Five tips to building your manufacturing safety strategy

Tuesday November 20, 2018
Written by Jonathan Wilkins, EU Automation
November 20, 2018 – According to the Association of Workers' Compensation Boards of Canada, manufacturing is statistically one of the highest risk industrial sectors to work in. 

In 2016, 144 fatalities occurred in Canadian manufacturing facilities—that's 16 per cent of the total workplace fatalities. Can more be done to protect the health and safety of those working in industrial environments?

Work-related injuries and sickness costs businesses $1 billion each year and while Industry 4.0 technologies are believed to reduce accidents, without a robust health and safety plan that includes training on new equipment, problems can still arise. But where do you start when formulating your health and safety strategy? Here are five tips.

1. Develop your work plan
With any cultural change it’s important to have a strong team from across the business leading the initiative. Once formed, roles should be allocated and the group should identify key issues in their own working environment to address.

2. Communicate your mission
The mission and vision of the strategy should be clearly articulated across the entire company. While having the top-down support is vital to the success of any strategy, it’s equally important to have backing from the rest of the company. Without their participation, the strategy’s implementation will fall at the first hurdle. The mission statement must be clear and concise and made accessible to all employees.

3. The current situation
Some manufacturers may be further along their health and safety journey than others, with a relatively robust set of procedures in place already. The group must take a step back and look at the business’ current strengths and weaknesses. By pinpointing critical issues, you can then take appropriate action, be it with training or other means.

4. Identify your objectives and how to achieve them
With the weaknesses identified, it’s now time to determine how they will be addressed. Each weakness should be assessed on an individual basis, with specific objectives allocated. This step is perhaps the most time consuming as it is here where an action plan is developed to deal with the various issues.

As part of the strategy, the group should also consider developing a planned maintenance program as regular maintenance can prevent equipment faults from arising, minimizing potential hazards.

5. Communication and evaluation
Once the safety strategy has been created, it must be communicated and implemented. The exercise is pointless if the document is simply printed and put inside a drawer. The action plan should be evaluated on a regular basis and adapted accordingly if safety does not improve in the plant.

As the factory floor becomes "smarter," a detailed safety strategy is vital in ensuring the plant is a safe working environment. Without the proper training, procedures and protocols in place, the number of workplace accidents will continue to climb, causing considerable loses for businesses.

Jonathan Wilkins is the marketing director of industrial automation components supplier EU Automation.


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