5 Simple Tips for Improving Machine Safety in Your Factory
Manufacturing Factory Machine Safety
Machine safety is the foundation of factory training. Before operators get to touch machinery, they spend hours observing, training, and learning about the equipment. Factory equipment is designed to protect the operator — everything from physical guards to failsafe and quick-stop protections. But despite all this, there are still millions of workplace-related injuries and illnesses each year.
This year, in 2020, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) turns 50, reminding us how far we’ve come over the last 50 years … and how far we have yet to go. Worker safety continues to be front and center in the minds of manufacturers, which makes it important to check your workplace against important machine safety standards. Here are five tips any manufacturer can exercise to help further OSHA’s mission of injury- and illness-free workplaces.
- Well-trained personnel: All personnel benefit from extensive training on the machine they’re using, both before they use it and in an ongoing capacity. This includes understanding its chief functions, safety features, basic troubleshooting, operational processes, and more. Training also includes teaching the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and operator expectations.
- Comprehensive asset maintenance plans: Machine safety comes from proper function, and proper function derives from routine maintenance. Preventive and proactive maintenance are some of the biggest reducers of machine complications, which means a lower potential for injury. Understand the needs of every individual machine and conform asset maintenance schedules around them.
- Documented safety standards and risk assessments: Every manufacturer has standard operating procedures (SOPs) and other rigid protocol for machine operation. It’s not enough to have these rules documented and available, however. They need to not only be taught and workers tested against them, but also continually revised to ensure they’re accurate and verifiable. They should be improved and expanded routinely.
- Routine inspections: Inspections support a tenacious maintenance schedule. Operators should learn to perform their own daily inspections. More immersive inspections need to be part of greater maintenance practices as well. Create encompassing maintenance checklists and hold technicians accountable for thorough inspections. Regular equipment assessments could save lives.
- Safeguards and failsafe protection: These last-ditch methods for preventing injury should be thoroughly evaluated and tested to ensure they’re working. Workers also should know how to use them! Whether it’s an emergency stop button, a kill switch for power, interlocking switches, or commands given to a PLC, there needs to be a fundamental way to kill the machine or any processes it performs instantaneously.
It’s not enough to train well, inspect routinely, and test safeguards. Worker safety is a continuous focus that demands continuous improvements. Manufacturers should not just strive to meet OSHA safety standards, but to embody the organization’s mission of total worker safety.