Every job has its own set of safety concerns. In the manufacturing industry, skilled professionals working in an environment with large machinery, chemicals, and mobile machines face amplified risks. Regardless of your role in the factory, job safety is essential. Responsibility largely falls on the employer to provide a working environment that minimizes safety risks with the right training, policies, and procedures. There are, however, also steps you can take on the job to keep you and your coworkers safe. These are the top 10 things to look out for when you’re on the job.
1. Use Equipment and Tools Properly
While this might seem like common knowledge, make sure you’ve been trained properly on how to use equipment and tools to avoid preventable injury. All employees should be trained in tool safety on the first days of their job and then receive regular safety talks regarding proper tool use. Before you start working, check to make sure machine guards are in place and that each piece of machinery is being used correctly. Also, regularly clean and inspect equipment.
2. Use Safety Equipment
One of the most common OSHA violations is failing to wear PPE. Safety equipment or PPE is made to protect you from job hazards. Avoid wearing loose-fitting clothing or jewelry, which can snag or get caught on machinery. Similarly, if you have long hair make sure to tie it back.
The use of safety equipment can reduce the risk of accidents & injuries—including crushing & impacts, breathing in contaminated air, eye injuries, and hearing loss. Your warehouse manager should also give you a list of required PPE and tell you how to clean and maintain them so they remain effective at protecting you.
3. Prevent Slips and Falls
Unlike some of the others on this list, slips and falls can occur in any workplace setting. Slips and falls can be more dangerous for factories, however. While on the job, keep an eye out for holes, cracks, or loose cords and use hazard signs and caution tape to mark the areas until the risks can be removed. Clean up spills immediately and use anti-slip floor tape and mats.
4. Keep Emergency Exits Clear
In case of a fire, emergency exits should be cleared, clearly marked, and lit at all times. An overcrowded and cluttered workspace area can make it harder for you to do your job, since you might not have enough space to use tools or pick up & place heavy objects down. More importantly, it can also slow down an emergency exit. Putting equipment back in storage areas after you’ve finished using it can help keep your work area and emergency exits clear.
5. Remove Fire Hazards
If your job requires you to use combustible fluids, only take as much as you need to perform the job on hand. Flammable materials should always be stored properly away from ignition sources. Wires should never be exposed, particularly in areas where flammable materials are used. Combustible waste should be stored in metal containers and disposed of daily.
6. Eliminate Hazardous Materials
Most factories use chemical products. Some are used in industrial settings for product manufacturing, while others are used to clean and maintain working spaces. Keep work area mats clean and well maintained to prevent hazardous materials from contaminating other areas. Clean up spills and change your clothes if you happen to spill toxic chemicals on them. If you work with toxic materials, never wear your work clothes home.
7. Prevent Falling Objects
Stacking items on top of each other is a great space-saving solution, but it also creates the risk that these objects can fall and hurt someone. Make sure stacks are stable and out of the way of aisles and work areas. Place bulkier, heavier items towards the bottom shelves. Store and move cylindrical items with the flat side facing down and don’t load equipment beyond the weight limit. Protection like nets, toe boards, and toe rails can also help keep the workplace safe.
8. Use Heavy Equipment Properly
You may be required to drive mobile machinery from job to job or operate powered vehicles like forklifts & wheel loaders at the worksite. Your employer should ensure that workers are regularly trained and licensed to operate mobile machinery like forklifts, including receiving training & proper equipment to move & store heavy materials to avoid injury.
9. Avoid Complacency
Once you get used to the job, you might start to do tasks automatically without thinking about them. While it may seem efficient, it can mean that you’re not as great at identifying potential risks and hazards. You may also feel that safety checks are unnecessary because you’ve avoided injury for a while. Continuing to follow factory job safety procedures will help keep the workplace running and free of avoidable disasters.
10. Take Breaks When You Need To
Overexertion is one of the top leading causes of injury; these include injuries caused by lifting, pushing, turning, holding, carrying, or throwing heavy objects. Overworking can make you feel exhausted, which can cause you to lose your concentration. When it comes to heavy equipment, anything can happen in that split second of lost focus. Regular breaks can help keep you alert to avoid danger.
All jobs have their risks. Despite the occupational hazards, a manufacturing career can be very rewarding because you get to work with your hands to build something. Visit our Career Path section to explore different jobs and discover what roles interest you. If you already know what you want to do, head over to our job board to find top listings or start talking with our Career Coach. We can connect you to manufacturing jobs that fit your skills and experience level.