4 Plant Safety Tips To Help Plant Managers Decrease Workplace Risks
Industrial job sites, like manufacturing facilities and chemical plants, have a reputation for being dangerous — and often for good reason — but as the importance of safety increases and OSHA guidelines become more strict, lax safety measures become an even greater liability.
Unfortunately, even with the increase in safety protocols, over seven million workers fall victim to work-related injuries per year.
Aside from keeping employees out of harm’s way, a safe and efficient working environment allows for production to stay on track, companies to save money, and equipment to work as long as possible.
The plant manager must set the right tone and guidelines for safety measures at their job sites and facilities.
Let’s dive into four ways you can increase the safety measures at your plant.
Clearly Define the Chain of Command
As a single plant manager, keeping track of every aspect of the workplace is challenging.
Once you’ve identified potential dangers and established safe operating procedures to tackle them, you can begin delegating responsibility.
By doing this, you will get a birds-eye view of your overall plant safety and receive more detailed updates so you can make informed decisions to improve safety. Make sure the people you appoint to these roles are trustworthy and just as invested in protecting workers as you are.
Make sure everyone understands their roles in keeping every worker safe — it’s easy to let protocol slip when no one knows exactly what the proper procedure is. When everyone is on the same page, it’s more likely that safety precautions will be taken seriously and employees will hold each other accountable.
Make sure there is always open communication throughout the plant among managers, employees, and contractors. Clear communication will allow for fewer errors and more process improvements.
Embrace New Technology and Procedures
New tech doesn’t just make a plant more efficient; it often makes it safer, too.
Many technological advances eliminate humans from plant processes, reducing risks and improving employee safety and efficiency.
Artificial intelligence systems can give insights and analytics on how your equipment is working so maintenance can be done before systems crash or become dangerous. Robotics is being used to help with hazardous maintenance around plants, like robotic tank cleaning and confined space entry.
Don’t be afraid to toss out familiar but inefficient processes and implement new ones as they become available. Eliminating processes that put employees in harm’s way will significantly decrease the chance of injuries.
Invest in Safety Resources
It’s risky to continue with processes and procedures that are decades old. Overused equipment and outdated methods have a higher chance of putting employees at risk. Instead, take the time to assess your plant’s safety needs, where you can improve, and then push for a budget that allows you to make changes to safety measures.
Safety measures to consider investing in are:
- Employee training and retraining
- Updated equipment and machinery
- Preventive maintenance (cleaning, repairs, etc.)
- Proper equipment (goggles, hardhats, etc.)
Allocating part of your budget to safety resources is crucial. Plant managers are held responsible for any shortcomings, so your team must have the resources, machinery, tools, and protocols to keep them safe.
Failing to invest in your plant safety increases the chance of employee injuries and product loss.
Reward Practicing Safety
As with any industry, incentivizing employees is a great way to boost improvements and ignite a sense of friendly competition.
When it comes to plant safety, ask your employees where they see issues and how to resolve them. They can be rewarded for following through with their suggestions in the form of a promotion, raise, or additional PTO. Whatever incentive you can offer, do what works best for the company and is exciting for your employees.
Rewarding employees who bring up issues and resolutions will also ensure that no one going above and beyond for workplace safety gets overlooked. Star employees sometimes go unrecognized, which can discourage them from making suggestions that might save lives down the line.
Providing incentives is an easy way to get employees interested in practicing safety diligently for long periods. While offering continuous training is helpful, rewarding employees for achieving long-term safety goals is often more beneficial.
Know Your Influence as a Plant Manager
Establishing a culture that prioritizes safety in the workplace starts with you.
Your priority is to make sure your team is safe, but you have to make sure that gets communicated to the entire plant. When you take safety seriously, so will your team.
To improve plant safety, there are many steps you can take.
After identifying your safety needs and standardizing safety processes, delegate responsibilities among your employees to help you get a better 360-degree view of the safety protocols being met or overlooked. Knowing this information will help you better plan for safety improvements.
To ensure plant safety, adopt the latest technological advances to establish maximum safety and efficiency. Ensure employees have the right equipment, tools, and machinery — and that it’s all working correctly. When equipment is well-kept and running smoothly, it helps reduce the risk of injuries.
After you’ve analyzed your current procedures, spoken to your employees, and seen where improvements should be made, invest in safety resources. Investing in ongoing safety resources and process improvements will ensure a secure workplace for all.
For more tips on how to excel as a plant manager, here are the top plant manager traits needed to be successful.