Signs of safety

People who visit many facilities and have the opportunity to compare appearances with attitudes and statistics develop a pretty accurate idea of what a truly safe plant looks like.

By Paul Studebaker, CMRP, Editor in Chief

People who visit many facilities and have the opportunity to compare appearances with attitudes and statistics develop a pretty accurate idea of what a truly safe plant looks like. Their favorite earmarks:

  • Posters that clearly are just stuck up anywhere, that don’t specifically relate to the machines, are a bad sign. “What counts is evidence of being proactive and involving employees,” says Travis Rhoden, editor, workforce safety, J.J. Keller. “Posters that are customized for the plant’s working conditions, and those that give employee recognition, are good signs.”
  • Poor housekeeping indicates a process problem. Workspaces should be appropriately organized for the work being done.
  • Ergonomics: Awkward positions, stretching and straining indicate problems. “There’s no reason,” Rhoden says. “It is not expensive to put in a height-adjustable table or organize the workspace to put things in reach.”
  • Lighting should be good enough that workers are not straining to see the parts or what they’re doing.

The same principles apply to the maintenance shop. Can equipment be maintained safely? Who’s involved in the purchase decision – maintenance and everybody, or just purchasing? “Some companies do not get maintenance involved, and that causes a lot of trouble,” Rhoden says. “Getting everyone involved also improves morale.”

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