In 1898’s Great Britain, there were 12,386 non-fatal scalds, burns, and hand tool injuries alone. And that figure represents just a small fraction of the total number of reported and unreported injuries at the time.
It wasn’t until the following century that governments began meticulously collecting workplace safety data and establishing regulatory agencies for enforcing safety standards. Today, factory safety rules govern how both leaders and workers take accountability for workplace safety and incident prevention.
Common industrial safety hazards
No two factories are exactly alike. From toy manufacturing to metal stamping, a factory’s processes, people, and equipment determine its safety requirements and standards. These variables also contribute to the types of issues workers face in their daily tasks.
Here are some of the most common hazards within industrial facilities:
- Lockout tagout failures
- Insufficient/ineffective machine guarding
- Electrical fire hazards
- Arc flashes
- Slips, trips, and falls
- Powered industrial truck (PIT) accidents
Incident investigations help get to the root cause of these accidents and allow EHS teams to implement process improvements. But these efforts can become useless site leadership enforces the rules.
General factory safety rules to implement
The more specific you can be with the rules you implement, the better. When you have specific policies and management enforces the consequences of violating those policies, your workers are more likely to follow them.
For each work area or task, complete a process hazard analysis. Then, determine control measures you can take (both behavioral and system-based) to eliminate or reduce the impact of those hazards.
If you haven’t done this level of analysis, however, here are some general factory safety rules that you can use to get started:
- Hair, nails, and clothing must be tidy and always kept at the standard length.
- All emergency equipment, including e-stops, fire extinguishers, and more must always be accessible.
- Broken or damaged equipment should be red-tagged and set aside until repaired or replaced.
- The 5S for each worker area should be displayed and followed to eliminate fall hazards.
- Workers must have required training on file in order to operate tools and equipment.
- All energy-powered devices must have an obvious, visible lockout device.
- Only trained technicians can make repairs to tools and equipment.
- Employees must wear their required PPE in order to start work activities.
- Stop signs and pedestrian walkways should be clearly labelled and followed.
- All collaborative processes should have an emergency Andon system that workers can access if they run into a safety or quality issue.
It’s easy to attribute the root cause of safety incidents to behavior. But it’s important to establish a culture that compels workers to follow the factory safety rules. And if workers don’t take accountability for their role in creating hazards, you won’t be able to ensure their safety.