The manufacturing industry is embracing the future and all that it stands for. Modern, clean, efficient, the industry has come such a long way. This is not only benefiting business and the bottom line, it has had a tremendous impact on the workforce as well. Shaking the stigma of the industrial revolution has been a challenge but business leaders are now taking a closer look at how to improve safety to benefit the employees.
There are 3 critical ways in which manufacturers can improve workforce safety to further strengthen their public image, keep downtime to a minimum while also ensuring their employees remain happy, healthy and safe.
Leadership & Culture
Safety stems from leadership and company culture. Whether it’s a shop floor manager or the C-suite, a focus on safety must come from the upper echelon of a business. If productivity is put above the wellbeing of their employees, it could have a severe impact on the performance of a company. The workforce will see this as the company not caring about them personally. This dramatically reduces an employee’s loyalty to the business while at the same time opening them up to an industrial accident.
Putting productivity above a workforce’s safety can actually have the opposite effect as well. An injury on the job can lead to an incredible amount of downtime, fines and the employee injured could have a wealth of knowledge that has kept a facility running smoothly. Losing anyone on the shop floor or in any facet of a manufacturing operation can have a dramatic impact on a business as a whole. Ensuring that the leadership of a manufacturing entity offers safety training, equipment and genuinely cares about the wellbeing of a workforce could pay off in spades.
Lean manufacturing is primarily focused toward increasing the efficiency and productivity of a manufacturing operation. However, there are other benefits that come along with this tried and true methodology. Lean is focused on creating a shop floor dependent on common sense. For example, if an employee needs a specific fastener to complete their given task, put those fasteners closer to that individual’s work station or color coding walking paths and forklift paths which allows for safer more efficient traffic throughout a facility.
These processes can not only help improve efficiency it can help keep a workforce safe. Reducing strain on employees by looking at a manufacturing process and designing a workstation or even an entire facility around their activities can go a long way. Keeping commonly used components closer to the ground instead of forcing employees to reach up on high shelving units can reduce the risk of accidents. Clearly marking walking paths vs. forklift paths can reduce the chance of a terrible accident. Asking employees where they feel most at risk and developing a new plan of action to reduce those feelings could go a long way. The best people to ask how to reduce the risk of injuries is the staff on the ground floor. Taking their advice and keeping the principles of Lean in mind can help dramatically reduce the risk of accidents, keeping the workforce safe and increasing productivity.
Measuring results of a business’ new safety initiative will be imperative in order to keep employees and leadership motivated. As with any business activity, understanding exactly how much an impact it has had will be vital in order to measure progress. Keeping a close and accurate count of employee injuries as well as efficiency and productivity will help show just how much a focus on safety matters in a modern manufacturing environment. Those from the C-Suite to the people on the shop floor all will a have a part to play when it comes to improving the safety of a manufacturing operation.
Without measuring results, even if a facility becomes safer and it has an impact on a business’ bottom line, people won’t know the outcome. When leadership and the shop floor is able to see tangible results of their efforts, the organization will have a much better chance of keeping the initiative alive.
Safety is critical when it comes to the modern manufacturing industry. It has an impact on recruiting, retaining new employees and a manufacturing businesses bottom line. Showing staff that the business cares about their well being will help motivate the workforce to stay loyal to the company and could have an incredible impact on the overall productivity of a manufacturing operation. Understanding these 3 key principles of safety can go a long way in the modern manufacturing industry.