Health and safety in factories: What to consider
Health and safety standards at work can’t afford to slip. The consequences could be serious for employers and employees alike, particularly in hazardous environments such as factories. Those in the manufacturing industry can be more vulnerable to workplace injury and even have a higher chance of fatal injury according to HSE figures.
Table of Contents
What dangers are common in factory environments?
The nature of factory environments puts staff in harm’s way significantly more than many other workplaces. As such, employers have to pay special attention to health and safety and implement rigorous policies and procedures to protect everyone involved.
Some of the most significant hazards in manufacturing and production environments include heavy machinery, moving vehicles, toxic materials, slip, trip and fall hazards, and the risk of fires and explosions. Different factories often have unique risks, depending on what is being produced and the methods used, but it’s the responsibility of employers to assess and mitigate these risks as far as possible.
Health and safety fundamentals in factories
Employers have a legal duty to protect the health and wellbeing of their employees while at work under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. In factory environments, this would usually include:
Risk assessments and planning: The health and safety process always starts with identifying and assessing risks. Completing risk assessments should be done regularly to identify any new hazards present and plans should be made to combat these risks.
Comprehensive and regular training: With hazards identified, safety training is a fundamental feature of health and safety. This should inform employees of the risks and the strategies, methods and procedures designed to mitigate them. Engaging employees is important because a lack of awareness or understanding can increase the risk of accidents and mistakes. Regular training should also help to refresh key takeaways in the minds of employees.
Provision of correct PPE: Employees need the right personal protective equipment to carry out their duties effectively and safely. Risk assessments should evaluate the need for PPE and then plans should be put in place to facilitate this provision to workers. Having quality gear, such as supporting rope from suppliers like RS, and sufficient supplies are crucial.
Robust equipment and machinery maintenance: Machinery can be hazardous if not used correctly, but even more so without the correct servicing. Maintenance should be carried out to a proper schedule and inspections done regularly to spot any signs of damage. Once issues are reported, machinery should be disabled before checks and repairs can be made.
Clear safety protocols: Health and safety in the factory environment need thorough and dedicated safety protocols outlined by management. Clear signage should be visible around the workplace to show key reminders and prompt adherence to important policies. Integrating safety protocols into the workplace culture is a great way to achieve accountability throughout.