worker at manufacturing machine
September 11, 2023 Safety News

Manufacturing Industry: Tips to Prevent Workplace Injuries

According to the Rhode Island Manufacturing Association, there are more than 1,500 manufacturing companies in the stateemploying over 41,000 people. Over 70% of RI’s exports are manufactured products and more than half the dollars earned from U.S. exports stem from manufactured goods. Manufacturing is a vital part of the Rhode Island economy but manufacturing poses many safety risks. It is important to be aware of these hazards to keep your employees safe. Every manufacturing facility's safety program should include training for employees on procedures to prevent common injuries like slips and falls, contact with harmful substances, falls, repetitive motion, and strains and sprains from handling materials. Manufacturing companies should also practice fire safety by installing the proper equipment, training employees, and implementing fire safety procedures. 

Tips to prevent workplace injuries within the manufacturing industry:

1.  Inform Supervisors of Unsafe Conditions

  • If you see something that could possibly injure you or one of your co-workers, speak up. Your supervisor is responsible for taking action to reduce the risk of injury at your worksite. 

2. Prevent Slips and Falls

  • Keep floors clean and dry. In addition to being a slip hazard, continually wet surfaces promote the growth of mold, fungi, and bacteria, which can cause infections.
  • Clean up spills immediately. This includes water, grease, food, and oil.
  • Provide warning signs on wet floors.
  • Wear proper footwear to include slip-resistant soles.
  • Use matting in wet areas to avoid slips and falls.
  • Ensure drainage is sufficient and working properly in wet areas.

3. Wear the Proper Safety Equipment

  • A Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) program at your worksite should address the hazard(s) present; the selection, maintenance, and use of PPE; the training of employees; and monitoring of the program to ensure its ongoing effectiveness.
  • All personal protective equipment should be safely designed and constructed, be maintained in a clean and reliable fashion, and properly stored when not in use. PPE should fit comfortably, encouraging workers to use it at all times. Download the Personal Protective Equipment Safety Alert from the Safety Library.
  • With few exceptions, OSHA now requires employers to pay for personal protective equipment used to comply with OSHA standards. The standard makes clear that employers cannot require workers to provide their own PPE and when a worker provides his or her own PPE, the employer must ensure that the equipment is adequate to protect the worker from hazards at the workplace.

4. Have a Fire Safety Plan

  • Every employer should have and maintain an emergency action plan, fire prevention plan and train employees accordingly.
  • Keep flammable objects away from open flames. 
  • Combustible dusts are fine particles that can present an explosion hazard when suspended in air in certain concentrations and conditions. A dust explosion can be catastrophic and result in injuries, death, and property destruction. In many combustible dust accidents, both employers and workers were unaware that a hazard existed. Download the Combustible Dust Safety Alert from the Safety Library.
  • Know the location of all power sources that may need to be turned off in case of emergency.

5. Keep Work Areas and Emergency Exits Clear

  • An emergency evacuation plan should be developed and all employees trained. The “Manager on Duty” (MOD) should know who is working and have a list of employees working in the facility each day.
  • Make sure to keep work areas and emergency exits clear. A cluttered work area can be dangerous. 
  • In the event of a fire or other emergency, a meeting place or places should be assigned away from the front of the building and away from fire equipment.
  • The MOD should ensure that all employees have been accounted for and are safely outside the building. All employees should be trained for evacuation. 

6. Train on Hazardous Materials

  • Employers are required to have a written Hazard Communication Program (HCP) if their employees may be exposed to hazardous chemicals. Each day millions of workers are potentially exposed to any number of chemical hazards causing serious health problems or even death. All workers need to be trained to recognize potential chemical hazards and use proper protective equipment and protocols. Download Hazardous Communications Program Safety Alert from the Safety Library.
  • Maintain a current list of chemicals.
  • Maintain current Safety Data Sheets (SDS).
  • Read and follow recommendations on SDSs.
  • Store hazardous materials in appropriate containers and in appropriate areas.
  • Follow recommendations for protection from hazards.
  • Make sure engineering controls, such as ventilation, are clean and working properly.
  • Ensure that personal protective equipment (PPE) issued to employees meets OSHA guidelines for protection. PPE users should receive training on use, maintenance, storage, end-of-life indicators, and how to obtain replacements.

