Why Industrial Safety Is Important & How Electronic Repair Can Help
Workplace safety is essential for every occupation, but it’s an especially significant concern in the industrial sector. The safety guidelines created by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, are designed to keep employees safe, especially in industrial facilities where workers may face particularly hazardous situations. These guidelines, when combined with additional safety and maintenance measures, can help save workers’ lives.
Why Focus on Industrial Safety?
Workplace injuries are more common than many people think. As of 2017, 2.8 workplace injuries and illnesses occurred for every 100 workers. While this number itself is staggering, it’s even more concerning to know that worker deaths occur on a daily basis in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 5,147 workers died on the job in 2017, averaging out to over 99 deaths a week and over 14 deaths a day. Of those, 4,674 worker fatalities occurred in the private industry, with 20.7 percent of those deaths occurring in the construction industry.
The costs of insufficient safety go beyond these direct impacts as well. Some of the additional costs of lacking industrial safety include the following:
- Workers compensation payments: Employers pay an estimated $1 billion in workers’ compensation per week, which doesn’t include medical or legal expenses.
- Labor expenses: When an employee is lost to death or illness, a replacement needs to be hired and trained, incurring significant onboarding costs.
- Investigation costs: When workplace accidents occur that cause injury or death, the incident must be investigated thoroughly. In an industrial setting, this can mean that entire sections of the job site may be inaccessible during the length of the investigation, slowing down progress.
- Repair costs: In many cases, workplace deaths and injuries occur due to broken or damaged equipment or may result in broken or damaged equipment. In these cases, the equipment in question needs to be replaced or repaired, incurring additional costs.
- Morale costs: Workplace injuries and fatalities take a toll on the emotional health of your workforce at large. Even if your employees were not close to the affected worker, they may feel disheartened about the cause of the accident or experience heightened fear pertaining to their workplace environment. Such emotional effects can contribute to reduced morale, lowered productivity and increased absenteeism.
It’s also important to note that not all workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths are instantaneous. Long-term exposure to toxic substances can result in prolonged periods of discomfort and pain and may even result in terminal disease. These kinds of workplace-related illnesses are particularly difficult, as they can cost enormous amounts in compensation, investigation and lost productivity.
The Consequences of Inadequate Protection
To protect against workplace injuries, it’s essential to know what kind of injuries are common in your industry. In the industrial sector, the leading causes of death for workers are called the “Fatal Four,” which in total account for over half of all construction worker deaths. These four leading causes of death are explained in more detail below:
If you look at OSHA’s list of worker fatalities, you will see that falls are a significant cause of worker death. In 2017 alone, 381 out of 971 total deaths in construction occurred as a result of a fall, accounting for 39.2% of all construction deaths.
Falls are most commonly attributed to poor safety enforcement and improper equipment usage. Many workers operating at heights are required to use harnesses and tie-off systems, but poor enforcement of these requirements can lead to workers falling great distances. Additionally, much equipment that assists in gaining height, such as lifts and ladders, may be operated or maintained poorly, increasing the potential for workplace injuries and accidents.
2. Struck by an Object
The second most common cause of death in the industrial sector is being struck by an object. This type of event was responsible for 80 deaths in 2017, accounting for 8.2 of all construction deaths that year.
This type of workplace injury is often caused by poor safety protocol enforcement and equipment maintenance. Falling objects are often responsible for this type of workplace injury, especially when there is a lapse in communication between groups of workers. Additionally, poor maintenance of pressurized equipment may result in broken parts shooting projectiles at workers. This type of workplace injury also covers vehicular injuries where workers are struck by moving vehicles and vehicle parts.
3. Caught In or Between
This category covers events where construction workers are caught inside or between equipment and objects. These types of events accounted for 50 deaths in 2017 or 5.1% of all construction deaths.
These deaths are most often caused by a lack of communication or improper equipment usage. Some of the most common examples include workers getting caught between trailers and loading docks, crushed by moving equipment parts or trapped inside collapsing structures.
In the United States, about 1000 deaths per year occur due to electrical injuries, and electrocution is the fourth leading cause of workplace death overall. In 2017 alone, 71 construction workers died due to electrocution, accounting for 7.3 percent of construction deaths that year. Non-fatal electrocution incidents also pose a significant threat. About 30,000 non-fatal shock incidents occur annually in the U.S., and 5% of all U.S. burn unit admissions are the result of electrical accidents.
Electrical injuries on construction sites can occur as a result of lighting but are most commonly attributed to poor safety around building electrical wiring or faulty equipment. High voltage applications are particularly deadly. The best way to avoid these injuries is to employ workplace electrical safety protocols and to ensure that all electrical equipment is functioning and undergoes routine maintenance for safety purposes.
The Benefits of a Safe Workplace
When your workplace takes measures to keep employees safe, your business benefits at all levels. Some of the most significant benefits of implementing industrial safety in the workplace are explained in more detail below:
1. Happier Employees
The biggest reason that industrial facilities employ workplace safety protocols is to prevent accidents that can result in injury or death. When employees feel that their voices are being heard and that their workplaces are safe, they are significantly happier and more content with their work and working conditions. This can contribute to many additional benefits, including:
- Increased employee retention
- Improved worker productivity and involvement
- Reduced employee absenteeism
Industrial facilities can amplify these benefits by clearly communicating safety protocols, making it easier for employees to report hazards and accidents and implementing rest breaks to minimize exhaustion.
2. Increased Productivity
Improving workplace safety can help increase productivity. This effect can be attributed to many factors involved in implementing workplace safety protocols, including the following:
- Happier employees are more productive
- Improved employee retention means fewer trainee employees
- Fewer accidents means fewer investigations slowing down productivity
- Fewer incidents means less damaged or broken equipment
By implementing safety features and protocols and practicing industrial hygiene, industrial facilities can experience increased productivity over the long-term that far outweighs the short-term productivity produced by rushing and cutting corners.
