Shop floor safety is a continual concern for manufacturers. But there’s much more to it than simply ensuring worker protections, inspecting equipment prior to operation and maintaining hygienic and organized work areas. Continuous shop floor safety begins with an overarching safety-centered philosophy — a mindset that permeates a company’s culture and is reflected in the way workers behave and perform their daily tasks.
Abiding by the following fundamental manufacturing safety tips can help your company optimize shop floor safety practices. It can also help your organization foster a safety-focused ideology that extends beyond the shop floor and across the entire enterprise.
These may seem like common-sense, cliched catchphrases to many manufacturing veterans, so a closer examination of each strategy is worthwhile to shed light on how they can drive lasting shop floor safety improvements.
The most common shop floor accidents (those caused by falls, overexertion, machinery mishaps, and so forth) occur when workers fail to do their jobs correctly because they haven’t been properly trained on procedures.
For safety to be a priority, manufacturers must ensure their shop floor training programs are:
Thorough and germane shop floor training helps workers do their jobs correctly and avoid injuries. It also reduces costs and safeguards employers’ legal obligations.
All effective shop floor training programs share four characteristics:
Open and mutually beneficial communication between shop floor workers, supervisors and managers goes hand in hand with effective shop floor training. Worker involvement is the key to shop floor safety, so bidirectional communication must be as clear as possible between everyone involved.
Safety-minded managers always take the time to regularly meet with subordinates to inform them of procedural updates and coordinate solutions to problems. This approach often includes making “Gemba walks,” a cornerstone of the Lean management philosophy in which supervisors do the following:
Employees must feel they are continually engaged in the process and that their recommendations are heard – and rightly so, since they’re the best source of knowing what works and what doesn’t. Workers are safer and more productive when they know they can approach supervisors with concerns that will be heeded and accounted for in decision-making.
An organization’s shop floor safety must be verifiable through internal and external audits. The philosophy behind these audits should be applicable not only to shop floor control, but across the wider enterprise as part of an effort to embed safety and quality into the overall culture.
Periodic shop floor safety audits should include scheduled reviews of equipment and machinery to make sure they:
The more regularly audits are conducted, the easier it is for an organization to:
A comprehensive audit program is critical for establishing long-term safety plans and developing preventive measures that can help avoid problems down the road.
Human errors can jeopardize safety on a shop floor. They’re typically the primary culprit behind deviation occurrences as well. In fact, human error is responsible for more than 80% of process deviations in life sciences manufacturing.(1) If existing systems can’t properly identify and explain errors, any subsequent corrective and preventive actions (CAPAs) won’t address the conditions causing the failures.
To mitigate human errors that could jeopardize safety, first ask the following questions:
Thoroughly addressing each of these questions can help an organization establish a well-structured human-error investigation and CAPA process.
The measurement and management of risk factors is critical to sustained safety. One successful risk management approach that constitutes the backbone of PepsiCo Foods Canada’s lauded safety program is based on three key principles(2):
A cyclical process of identifying, evaluating, prioritizing and controlling risks helps reduce potential hazards to workers. Findings from these assessment cycles help generate deeper insights into applicable tasks, hazards and potentially affected personnel.
A reliable shop floor management software system is an invaluable tool for streamlining the capture and management of all the documentation, risk assessments, documented communications and audit findings that contribute to shop floor safety. Digitization enhances shop floor safety by:
Learn more about digital manufacturing solutions and the dramatic impact they can have on shop floor safety by downloading “The Ultimate Guide to Digitizing the Shop Floor.”
James Jardine is a marketing content writer at MasterControl, Inc., a leading provider of cloud-based quality and compliance software solutions. He has covered life sciences, technology and regulatory matters for MasterControl and various industry publications since 2007. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in journalism from the University of Utah. Prior to joining MasterControl, James held several senior communications, operations and development positions. Working for more than a decade in the non-profit sector, he served as the Utah/Idaho director of communications for the American Cancer Society and as the Utah Food Bank’s grants and contracts manager.
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