7. Prevent Falling Objects

  • Use protections like toe boards, toe rails, and nets to prevent objects from falling. 
  • Stack boxes neatly and place heavier objects on lower shelves. Keep stacked boxes and objects out of the way of aisles and work areas.

8. Incorporate a Material Handling Program

  • Many employees work in a fast-paced and sometimes dangerous environment. Not the least of those dangers is the risk of back injury. The amount of strain placed on the muscles and discs of your back is directly related to handling techniques that you use every day. Learn about Beacon's Material Handler Program and Request the Lifting Techniques Poster from the Safety Library. 
  • To avoid back injury, follow these healthy back tips:
    • Warm up prior to your work shift and periodically during your shift. 
    • Maintain a healthy lower back posture by keeping the head up and back arched.
    • Pivot your feet instead of twisting your back. Move your feet.
    • Use a staggered stance (feet slightly wider than shoulder width) with knees bent to take advantage of the strong leg muscles.
    • Move smoothly. Avoid quick and jerky movements
    • Keep loads close to your body.
    • Do not work beyond your capacity.
    • User proper assistive devices.

9. Take Regular Breaks

  • Many work-related injuries occur when an employee is tired or stressed. Extended or unusual work shifts may be more stressful physically, mentally, and emotionally. Non-traditional shifts and extended work hours may disrupt the body's regular schedule, leading to increased fatigue, stress, and lack of concentration. These effects lead to an increased risk of operator error, injuries, and/or accidents. 

10. Maintain and Use Equipment Properly

  • Make sure that you are using each piece of equipment the way it was intended and that it is in proper condition. Regularly inspect and clean equipment to ensure that it is safe for use.
  • Moving machine parts have the potential to cause severe workplace injuries, such as crushed fingers or hands, amputations, burns, or blindness. Guards or Safeguards are essential for protecting workers from these preventable injuries. Any machine part, function, or process that may cause injury must be safeguarded. Download the Machine Guarding Safety Alert from the Safety Library.
  • Dozens of workers are killed and more are seriously injured each year when employees fail to de-energize and lock out equipment before working on it. While many deaths result from electrocutions, workers have also been crushed and many have suffered amputations or other injuries. Download the Lockout/Tagout Safety Alert from the Safety Library.

11. Powered Industrial Trucks

  • Many employees are injured when lift trucks are inadvertently driven off loading docks, or lifts fall between docks and unsecured trailers. Employees are also struck by lift trucks, or fall while on elevated pallets. Download the Powered Industrial Trucks Safety Alert from the Safety Library.
  • Follow these Lift Truck Safety Tips:
    • OSHA requires that all forklifts be examined at least daily before being placed in service. Forklifts used on a round-the-clock basis must be examined after each shift. [29 CFR 1910.178(q)(7)]
    • Seatbelts should be worn at all times while operating the lift trucks.
    • Drivers should operate the lifts at a walking speed.
    • Modifications or additions that affect capacity or safe operation shall not be performed without prior written approval from the forklift truck manufacturer. Capacity, operations, and maintenance instruction plates, tags, or decals shall be changed accordingly. [29 CFR 1910.178(a)(4)]
    • Never alter the roof structure of the lift truck by adding plywood, shrink wrap, tarps, or other devices that would restrict overhead visibility. As a reminder, any modifications to the lift truck have to be approved by the forklift truck manufacturer.
    • Shrink wrap is inexpensive, easy to use, and versatile. Use it to secure palletized goods, rolled goods, and other materials being moved by the forklift. Securing the load helps keep the load stable and reduces the chance of items falling off the forks. For heavier loads, plastic or cloth banding should be used. Metal banding can be dangerous when cutting due to tension in the load. Ensure proper PPE is used during these situations.

Beacon's Safety Experts are Here to Help!

Beacon's Loss Prevention Team is available to help you improve your workplace safety program. Contact us to schedule a consultation or request a safety resource. 

Workers' Comp for Manufacturing Companies

Beacon Mutual
Written by

Beacon Mutual

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