Case Farms on Aug. 13, Michaels left little doubt as to his agency’s disdain for Case Farms’ safety practices. “Case Farms is an outrageously dangerous place to work,” Michaels said in a press release announcing $861,500 in fines against the company. “In the past 25 years, Case Farms has been cited for more than 350 safety and health violations. Despite committing to OSHA that it would eliminate serious hazards, Case Farms continues to endanger the safety and health of its workers. This simply must stop.”

Case was accused of violating standards on fall protection, personal protective equipment (PPE), improperly stored oxygen cylinders, amputation hazards, and what the OSHA press release called “numerous violations of electrical safety standards.” The company also has been added to OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

In deciding to contest the latest round of fines and violations, Case Farms officials said in a statement published by Farm and Dairy on Sept. 1, “We do not agree with the negative characterizations that have been made about our company and our employees … The citations are being reviewed and we will work with OSHA, as we have in the past, to address the concerns outlined in the citations.”

There’s a long distance between the statement from Michaels and the one from Case Farms, except for the part that says: “We will work with OSHA, as we have in the past.” Everyone agrees this is not the first time OSHA and Case Farms have discussed safety practices. It probably also is worth noting the irony of the first line on the Case Farms corporate website home page, which reads: “A core component to Case Farms’ quality commitment is to ensure the welfare and health of our chickens.”

In September of this year, OSHA reported that there was an increase in the number of workplace fatalities in 2014, the last year for which statistics are available. There were 4,679 workers killed on the job in 2014, compared with 4,585 in 2013. The fatality rate dropped 3.3% in 2014 because of increased hours worked, but that’s probably little consolation to the 4,679 families who lost loved ones at work in 2014.

Stories such as Case Farms and numbers such as the latest workplace fatality figures are why we have safety standards. OSHA and the NFPA are just two of the groups studying the key issues around workplace safety. The standards around this issue continue to evolve. No one is satisfied with workplace safety because not everyone is safe. The efforts these agencies and others make to improve workplace safety must continue, and must be adopted and enforced.

But the standard for safety begins not with OSHA nor with NFPA, but at the front door of your plant. You and your employees set the standard for safety. No one should be able to impose upon you a safety standard greater than one that you should insist on for yourself, and no nasty words or huge fines will be able to abate the damage if you fail to meet that standard.

Safety Standards FAQ

  • What are the most common safety standards used in a plant manufacturing facility?

    There are several safety standards commonly used in plant manufacturing facilities. The most prominent are the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), American National Standards Institute (ANSI), National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), International Organization for Standardization(ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). It's also important to research and comply with the standards that apply to the specific plant manufacturing facility.

  • How crucial are OSHA standards in manufacturing?

    OSHA standards are crucial in manufacturing as they help to ensure a safe and healthy working environment for employees. These standards cover a wide range of topics, including machine safety, fall protection, electrical safety and hazardous materials handling. Compliance with OSHA standards can help to prevent workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities. OSHA also has the authority to shut down operations that are found to be in violation of safety standards. By following OSHA standards, manufacturing companies can protect their employees, comply with regulations and avoid costly penalties.

  • What safety best practices can manufacturers enforce on their own?

    Manufacturers can enforce a variety of safety best practices on their own to help ensure a safe and healthy working environment for employees. They should conduct regular safety training and inspection, implement a lockout/tagout (LOTO program) and establish emergency procedures and drills. While many of these are part of OSHA regulations, manufacturers can go above and beyond by implementing additional safety measures and by making safety a culture within their company.

  • What challenges do manufacturers face when adopting safety standards?

    Manufacturers may face a variety of challenges when adopting safety standards, such as costs, limited resources and identifying hazards during inspection. Manufacturers also might have some resistance from workers if they believe the safety standards are hindering their work or if the company is working with limited personnel. To overcome these challenges, manufacturers can work with safety experts to identify hazards, evaluate risks and implement effective safety measures.

Some FAQ content was compiled with the assistance of ChatGPT. Due to the limitations of AI tools, all content was edited and reviewed by our content team.