The Benefits of Conducting Safety Audits and Inspections in Manufacturing Plants
Accidents and injuries can occur without proper safety protocols in place, resulting in costly downtime. A regularly scheduled manufacturing safety audit and inspection allow plant managers to proactively identify potential risks before they become critical issues.
Come along as we explore the benefits of conducting safety audits and inspections in manufacturing plants. From identifying and eliminating risks to helping build a culture of safety, plant managers will have the tools and knowledge to ensure complete facility safety for a more productive and secure workplace.
Understanding Safety Audits and Inspections
Safety audits for manufacturing plants are systematic evaluations of the safety management system of an organization, checking whether the safety plans, practices, and procedures comply with established local, state, and federal standards and regulations.
Certified safety auditors perform these assessments and help the plant manager identify and address any weaknesses in the system.
On the other hand, safety inspections involve assessing specific worksite conditions for hazards or areas of non-compliance with regulations. The goal is to identify potential risks before they become an issue.
A qualified safety professional on-staff or hired consultant performs these inspections documenting the location and nature of safety regulation violations, faulty equipment, or other unsafe conditions.
While some steps to conducting either of these activities might be similar, there are a few key differences.
For example, a manufacturing safety audit typically starts with an analysis of the safety management system and often involves a review of documents, such as safety policies and procedures. They also usually include interviews with personnel to get their input on safety issues.
Inspections are generally more visual in nature and focus on the actual physical conditions that might present hazards. They typically include interviews only if they assess an area’s safety after an accident or when training personnel on proper safety procedures.
Why You Should Conduct Safety Audits and Inspections
Conducting inspections and safety audits for manufacturing plants offers several advantages, with the two most important being legal compliance to improved productivity. But those aren’t the only reasons to conduct a safety audit or inspection.
Identifying Workplace Hazards
By regularly inspecting your manufacturing plant, you can spot potential hazards before they lead to accidents—reducing risks and potential liability. This proactive approach improves overall plant safety but is also more cost-effective considering that a safe manufacturing plant can receive lower insurance premiums, avoid high litigation fees, and save money on medical costs associated with personal injury payouts.
Reducing Workplace Injuries
Both safety audits and injuries have the power to save lives. By auditing current safety protocols, plant managers can identify where training, equipment, or safety upgrades can make the most impact, ensuring workers don’t fall, slip, cut, or otherwise harm themselves while in the plant.
Various governmental bodies, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the United States, regulate workplace safety. Audits and inspections help manufacturing plants conform to these regulations and avoid hefty fines. In addition to penalties, facilities found to operate outside of the law’s mandatory safety regulations risk permanent closure.
The benefits above sound great, but do they actually work? To better understand, look at some case studies where regular safety audits and inspections have made a real difference in the manufacturing industry.
Case Study #1
A US manufacturer found that increasing the frequency of safety inspections significantly reduced worker injuries. By performing inspections at the recommended monthly intervals, they could identify potential hazards sooner and immediately address them before any accidents occurred. As a result, the company has seen a significant reduction in injuries and an increase in overall production efficiency.
Case Study #2
After getting expert recommendations from a certified auditor, a Minnesota-based manufacturing plant implemented several changes to its facility’s safety protocol. A year later, when the plant experienced a major electrical fire, the changes prevented significant injuries or fatalities, resulting in a faster, more affordable recovery process.
Learn more about the common hazards with oil and gas manufacturing plants and how your plant can become a success story with the help of safety audits and inspections.
Key Components of an Effective Safety Audit and Inspection Program
To maximize the positive impact of audits and inspections, consider these critical components of safety and audit inspection programs.
Regular and Thorough Assessments
Establish a routine for conducting audits and inspections on a fixed schedule – monthly, quarterly, or as regulations require. In addition, make sure that audits and inspections are comprehensive and leave no stone unturned.
Involvement of Employees
Involve all employees – including managers, supervisors, and workers – in the audit and inspection process. Encourage communication, collaboration, and shared responsibility for promoting safety.
Detailed Documentation and Reporting
Maintain accurate and up-to-date records of audit and inspection findings. Detailed reports help identify trends and patterns over time, as well as maintain accountability for addressing identified hazards.
Pro Tip: For the best chances of success, begin the entire process with a detailed checklist and a statement of goals for the audit or inspection. This way, no stone is left unturned, and everyone involved will have the same expectations and understanding of the process.
Addressing Findings and Implementing Improvements
Audits and inspections are just the beginning. Only by correcting the discovered hazards will the goal of a safer workplace become a reality. So, after the entire assessment process, address all issues identified on the audit report and follow up with corrective actions based on risk level, addressing the most serious ones first.
For example, invest in safety equipment or tools for employees required to work in hazardous areas before addressing more minor cosmetic concerns like faded paint. Additionally, employee training on new protocols should begin after implementing audit-related safety ideas for manufacturing plants so they can get hands-on experience with the updated system.
Audit Your Plant’s Safety
Regular inspections and verifying compliance with safety standards are crucial to running a safe and profitable manufacturing plant. Not only do these assessments keep workers safe, but they also keep costs down, protecting the plant from hefty fines and penalties.
Remember that the key to a successful audit and inspection process is creating a detailed plan, involving all parties, and following up with corrective actions. Also, stay current with your industry’s safety standards, as they often change over time.
Be sure to contact a local safety expert if you need assistance with developing, conducting, or fixing the issues found in an audit or inspection program.