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7 Ways to Improve Workplace Safety

Our company’s mission is to help industrial workers return home safely from the job every day. So it’s even more imperative that we practice what we preach and ensure that our own safety practices meet or exceed industry best practices.

Our own Quality Engineer and Safety Manager George Biggs shares some of his team’s best practices that are keeping workers safe and have contributed to their year-to-date record of zero lost time accidents. His plant manufactures SafeRack, ErectaStep, RollaStep and YellowGate brand fall protection and access systems for industrial work areas.

  1. Hazard assessments
    Assessments are effective in determining where potential safety risk lies. They provide an overall view of plant safety and identify specific improvement areas. It should be noted that safety assessments are not a substitute for daily awareness of work conditions, and applying the “see something say something” philosophy to immediately correct a hazard. (See “Weekly Safety Audit” below.)
    “Often we grow accustomed to our work environment and aren’t aware of some of the less obvious safety issues. Assessments give us a closer look. They ensure that safety risks are properly addressed,” said Biggs.
  2. Weekly safety audit and toolbox meeting
    The weekly safety audit ensures that the gains from the safety assessment are maintained and identifies any new safety issues since the last assessment was conducted. Weekly toolbox meetings are brief and less formal, but an effective way to handle quick-fix safety issues or escalate them if required. They’re also good opportunities to identify worker safety training or refresher training that may be needed.
    The following infographic was based on data from a SafetyToolboxTalks survey taken July 16, 2014.
  3. Integrate safety into production meetings
    Production meetings provide another forum to raise awareness of safety. Often safety issues affect production. The resolution to some safety issues can result in productivity increases. We see this in our own business. Our worker access and fall protection systems enable workers to move more freely and with confidence knowing they’re protected. The result is greater productivity.
  4. Visual board
    Borrowed from Toyota, visual boards increase awareness of safety and encourage safety each day. The board consists of nine safety elements:
    1. Green cross - The goal is to have a green cross at the end of the month and the board gives employees a visual reminder of their progress. Yellow blocks indicate a medical incident and red blocks a lost time accident.
    2. SafeRack PPE Person – Interjecting a little humor, PPE Person reminds workers what personal protective equipment is required.
    3. Employee safety pie chart – Each employee has the opportunity to place his or her safety issue/information on a slice of the pie.
    4. List of near misses – This serves as a reminder to avoid future potential safety issues or incidents.
    5. List of accidents – Identifies a safety issue that must be addressed
    6. Wellness newsletters and general safety information
    7. Ergonomics and ventilation – provides tips on reducing strain and sprain injury and lets workers know what’s being done to improve the overall work environment.
    8. TRR – Total Recordable Rate indicates progress toward a zero-incident workplace
    9. Egress Map
  5. Hands-on Safety Training
    This is a highly effective method for teaching and reinforcing safety practices on the job. “I bring real-world examples to the training,” said Biggs. “At the end of each training session, I asked questions about the previous training session to reinforce learning. I also use funny cartoons, which I find makes the training more engaging and the lesson more memorable.”
  6. Going Green for Safety
    Green initiatives can provide a new perspective on safety and reducing potential hazards. “Our safety team is currently working on going green by removing all non-desirable cleaning chemicals and replacing them with employee- and environmentally-friendly solutions,” said Biggs.
    SafeRack Safety Team - Help improve industrial safety and fall protection
    SafeRack "Green Team" from left to right: George Biggs, Jimmy Collins, Scott Fisher, Dustin Cox and David Garner (absent).
  7. 2 Operators on Machinery
    Some of the most serious and often fatal industrial accidents occur when machine operators are alone. By the time the first call for help is heard, it’s often too late when it comes to fast moving machinery. A team of two workers when operating machinery prevents a malfunction or operator error from becoming a serious accident.

A true story...
“In a previous company, our rule was to always have two people when working on machinery and never let a person work on a machine alone. There was a large mill on the end of my line. It had stopped, and we couldn’t get it started. I called maintenance and they sent an experienced person who told me I didn’t need to stay, but it was our policy to have two people present, so I stayed anyway. The technician got down in the machine and when he made the limit switch, the mill started. He had nowhere to go. I hit the emergency switch and killed the power, but the mill continued turning with just the power from the weight of the mill. The technician’s coveralls became entangled in the blade. Fortunately, he wasn’t hurt, but it was a very close call.

Safety rules are in place for a reason. Ensure that everyone follows them. Look at your hazard assessments, apply safety principles, and above all, involve everyone in safety to avoid near misses or worse.”

Give us a call to help assess any safety or fall protection hazards. 866-761-7225.

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Ergonomics Drives Work Place Safety and Productivity

Workplace safety at loading and unloading terminals is enhanced when ergonomics is a consideration. SafeRack work platforms and gangways support ergonomic operation and help reduce strain and sprain injury.

We see a lot of loading and unloading terminals, but one thing that impresses us is when leadership engenders a workplace safety culture. True, every company has output requirements to maintain, as well as, EHS and OSHA compliance requirements. However, in our experience, those leaders who place an emphasis on workplace safety are also top performers in OEE and other performance metrics.

Many managers are taking workplace safety a step further and incorporating ergonomics into their safety programs. It's a growing concern among EHS professionals because of an aging workforce.  According to the U.S. Department of Labor, one in three workers is over the age of 50, and the concern is that the older the worker, the greater the risk of injury.

Regardless of age, ergonomics considerations can significantly reduce the risk of strain and sprain injuries. These injuries are often caused by overexertion. We’ve seen cases where it’s not the aging worker, but aging equipment that causes workers to require more physical energy to operate.

How can you improve industrial and manufacturing ergonomics?

Take a look at your loading equipment and consider ergonomic improvements. Can you adjust the equipment to help it operate with less effort; for example, replacing or lubricating weathered industrial parts that no longer operate with ease?

Consider the age of the equipment and conduct a cost analysis to see if the productivity improvements of replacing the equipment outweigh the costs. Keep in mind that part of the cost includes any downtime. Often we find that aging equipment malfunctions and leads to downtime. For most busy terminals, the costs of downtime are significant and far outweigh replacement costs.

Should you decide to replace equipment, factor in delivery and installation to make sure you minimize any potential downtime or supply disruption. For some terminal operators there's a brief lull during certain seasons when they conduct planned maintenance. If you’re unable to leverage shutdown periods, then consider a supplier who can delivery quickly and whose installation is easy and the process efficient.

Learn more about ergonomic solutions for loading terminals.  Contact SafeRack today!

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This product improves safety for my staff, cutting down their time moving around the yard. This product is weather protected, with no maintenance, plus saves cost on designing, engineering and building in-house. Always a positive experience. Price is good.

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