Industrial settings, such as factories, play an important role in the economy, both nationally and globally. They create a mass amount of jobs and produce much needed products and services for consumers. Factories have also been notorious in the past for being dangerous places to work. However, like any other place of work, there are now strict regulations in place to keep workers safe. National Testing highlight 5 health and safety tips to help minimise the risk of injury and establish a happy workplace for you and your employees.
1. Machinery and equipment
HSE statistics state 18% of fatal injuries and 12% of non-fatal injuries occur due to contact with some form of machinery. Therefore it is critical that all machinery should be regularly maintenanced, even if there are no signs of damage. In doing this, an employer can always be assured machinery is fit for purpose and less likely to cause an accident.
Any machinery defects should be reported immediately and clearly marked ‘out of use’ until repaired. Likewise, repairs should be carried out by a qualified professional so machinery will operate to its safest standards. Employees can also contribute to maintaining safe equipment by cleaning them regularly to avoid build of unwanted debris that may clog machines. Employers should supply appropriate forms of personal protective equipment (PPE) for all staff which may include items such as hard hats, protective foot/hand wear, goggles and respiratory masks, to provide extra safety measures.
2. Training procedures
It’s all well and good ensuring machinery is safe to use, but that becomes obsolete if employees are not trained on how to correctly operate them. All new starters should have an informative, rigorous induction and be trained on each piece of machinery they will be using. In addition, any known risks should be clearly marked with hazard signs and highlighted to all staff.
It may be good practise to introduce a ‘buddy system’ so new employees are given extra individualised support when they begin to use heavy machinery. Training should not only be emphasised for new starters, but also for current workers. It is common to have yearly ‘refresher’ courses for existing staff to restore knowledge, safety and confidence in operating the machinery. Similarly, you may see the benefits of having instruction manuals readily available for staff to refresh themselves when needed.
Slips, trips and falls account for many injuries in all workplaces. In manufacturing settings, HSE report 22% of work-related injuries are due to this so it would seem appropriate to try and minimise these risks.
A more evident approach is to train employees to manage any spills by cleaning them up as soon as possible and to display wet floor signs when appropriate. Likewise, keeping all work areas and walkways tidy, and placing machinery away in correct storage facilities when not in use, will minimise the risk of trips and falls.
Employers should also follow British slip test standards, introduced by the HSE, which provide guidelines of the most suitable flooring to minimise slips in your workplace. Contracting an external agency to carry out pendulum slip tests under dry and contaminated conditions on your flooring surface is the most popular option for employers, as it is a highly accurate and reliable test method. Look out for those slip testing companies that are UKAS accredited for complete peace of mind.
4. Fire safety and other hazards
All employers are under a legal obligation to ensure fire safety is maintained in any work environment. Most choose to delegate these responsibilities to an appropriate member of staff such as a risk assessor. Specifically in a factory, there are likely to be copious amounts of packaging, products, machinery and electrical equipment that could be potential fire hazards so it is important regular risk assessments are completed and documented on each.
There should also be a clear evacuation route, highlighted by the appropriate signage. As already mentioned, it is important pathways are always kept free from obstructions to minimise falls, which is particularly important during a fire evacuation to ensure a quick and safe exit. Employees can be made familiar with evacuation plans by fire drills being carried out, at least once a year. During fire drills, the risk assessor can identify any malfunctions such as the alarm system not working or emergency lighting and doors failing. In the event of a fire, there should be various fire extinguishers available for employees, however staff should be fully trained on when to use these and when to evacuate.
5. Your employees
Employers should always have their employee’s best interests at heart to maintain a safe and happy working environment. 24% of non-fatal industrial injuries, as documented by the HSE, are attributed to lifting and handling. You may decide to introduce mechanical handling systems to combat this risk to workers, but remember to include training of how to operate this equipment too.
Within a factory setting, appropriate ventilation systems should be implemented to reduce risk of respiratory disease or illness, and keep your workers safe from any airborne contaminants produced. Due to the intense nature of this work, it may be beneficial for workers to be able to access multiple breaks during the day. This will keep them alert and well rested, and therefore less likely to cause an accident. If accidents do occur, employers should always encourage their employees to report them and any injuries as a result. It’s generally standard practice to provide an official accident book to record any incidents, so risk assessments can be completed following an injury and future risks are kept to a minimal.
If employers and their employees are dedicated to following strict regulations within a factory setting, including some of the useful tips in this article, there should be a recognisable decline in work -related accidents and injuries, making the working environment safe and enjoyable for everyone.
If you are in charge of the health and safety for a factory premises and are in need of advice on risk assessments, pendulum slip testing or even road safety, call our dedicated team at National Testing today. We pride ourselves on providing only the best slip testing services to our customers nationwide and have years of experience risk assessing factory environments.