Organizations prioritize safety on the production floor because it boosts employee productivity, reduces legal liabilities, eliminates preventable injuries and accidents that cost manufacturers over $8.42 billion yearly, and maximizes revenue. However, establishing and sustaining a reliable safety program on the production floor takes time and effort.
Here are five steps for ensuring safety on the production floor. How can connected worker technology enhance safety compliance?
#1: Conducting regular safety training
Employees encounter various safety risks in their lines of duty, from slips and falls to hazardous materials and faulty machinery. This leads to an increasing number of fatal injuries within facilities. It also indicates that most organizations lack a structured safety training program that helps employees identify and combat the risks.
Companies can keep their production floors safe by developing robust and continuous safety training programs. These programs focus on proactively identifying and eliminating risks, aiming to avert injuries or accidents. Connected worker technology enables companies to monitor safety and provides decision-makers with adequate data to develop safety training programs continuously.
Companies use connected worker technology to develop interactive virtual and augmented reality training sessions, providing immersive learning experiences on workplace safety without exposure to actual risks. Supervisors can also use connected worker technology to provide remote training and support for lone workers and new hires on the production floor.
#2: Standardizing and enforcing safety measures
Human errors and negligence cause several accidents and injuries on the production floor. This is partly due to the lack of standard operating procedures (SOPs). Relaxed enforcement of safety measures is another contributing factor. Unclear guidelines mean production floor workers are unaware of hazards and ways around them. Employees are also known to cut corners if safety enforcement is poor or inconsistent.
Establishing SOPs helps foster consistency among production floor staff and ensures workers know all workplace hazards. SOPs help them complete tasks following specific procedures that reduce or eliminate human errors. Enforcing safety measures makes it easy to hold production floor staff accountable for violating existing safety protocols.
Companies can manage safety measures and track compliance among the production floor workers using the connected worker platform. They can create and share safety procedures and then ensure access for each employee. Additionally, companies can use various sensors for real-time compliance monitoring and identifying opportunities for improving existing SOPs, safety protocols, and enforcement measures.
#3: Providing adequate protective equipment
Personal protective equipment (PPE) reduces and eliminates employee exposure to various hazards. It’s available in different forms depending on workplace hazards. Proper PPE use can prevent about 37.6% of potential workplace injuries and accidents, yet some organizations fail to provide adequate protection.
Organizations are increasingly investing in analytics — including real-time analytics to monitor usage frequency and appropriate PPE use. They also equip protective equipment with sensors to detect safety risks and alert workers about workplace hazards. Strategic implementation of connected worker technology optimizes safety and facilitates accurate data collection.
IoT-enabled wearables allow safety professionals to collect data on employee compliance with PPE protocols. They use the data to estimate medium to long-term PPE requirements, measure the effectiveness of various PPE, and develop better PPE training programs. Safety supervisors can provide remote coaching for production floor employees on proper PPE use to protect themselves, others, the machinery, and the environment.
#4: Developing robust equipment maintenance plans
Some production floor incidents occur due to poorly maintained machinery. Machines running until they fail can cause injuries or release hazardous components into the environment. These failures are costly to fix and can be life-threatening. Abandoning equipment maintenance reduces the lifespan of production assets and increases workplace risks.
Companies can create safer workplaces by developing robust maintenance plans and allocating adequate funds to ensure timely and accurate asset care. A connected worker platform provides a centralized dashboard to monitor real-time equipment performance and identifies underlying deficiencies. This makes it a great tool for developing predictive maintenance algorithms, which estimate when failures are likely to occur. These measures generate timely alerts and reduce safety-threatening emergency breakdowns.
Connected worker technology improves data-driven maintenance interventions, enabling facility managers to develop safer and cost-effective maintenance plans that address equipment defects based on their safety risks.
#5: Conducting regular safety audits
How often do you conduct safety audits to identify emerging safety concerns, PPE deficiencies, standard safety compliance, and relevance of existing safety and operations standards? Comprehensive and frequent safety audits unearth underlying safety risks that may impede productivity and employee well-being on the production floor.
A connected worker platform enables companies to centralize production floor safety information. Here’s how:
Workers can use the safety panel to report hazards and alert others in the facility.
Safety supervisors can pull records of previous safety incidents at the tap of a finger, helping companies complete mandatory safety audits and demonstrate compliance with industry standards.
Companies use the data to improve safety regulations, leading to seamless operations.
Protect your employees
Safety on the production floor is a collective responsibility. Management, production staff, safety professionals, and maintenance teams are all stakeholders in workplace safety. Improving safety in modern production facilities demands access to different data streams, requiring companies to invest in enhanced data management. Connected worker technology is an excellent solution for this industry pain point. Continuously improving production floor safety measures eliminates avoidable workplace injuries and incidents.
About The Author
For over 30 years, Eric Whitley has been a noteworthy leader in the Manufacturing space. In addition to the many publications and articles Eric has written on various manufacturing topics, you may know him from his efforts leading the Total Productive Maintenance effort at Autoliv ASP or from his involvement in the Management Certification programs at The Ohio State University, where he served as an adjunct faculty member.
After an extensive career as a reliability and business improvement consultant, Eric joined L2L, serving as the Director of Smart Manufacturing. His role in this position is to help clients learn and implement L2L’s pragmatic and straightforward approach to corporate digital transformation. Eric lives with his wife of 35 years in Northern Utah. When Eric is not working, he can usually be found on the water with a fishing rod in his hands.