As the manufacturing industry continues to grow across the globe, employers must heighten their efforts to protect employees from job-related injuries. With workers facing a host of safety risks on a daily basis, employers need to ramp up their efforts to keep employees protected from sustaining injuries by falls from rooftops, elevated platforms, contact with dangerous machinery, and electrical hazards. Below are 4 key safety factors to consider, followed by 4 reasons why safety railings are a must for manufacturing companies.
What Are the Most Important Safety Factors to Consider in the Manufacturing Industry?
Manufacturing is consistently among the top five most injury-prone industries in America. With 4.4 out of 100 people in the manufacturing industry suffering an injury while on the job, employers must be aware of the key dangers affecting employees. Some of the top factors impacting the safety of workers in the manufacturing industry include:
Heightened Risk of Falls
“The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data has revealed that falls to a lower level have been the most frequent type of fatal fall in the workplace, with a majority of those caused by falls from roofs, followed by ladders, scaffolds, non-moving vehicles, and building girders or other structural steel.”
- Jennifer Stroschein, Occupational Health & Safety Online
Most employers in the manufacturing industry are aware that workers are at an increased likelihood of falls. However, fall-related injuries continue to account for many of the injuries that occur within the manufacturing sector. A surprising number of falls occur at heights of less than ten feet.
Dangerous Machinery and Equipment
“A wide variety of mechanical motions and actions may present hazards to the worker. These can include the movement of rotating members, reciprocating arms, moving belts, meshing gears, cutting teeth, and any parts that impact or shear.”
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
OSHA points to three basic elements of machinery that pose a danger to employees: the point of operation, the power transmission apparatus, and other moving parts of machines. Specific examples of components that can injure workers include pulleys, feed mechanisms, chains, and gears.
Many manufacturing companies have confined spaces on their premises. OSHA describes confined spaces as areas that are “not necessarily designed for people,” but are “large enough for workers to enter and perform certain jobs.” They are not designed for continuous occupancy and have limited or restricted points of entry. Examples include vaults, storage bins, equipment housings, and pipelines. Employees or visitors may sustain injury if they become trapped in a confined space without the proper means of exiting the space.
Workers employed at manufacturing companies may be exposed to loose wires, frayed power cords, and high voltage electrical panels. Electric shock and other injuries may be sustained if employees come into contact with these elements or if unauthorized personnel attempt to operate electrical machinery. These injuries can occur not only to those working directly with electrical equipment but those who work at height in close proximity to such hazardous areas.
Why Should Manufacturers Install Safety Railings?
As described above, workers in the manufacturing industry can suffer a host of injuries if not sufficiently protected from workplace hazards, and particularly from fall risks. In addition to providing all employees with ongoing safety training, employers must take the proper protective measures to help prevent falls and other injuries. Here Are 4 Reasons Manufacturers Should Install Safety Railings:
Safety Railings Help Prevent Employees from Being Injured by Falls
Virtually every manufacturer is aware of the dangers of falling from rooftops and other elevated areas, and that they need to protect employees from fall-related injuries. However, many organizations are unaware that OSHA provides specific fall protection guidelines to companies that operate dangerous equipment or machinery. Below are two specific recommendations provided by OSHA to help prevent fall-related injuries at manufacturing facilities:
“To prevent employees from being injured from falls, employers must:
- Provide a guardrail and toe-board around every elevated open sided platform, floor or runway.
- Regardless of height, if a worker can fall into or onto dangerous machines or equipment (such as a vat of acid or a conveyor belt) employers must provide guardrails and toe-boards to prevent workers from falling and getting injured.”
– Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
Safety Railings Help Clearly Identify Confined Spaces and Other Restricted Areas
Most manufacturing companies have areas that are restricted because they may put workers, customers, and vendors at risk for injury. Examples include confined spaces and areas within close proximity to dangerous equipment. Unfortunately, injuries sometimes occur after individuals venture into these areas because they are not properly marked. Safety railings help identify the following restricted areas, reducing the likelihood that unauthorized personnel will enter them:
- Confined spaces
- Areas where there are electrical contact hazards
- Oxygen-depleted areas
- Areas where dangerous machinery is operating
Safety Railings Convey a Commitment to Compliance with Industry Regulations
The presence of safety railings on a rooftop or within a manufacturing facility conveys a commitment to safety and a desire to comply with industry regulations. This can bode well for manufacturers that are undergoing inspections by OSHA, ISO, or other regulatory agencies. Specifically, installing safety railings can help prevent serious OSHA violations that could cost your company thousands of dollars in fines.
Employees and Visitors Feel Safer and More Valued
Employees who work in the manufacturing industry are usually aware of the increased risk of injury. However, when workers feel that their safety is a top priority for an employer, they are more likely to feel valued by their employer. The end result is a higher morale among workers. Customers, vendors, and other visitors are also likely to feel safer, helping to establish a foundation for a trusted business relationship.
Given the increased risk of injury among employees in the manufacturing industry, employers should use extra care and discretion when selecting a safety railing provider. Ideally, the safety railings you choose should be made in America and constructed by a manufacturer or fabricator with decades of industry experience. This ensures that your employees will always be safe when working on rooftops and other areas where fall risk is a concern.