3. Reduced Costs
When safety protocols are followed and supported, industrial facilities benefit greatly. These benefits also affect the bottom line in many ways, including:
- Maximizing employee productivity
- Avoiding OSHA fines due to noncompliance
- Minimizing lawsuits and workers’ rights violations
- Avoiding workers compensation claims and medical treatment costs
- Minimizing insurance costs
On top of reduced costs, industrial facilities can actually improve their profits through an improved public image. In an era where consumers are increasingly aware of businesses’ practices, treating your employees right can help build your company’s brand by improving your public image.
How to Protect Employees
Protecting your employees from workplace injuries and fatalities requires improving your industrial safety at multiple levels. The following are just a few things to look into when assessing your industrial safety protocols:
Proper training at every level is an essential first step in any industrial safety program. Employers should emphasize the importance of industrial safety protocols both during the initial training process and regularly throughout every employee’s career with their company. Here are just a few examples of training protocols that your industrial facility can implement if you’re not doing so already:
- New hire safety training: New employees should have a class in workplace safety before they begin work. This class should cover every major hazard on the site, employee safety expectations and the costs of not following protocols. It should also cover any personal protective equipment or PPE that is expected on the job site, how to wear it and why it is used.
- Refresher courses: If employees violate company safety standards and expectations, part of the coaching process should involve a refresher course on your facility’s rules and expectations.
- Annual training: Established employees working in industrial environments should receive regular training courses to update them on your workplace safety standards, reviewing all the highlights of your expectations and explaining any changes made.
While training may seem to be a boring task, it’s important to take it seriously and try to make it as educational and engaging as possible. Workplace safety videos, activities and games can help make the training effective for all employees.
2. Machine Guarding
Machine guards are safety features installed on or around manufacturing equipment that add an extra layer of protection around hazardous parts of the machine. Machine guarding is an essential safety measure to help prevent injury to the machine operator and others working around the equipment.
Machine guards shouldn’t just be installed on equipment and forgotten about, however. They should be regularly inspected to ensure that they are installed correctly and are operational. Regular machine guard inspection should be a standard part of any industrial hygiene routine.
3. Personal Protective Equipment
Personal protective equipment, also known as PPE, is a staple for any hazardous working environment, particularly industrial facilities. PPE includes any clothing, footwear, glasses and head protection that employees must or should wear to protect them from the environment they work in. Employers should provide the following in regards to PPE:
- Regular PPE assessments: Industrial facilities should assess their environments and PPE requirements on a regular basis to determine if any changes should be made to their PPE requirements.
- PPE training: New hires should be educated on how to wear and utilize PPE appropriately, and all employees should get regular refresher training on PPE, especially when the company implements PPE policy updates.
- New hire PPE provisions: New hires should be provided with PPE that meets company standards and fits them appropriately.
- PPE checks: The facility should implement PPE check policies where team leads or managers check employee PPE to ensure that they meet all company standards. Any employee caught violating the PPE policy should be educated on the matter, and there should be an escalation policy in place for repeat offenses.
All of these steps should be conducted regularly throughout the year, and all PPE protocols should be revisited regularly to determine if any updates are needed.
4. Comfortable Working Conditions
Employees work best when they are comfortable in their conditions, and that comfort comes with knowing that their physical and psychological health is not at risk. Creating comfortable working conditions doesn’t just involve training, PPE and machine guarding — creating a comfortable working environment also means respecting and involving your employees. Here are some examples of how to create more comfortable working environments:
- Employee involvement: Employees should be involved in workplace safety, and should regularly have a voice as to the leading concerns in the workplace. Establishing a worker-led safety council that assists in making changes to safety policies can help improve safety protocols while also helping employees feel more involved and comfortable at work.
- Observing employee rights: OSHA provides numerous protections for employees, including the right to report unsafe working conditions and the right to refuse to perform dangerous work. Making employees aware of their rights and respecting their rights is a good way to improve employee morale and make them more comfortable working in their environment.
- Prioritizing employee health: One of the best ways to protect workers is to keep them healthy. When workers are exhausted physically or mentally, they are more prone to making mistakes. As a result, overworked employees can increase the risk of workplace accidents taking place. To help protect against this, consider implementing workplace policies that prioritize employee health and provide options for sick employees.
Creating comfortable working conditions doesn’t just make employees happier. It also makes them more willing to comply with safety procedures. When employees are content and all working toward a safer working environment, everyone can experience the benefits.
5. Timely Machine Repair
Malfunctioning equipment poses a significant risk to any industrial operation. Poor function and faulty wiring can place workers at risk of injury or death. As a result, regular machine maintenance and timely machine repair are essential for any industrial hygiene routine. Especially when it comes to high-powered equipment, you should call your professional repair service as soon as you identify a problem.
When you need quick, quality machine repair to keep your employees safe, you need a professional service that gets it right every time. That’s where Global Electronic Services comes in.
Repair Services From Global Electronic Services
Following OSHA standards and implementing industrial safety protocols can help reduce accidents and protect the lives of your workers. Part of this involves choosing a repair service that you can trust to keep your equipment functioning properly. Global Electronic Services can help.
We provide repair services for all types of industrial electronics, from servo motors to hydraulic equipment. With customer service available 24/7, quick turnaround times and highly trained and certified technicians, we can help your company maintain your equipment to maximize workplace safety.
If you’re interested in utilizing our repair services to help improve your company’s electrical safety, contact Global Electronic Services today to get started.