Identifying and eliminating industrial equipment safety hazards

Industrial equipment safety hazards pose major risks but there are so many ways to manage and control them. Identifying the hazards within your processes, putting control measures in place, and teaching workers how to protect themselves can go a long way towards reducing incident rates.

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Common industrial equipment safety hazards

Identifying equipment hazards is the first step towards managing them. In my experience, finding these hazards isn’t too hard, given that many issues come to the surface when you try to use a piece of equipment.

Here are the main hazards to look out for:

  • Electrical safety hazards (arc flashes, wires, circuits, etc.)
  • Moving and rotating parts
  • Pinch, crush, and pull hazards
  • Confined space hazards (related to air monitoring equipment)
  • Fall hazards due to unguarded platforms, misuse of PPE, etc.
  • Noise exposure hazards
  • Chemical exposure or environmental events

You’ll want to conduct a job hazard analysis for each task that involves industrial equipment. That way, you’ll have a clear idea of what hazards you need to control and where they are.

Ways to manage equipment hazards

Once you have your list of hazards, you need to implement effective control measures. The equipment manual is a great place to start. It has all the essential information for safe use and maintenance of the equipment. Building your own strategies around the warnings and recommendations in the manual ensures the best chance of success.

Here are some additional strategies for controlling industrial equipment safety hazards:

  • Create equipment-specific training courses that teach workers how to safely inspect, use, and care for their tools.
  • Conduct regular toolbox talks on pieces of equipment within your facility.
  • Enforce a strict preventative maintenance schedule.
  • Create a designated storage and repair area for broken or damaged equipment.
  • Make task-specific PPE requirements and enforce them consistently.
  • Post emergency shutdown procedures next to each piece of equipment.
  • Implement a hazard reporting system for your workers to share safety concerns.

Always start with proactive safety measures like teaching employees how to report hazards. This will give you the best chance of being able to correct issues before they cause a near miss or recordable incident.

Eliminating equipment hazards

Don’t forget to ask yourself the most important question of all:

“Is this piece of equipment essential to the process or can we eliminate it altogether?”

Proactive safety is all about eliminating hazards wherever possible. So, if the equipment poses any danger and it’s not essential to the business, then what can you do to remove it from your processes? If you can shift your thinking in this way, you’ll have a much easier time managing and reducing industrial equipment safety hazards onsite.