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Safety in Manufacturing: Where to Start

Posted by Brian Kiley on May 21, 2014 9:09:00 AM


When it comes to safety and compliance, knowing where to begin is often the biggest obstacle employers face. Between OSHA compliance, state laws, and various insurance rules and regulations, it can be a daunting task. When I visit a manufacturing shop, I want to make sure there are several key safety plans in place. If you don’t have these safety plans in place, this could be a good place for you to start. 


Employees can be exposed to serious physical harm, and sometimes even death, if they work on a machine for which the energy isn’t properly controlled. Employees who service equipment face the greatest risk of injury. Lockout/Tagout is one of the top-cited OSHA enforcement violations in manufacturing shops.

Protect your employees by establishing, implementing, and using a Lockout/Tagout program that isolates energy from devices. Your company should have a written plan, a training session for employees, and a set of locks and tags for the machinery in your shop. Each machine should have its own set of instructions on how to properly lock or tag out.

For more information on establishing your lockout/tagout plan, visit  https://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_General_Facts/factsheet-lockout-tagout.pdf

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Manufacturing shops come in all shapes and sizes, but there’s usually one common denominator: They all have many moving parts. This means employees must be protected from head to toe. Evaluate your shop. Should your employees wear hard hats, hearing protection, safety glasses, and steel-toed shoes? What about respirators or slip-resistant shoes? Determine what’s proper protection for your employees and make it a written plan and protocol. Train your employees on what they should wear and consistently enforce the plan.

Machine Guarding

Machine guarding can be difficult. Employers often ask me these two questions: 1.) What should be guarded? and 2.) How should they guard it?

The general rule of thumb is that any hazard employees can reach over, under, around, or through needs a guard. This means hazards created by the point of operation, nip points, any rotation parts, flying chips, and sparks need to be properly covered. Many different types of guards will suffice when it comes to properly guarding; four types of guards available: fixed, interlocked, adjustable, and self-adjusting.

While manufacturing shops often place guards on the large machinery, they forget about smaller shop items. So when you evaluate machinery for guarding, be sure you check drill presses, grinders, and saws. For more information about proper guarding, visit https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/machineguarding/index.html

This blog was written by Carri Lamb, a Loss Prevention Representative for West Bend.

Topics: West Bend Insurance, Business, Commercial Lines, Risk Management

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