4 Steps to a Safer Workplace
When we think of hazardous work environments, we conjure up images of chemical factories where employees deal with harmful vapors and fumes or are exposed to dangerous gases. You might be surprised to learn that warehouses and distribution centers — with accidents ranging from slips and falls to forklift and machinery accidents — are just as dangerous. Workers need to be aware of the various hazards and workplaces need to do their best to protect employees and minimize risks associated with equipment and machinery.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, machinery accidents are responsible for over 800 fatalities and approximately 18,000 amputations, crushing injuries, lacerations, and abrasions each year.
Here are some simple steps to mitigate the most common physical and ergonomic injuries.
While physical hazards are present in all workplaces, the most dangerous workplaces are those that utilize machinery, racking, stairs, and moving parts.
Ergonomic hazards often go hand-in-hand with physical ones. Ergonomic injury can result from body strains due to poor posture, frequent lifts, awkward movements, and even frequent trips of stairs. Hazards can take a significant toll on a workers’ body, making them more prone to accidents and disabilities.
Hazards are why safety in the workplace is so important. A safe workplace means fewer employee and equipment accidents, thus saving on costly downtime, insurance liability and workman’s comp claims.
So, let’s get started. The first step is made up of five smaller steps.
The 5S’s (Sort, Set, Shine, Standardize, Sustain)
To create a safer workplace, we will start with the 5S’s: Sort, Set, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain. The 5S’s are part of LEAN Manufacturing – an operating model that comes from Toyota’s 1930 “The Toyota Way” (Toyota Production System, TPS) aimed at reducing times within the production system, as well as response times from suppliers and to customers. The 5S’s are the first step in LEAN manufacturing. Let’s look at each:
- Sort: Remove unnecessary items from each area.
- Set in Order: Organize and identify storage for efficient use.
- Shine: Clean and inspect work areas regularly.
- Standardize: Incorporate 5S’s into daily operations.
- Sustain: Assign responsibility, track progress, continue the cycle.
As you organize and clean the workspace, it’s time to start protecting staff and equipment, and it all begins with safety signs.
The idea of posting safety signs might seem a bit trivial, but they make a difference. What’s more, The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and American National Standards Institute (ANSI) require safety signs in hazardous areas where hazards cannot be eliminated. The three OSHA sign classifications are “Danger” signs, “Caution” signs, and “Safety Instruction” signs.
Visible signs warn workers about hazards in the vicinity so that they can take necessary precautions. For example, post a “Danger” sign near high-pressure pipes. In a designated forklift area, post a sign that reads “keep aisles clean.”
Traction tape, sometimes called anti-slip tape or non-skid tape, works where there is a concern for slip and fall accidents. It increases friction between a worker’s shoes and the floor. It’s common to see this tape in manufacturing facilities, warehouses, hospitals, and schools.
Traction tape works great on stairs, ramps in both indoor and outdoor areas. It’s an easy and cost-effective solution for preventing many slip and fall accidents.
Industrial Safety Products
So often, when we think of safety, we think of worker safety. While worker safety is vital, so is protecting equipment and machinery. Industrial safety products also aid in mitigating hazards, especially when it comes to forklifts and machinery.
According to OSHA, 70% of forklift accidents are preventable with proper training and safeguards. The purpose of safety products is to create barriers to guard equipment and workers against damage. Damage can be caused by a forklift hitting a pallet rack or expensive machinery and equipment, a truck accidentally running into a door track.
- CIP fabricates safety products to protect equipment and staff. We offer bollards, machine guards, pallet rack protectors, and overhead door track protectors. Let’s briefly take a look at each.
- Bollards create a steel barrier from trucks, forklifts, and other moving machinery. They are also common outdoors to create a barrier between cars and pedestrians.
- Machine Guards are perfect for protecting large equipment, machines, walls, and electrical boxes from moving hazards.
- Upright Racking Protectors are perfect for protecting the most valuable part of a pallet rack – the base plate and lower leg. Hitting a pallet rack hard enough can cause it to topple over, incurring huge inventory losses, as well as jeopardizing employee safety.
- Door Track Protectors protect the most valuable part of the overhead door – the tracks.
Workplace hazards are a part of doing business. It’s up to each company to do what it can to minimize workplace hazards. As already mentioned, machinery accidents are responsible for over 800 fatalities and approximately 18,000 amputations, crushing injuries, lacerations and abrasions each year, and 70% of forklift accidents are preventable with training and safeguards.
With just a few adjustments and a small monetary and time investment, businesses can make their environments safer for staff and protect valuable equipment and machinery.
Contact one of our Solutions Specialists at (321) 728-3355 to learn more about Custom Industrial Products’ Industrial Safety Products, Vertical Reciprocating Conveyors, or Mezzanines.