In the manufacturing world, there are hundreds of potential hazards: work sites, machinery, chemicals—you name it. All these hazards mean that safety regulations are critical in the manufacturing environment. Without them, employees may be in serious danger. Employers are responsible for making sure that safety regulations are in place before employees begin work.
But of course, accidents will happen, and they happen to everyone. Each manufacturing job has its own set of unique hazards and dangers that can result in employee injury. In fact, according the US Department of Labor, 3 million workers are injured on the job every year. And what’s more, 4500 of those injuries result in death.
So, what causes these dangerous accidents? Are safety regulations being ignored? And most importantly, how can employers (and employees) help prevent these accidents?
OSHA’s Top Ten Safety Violations
Just this past month, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released their annual list of the Top Ten safety violations of 2016. This list records the most-violated safety regulations, informing employers of what to look out for in the future. OSHA’s director of enforcement programs, Thomas Galassi, says that inspectors see “thousands of the same on-the-job hazards, any of which could result in a fatality or severe injury.”
For the full top ten list (fall prevention violations are number one), see the OSHA list. From our perspective, though, these three are very relevant and easy for a manufacturer to impact:
- Electrical Wiring Methods: The US Department of Labor says electrical circuits and wires must be “effectively bonded where necessary to ensure the capacity to conduct safely any fault current.” In 2016, OSHA reported 1,940 violations of this regulation. In particular, employers used unsafe substitutes for permanent wiring and incorrect use of extension cords. To mitigate such accidents, employers should ensure all electrical circuits are closed.
In addition, employees should have hands-on experience with circuits and troubleshooting broken circuits. That way, employees can diagnose and fix problems themselves, before the problems become accidents.
- Electrical General Requirements: OSHA’s electrical standards are designed “to protect employees exposed to dangers such as electrical shock, explosions, etc.” In 2015, 1,704 violations of these standards were reported. The most common violations were improperly installed electrical equipment and obstructed working space around electrical equipment.
Not only should employers ensure that electrical equipment is running properly, but also, employees should be trained to recognize improperly installed equipment. That way, an employee can recognize (and solve) a problem before an accident occurs.
- Machine Guarding: With 2,451 violations of this regulation in 2015, machine guarding means the employer must provide guarding “to protect the operator and other employees in the machine area from hazards created by the point of operation” (US Department of Labor). Heavy machinery requires proper safety measures; otherwise, its operators and workers around the machines are put at great risk.
Machinery should go through daily safety inspections, to minimize malfunctions that could result in injuries or fatalities in the work environment. Additionally, employees should be properly trained on the machinery in their work environment, so that they can troubleshoot and prevent accidents.
Other violations on OSHA’s list include improper construction of scaffolds, inadequate respiratory protection, and faulty electrical wiring. These failures to observe safety regulations endanger employees in their own places of work. From 2014-15, workplace injuries increased by 2%, with a 9% increase in the manufacturing sector alone. Clearly, the manufacturing world needs to change its approach to safety in the workplace.
The Key is Prevention
The manufacturing work environment is filled with safety hazards, and accidents are bound to happen. But it’s still imperative that employees and employers take steps to mitigate accidents wherever possible and avoid injuries and even deaths.
At Simutech, we believe that employee training and proficiency is the best way to prevent accidents. When workers are properly trained and are experienced in their own work environment, accidents are kept to a minimum, and more importantly, employees can keep themselves safe.
Employee safety is one of the most important aspects of our Troubleshooting Skills Training System™. To prioritize the trainees’ safety, they first encounter concepts in a safe, simulated environment, learning to solve various electrical problems before they encounter them in the workplace with live current. Our real-life simulations and five step process give trainees experience with hands-on troubleshooting. The Simutech Course Manager (SCM) tracks each trainees’ progress, so that employers know which employees are ready to work in the work environments, and which need more training.
Safety should always come first. Ultimately, employers are responsible for training their employees sufficiently. With properly trained, experienced employees, accidents are kept to a minimum, and employees can work in a safety. That’s good for them, and good for manufacturers.
- “OSHA Announces Top 10 Most cited Violations of 2016.” OSHA. https://www.mbtmag.com/news/2016/10/osha-announces-top-10-most-cited-violations-2016 October 2016.
- “Fall Protections, Hazard Communications Top List of Workplace Safety Violations.” Industrial Distribution. https://www.inddist.com/news/2015/09/fall-protections-hazard-communications-top-list-workplace-safety-violations September 29, 2015.
- NSC 2016: OSHA’s Top 10 Violations for 2016. EHS Today. http://ehstoday.com/safety/nsc-2016-oshas-top-10-violations-2016#slide-2-field_images-5074. October 18, 2016.
- OSHA. United States Department of Labor. https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=STANDARDS&p_id=9697