How to Improve Manufacturing Safety without Hurting Productivity

Improving productivity is one of the most important objectives in a manufacturing plant. However, there are several other important constraints on this objective. For example, you can’t go over budget on efforts to improve your speed and efficiency. Perhaps one of the most important constraints is safety. While trying to squeeze out more efficiency, you need to maintain a safe environment. It’s pretty easy to see what your safety rates are, but you also need to be taking preventative measures to keep incident rates low. Here are some ways to do this.


Proper safety training is crucial to safety in a manufacturing plant. Employees need to know what type of clothing they should wear in order to stay safe. For example, they should not have any loose clothing, hair, or jewelry when they are near moving machinery. Loose items could get called and pull them into the machine. They should also know how to properly operate machinery. For example, they should know how much material can be fed into a machine at a time. Overloading a machine could result in a dangerous failure that causes parts to fly across the workplace.

Visual Management

Visual reminders are another great way to keep your employees conscious of safety practices. For example, only a machine operator should be within a certain distance of a machine in operation. To help people respect the safety boundary around a machine, you could paint a safety perimeter on the floor. If your workplace has moving machinery, like a forklift, you could place signs that remind the driver to be careful around corners and not drive too quickly. By having these visual reminders, your employees will be constantly reminded of the practices that keep them safe. This will improve your productivity as you won’t have to halt manufacturing to deal with as many accidents.

Hiring Enough Team Members

Overworked employees are a hazard waiting to happen. When an employee is overworked, they get tired and stressed. This can lead to poor cognitive thinking which will lead to mistakes. Hiring enough employees can improve your safety and efficiency. Your employees will be less stressed. When there aren’t enough people, an employee might be tempted to take shortcuts to get tasks accomplished more quickly. This can cause problems for safety and manufacturing quality. However, with extra help, they will pay more attention to getting the job done right. Often managers avoid hiring new team members because they consider it too costly. However, you may find that the increased production caused by more employees will yield greater profits.

Streamlining Waste Disposal

A dirty workplace is a hazardous and unproductive workplace. When you have waste lying around, it becomes very easy to lose things. This leads to a lot of time wasted searching, or money wasted replacing items. Waste also can contribute to trips, falls, cuts, and other accidents. To streamline your waste disposal, you need to first identify the areas of your manufacturing plant that generate waste. Keep track of how fast the waste is generated. Once you know these things, you can set up waste bins and a cleaning schedule. A great tool to use is a self-dumping hopper. There are multiple ways self-dumping hoppers boost workplace safety in addition to streamlining the waste removal process. Because they are self-dumping, you can avoid lifting and spilling problems.

Regular Maintenance

If your machines are not properly maintained, you will experience several problems. Failing to properly lubricate your machines will cause increased wear on the machine components from the higher friction. This will increase the power that your machines consume and will lead to excessive vibration. Not only will this cause your machines to lose precision and compromise manufacturing quality, but it could lead to breakdowns that could cause injuries. Most machines come with a manufacturer’s guide for a maintenance schedule. By having your employees follow this maintenance schedule, they will be more familiar with how to safely use the machine and will notice signs of wear before a catastrophic machine failure occurs.

Proper Safety Equipment

A major key to safety is having the proper safety equipment. If your manufacturing plant causes your employees to work from heights, you need to make sure that you have the proper harnesses and safety restraints that will protect from falls. If they work around rough, sharp, or rough surfaces, they should have gloves and protective clothing. If there is any possibility of materials falling from overhead, they should be equipped with hard hats. Masks and protective sheeting should be used if you use welding. These are just some of the protective equipment that is necessary. There are many other types of safety equipment that is necessary for other types of jobs. By providing these to your employees, you will increase their safety and ensure that your manufacturing proceeds without a hitch.

Lifting Equipment

Lifting heavy loads is generally a major part of manufacturing. Lifting is one of the most common causes of injury at the workplace. OSHA says that an employee should not lift more than 50 lbs. by themselves. If you are lifting and transporting material that is heavier than that, you should provide hand trucks, pallet jacks, and/or forklifts. Even for items that are less than 50 lbs., you can help protect your employees by providing lifting straps and steel toed boots. Make sure that you train your employees on how to lift properly. They should always maintain a straight back so that they don’t suffer an injury.

Lock Out/Tag Out

If you are having to perform maintenance on a machine, you can ensure safety by using lock out/tag out devices. A lock out device is some sort of mechanical device that can be attached to operating controls or machine plugs to prevent a machine from being turned on or plugged in while maintenance is being performed. Tag out devices are tags that are placed on machines to alert employees that the machine is having maintenance performed. Using these devices will help protect your employees when they are performing maintenance work. Every employee should understand that only the individual that placed a lock out/tag out device is permitted to remove it.

At the end of the day, there is always a chance that accidents can occur. However, if you follow these tips, you will be doing a lot to help protect your employees. Your employees will be able to see that you care about their safety. This will help promote a healthy working culture and your employees will work harder and smarter than they otherwise would.