According to Safe Work Australia, the manufacturing industry had the fourth highest proportion of worker fatalities between the years of 2003 to 2015.
If you manage an industrial workplace or simply work in one, you must do your best to make it as safe as possible. Not doing so could result in a co-worker or a visitor getting seriously hurt. Additionally, there’s also the possibility of personal injury claims and property damage.
To help you protect yourself and your colleagues from serious injury, we’ve listed five ways to make the industrial workplace safer.
- Use protective equipment
The first thing to do is to ensure that you and your colleagues are using the proper personal protective equipment (PPE). Depending on the type of work that you’re doing, the equipment that you’ll need will vary. That being said, the most common ones include safety glasses, protective helmets, ear plugs, work boots, high-visibility clothing and gloves. This type of equipment will protect you from harmful chemicals, flying debris, sharp tools, loud noises and falling objects.
It is essential that everyone in the workplace has access to such equipment. If there are visitors that need to enter the workplace, they will also need to wear the proper protective gear and be briefed on the hazards that they might face.
As per Safe Work Australia, a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must provide workers with PPE. A PCBU is also responsible for training the workers in terms of the proper use of the equipment. Workers must also be informed of the PPE’s storage and maintenance requirements.
- Add visual warnings
Protecting yourself from unexpected hazards is a good thing; knowing where the dangers might come from is even better. To make the industrial workplace safer, make sure to have visual warnings in the appropriate places. In general, you should have warning signs for hot surfaces, high-voltage equipment, flammable materials, and harmful chemicals.
You should also place prohibition signs where necessary. Such signs will serve to remind workers to not smoke in a particular area, to turn off their phones, not to leave taps running or simply to stay away from a certain place in the worksite.
Another thing to consider is floor safety. In most cases, industrial settings will require anti-fatigue rubber mats, anti-slip tape and high-visibility markings. These products will significantly reduce the risk of slip and falls.
- Venue and equipment maintenance
Once you’ve taken care of your own safety, it’s time to turn your attention to the things around you. The machinery, vehicles and tools that you use on a daily basis will eventually wear out and break down. If you keep using them in such a compromised condition, they can become a hazard to you and those around you. Therefore, you need to make sure that the equipment is regularly inspected and properly maintained. Even routine cleaning can significantly reduce the risk of a machine malfunctioning and causing serious injury.
You should also take care of the overall work environment by regularly cleaning and maintaining the floors, work benches, windows, door handles, stairways, handrails and so on.
- Conduct proper training and revision sessions
Safety training is a must when it comes to industrial worksites. All workers must be trained on how to use the equipment properly, how to handle dangerous substances, and what to do in an emergency. Safety training programs also include pointers on what not to do. This includes taking off PPE at an inappropriate time, smoking in a prohibited area or leaving certain machinery or power tools unattended.
Despite providing introductory training sessions, a common issue that most worksites face is complacency. For example, after getting comfortable with their work, some employees might feel that they can remove their protective helmets every once in a while. Though this might seem trivial, anything can happen in a short period of time. As such, you need to make sure that you and your colleagues are constantly reminded about all aspects of workplace safety. It is recommended that PCBUs conduct retraining sessions on an annual basis to ensure that the workers don’t become complacent.
- Encourage your team to be proactive
The last point is more about mindsets. No matter how much training or protective equipment you give the workers, there’s always going to be unknown hazards in the industrial workplace. Indeed, new technology is constantly being developed, manufacturing methods are changing, and production materials are quickly evolving. Unfortunately, along with these developments come new threats to safety.
As such, the workers must be as proactive as possible. If they see something as a potential hazard, they should be comfortable enough to speak about it. As much as possible, a PCBU should encourage the workers to be proactive when it comes to workplace safety.
That was just a short list of pointers on how to improve workplace safety in an industrial setting. If you have other questions or concerns, please refer to government sources online. Indeed, sites like Safe Work Australia do a good job of providing comprehensive information on worker safety and workplace regulations.