Six serious safety hazards to avoid in manufacturing jobs

Almost no work environment is as hazardous as manufacturing, but if you know what to look for, you may be better able to protect yourself and your workers from injury.

04/23/2014


Below are six of the most-common safety hazards in manufacturing settings:Courtesy: CFE Media

1. Chemicals: Dangerous chemicals can be anywhere, from corrosive cleaning solutions to leaking battery acid. To reduce risk of exposure, all hazardous material in your facility should be clearly labeled. Safety instructions should be posted in the immediate vicinity and should include precautions, procedures for treating exposure and an evacuation plan. Employees should also be trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of chemical exposure so that they or their coworkers can immediately receive the proper first aid.

2. Falls: When paired with overconfidence, high places can be one of the biggest hazards in your workplace. In addition to helmets, fall-protection equipment should be in place for ladders, cherry-pickers, or any other piece of raised equipment. Employees should be trained to work together and understand safety signals from those on the ground.

3. Heavy Machinery: Carelessness when maneuvering a forklift or other factory vehicle can result in serious injury and even death — and not just for the operator. All heavy equipment should be well-guarded to limit access by untrained workers. And like those working in high places, the workers permitted to use the equipment must avoid the pitfalls of being overly confident. For example, they should know to constantly be on the lookout for employees. Employees outside of the machinery must know to get and hold eye contact with an operator, anticipate the vehicle’s movements and alert the operator to an emergency.

4. Fire: Engines that run your machinery, welding equipment that is used on a daily basis, and the electrical wires that keep the lights on can each pose a significant risk for a manufacturing facility. To minimize risk, fire extinguishers should be visible and well-marked. They should also be regularly inspected. Smoke detectors should be placed throughout your facility, as well as emergency phone numbers and emergency instructions for employees.

5. Confined spaces: A confined space can include any space in which oxygen can quickly deplete — a vat or tank, for example. Because symptoms of suffocation can come on suddenly and limit a person’s ability to communicate, the best defense against this hazard is education. Employees should know what qualifies as a confined space. When working in one, they should work in pairs, with one employee removed from the danger who can act if needed. And in some cases, your facility should be equipped with confined-space rescue equipment, such as a harness or facemask. 

6. Non-employees: One of the most dangerous elements in the workplace can be the people who shouldn’t be there in the first place. Work areas should be forbidden to all people who do not have proper training and equipment — including employees who work elsewhere in the facility. Limit access to your facility and post clear warnings so outsiders know to keep away. Enforce the rules — make no exceptions for friends, family members or anyone else who is not onsite to perform a specific task.

Tom Bonine is president of National Metal Fabricators(NMF). The Chicago-area firm, established in 1944, offers custom fabrication, angle rings, welding, and bar-milling services. 

Edited by Jessica DuBois-Maahs, associate content manger, CFE Media, jdmaahs@cfemedia.com.

 



Top Plant
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America.
Product of the Year
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
July/Aug
GAMS preview, 2018 Mid-Year Report, EAM and Safety
June 2018
2018 Lubrication Guide, Motor and maintenance management, Control system migration
May 2018
Electrical standards, robots and Lean manufacturing, and how an aluminum packaging plant is helping community growth.
April 2018
2017 Product of the Year winners, retrofitting a press, IMTS and Hannover Messe preview, natural refrigerants, testing steam traps
August 2018
SCADA standardization, capital expenditures, data-driven drilling and execution
June 2018
Machine learning, produced water benefits, programming cavity pumps
April 2018
ROVs, rigs, and the real time; wellsite valve manifolds; AI on a chip; analytics use for pipelines
Spring 2018
Burners for heat-treating furnaces, CHP, dryers, gas humidification, and more
August 2018
Choosing an automation controller, Lean manufacturing
February 2018
Setting internal automation standards

Annual Salary Survey

After two years of economic concerns, manufacturing leaders once again have homed in on the single biggest issue facing their operations:

It's the workers—or more specifically, the lack of workers.

The 2017 Plant Engineering Salary Survey looks at not just what plant managers make, but what they think. As they look across their plants today, plant managers say they don’t have the operational depth to take on the new technologies and new challenges of global manufacturing.

Read more: 2017 Salary Survey

The Maintenance and Reliability Coach's blog
Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
One Voice for Manufacturing
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Maintenance and Reliability Professionals Blog
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Machine Safety
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
Research Analyst Blog
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Marshall on Maintenance
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
Lachance on CMMS
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
Material Handling
This digital report explains how everything from conveyors and robots to automatic picking systems and digital orders have evolved to keep pace with the speed of change in the supply chain.
Electrical Safety Update
This digital report explains how plant engineers need to take greater care when it comes to electrical safety incidents on the plant floor.
IIoT: Machines, Equipment, & Asset Management
Articles in this digital report highlight technologies that enable Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies.
Randy Steele
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Matthew J. Woo, PE, RCDD, LEED AP BD+C
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Randy Oliver
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me