Manufacturing Safety & OSHA: Compliance or Welfare?
In certain aspects, manufacturing is just like any other business out there. You run a business that supplies a demand, and it makes a profit by giving people what they want. That’s basic knowledge. What isn’t basic knowledge is that there are tons of compliance and standard programs and procedures that manufacturing companies must tend to.
The worst part? Most manufacturing employers don’t think about manufacturing safety and standard compliance as a way to achieve long-term welfare. Many are capitalistic with the sole purpose of growing their ‘money tree’ quickly. These manufacturing companies know that company bankruptcy from safety hazards is very rare. It happens, but there’s always a loophole around it.
Jonathan Shaffer, CSP, Re:Build Optimation’s Safety Director said, “What’s not rare is… Somebody losing a hand, somebody being blinded for life… Somebody not coming home to their family at all. Those things are not necessarily rare, and that’s what we’re trying to prevent.”
That is a welfare approach, and this is what we believe in.
When a manufacturing company successfully and completely understands the identification of ‘manufacturing safety,’ the people’s welfare should become the priority, and compliance second. And the happy truth is that when you prioritize welfare, compliance will be of no issue because everything will fall in the right place. Seek safety first, and compliance will follow.
“I try to focus on safety and people more than compliance because what I found is if you focus on the people aspect then the compliance aspect takes care of itself. You want to have people go home safely.” Jonathan emphasized.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, enacted by Congress, created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) who’s mission is to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for workers in the United States and its territories. OSHA facilitates this enforcement by setting and developing standards as well as providing training, outreach, education, and assistance to most, but not all, private sector employers and workers in various industries from construction, manufacturing, maritime, as well as agriculture.
The OSHA Act was first enacted in response to annual workplace accidents that caused 14,000 worker deaths and 2.5 million disabled workers. Since OSHA’s inception, the work-fatality rate has been reduced by more than half with a significant decrease in injury and illness rates.
Although the education, training, and enforcement of OSHA have been the saving grace of many workplace accidents there are still several disadvantages when looking at OSHA as a presiding safety standard. Some of the OSHA standards are very generic, while some are very specific. Those that are written very well can be comprehensive guidance for employers, but some still lack extensive benchmarks due to the lack of cohesive evidence from specific causes of injury or proven preventative systems.
Very often, employers deal with compliance for a while or are experiencing a certain situation that makes it hard to interpret and implement parts of the compliance standards. This is where companies require additional help from companies like Re:Build Optimation to ensure that safety hazards are not only compliance-approached but also welfare-approached.
In an interview with Jonathan Shaffer (Director of Safety for Re:Build Optimation), he addressed the fact that whether a standard is written poorly or greatly, they are written in blood. Factually, everything in the compliance standard is written based on someone’s injury, pain, and even death. The safety and health standards were developed to make sure that safety measures were put in order.
The concept is this…
If a manufacturing company focuses on the safety measures of their workplace by doing what the compliance guides through, then the company will be just fine when being audited, or an accident occurs.
Workplace accidents are evaluated based on the systems and safety procedures in place. If all the requirements and standard compliances are met, there is nothing to fear. Ultimately, every manufacturing company should never lack safety processes or equipment. The safer, the better.
Main Components of Manufacturing Safety
Contributing factors in establishing a safe environment in a manufacturing area include but are not limited to:
- Employee training
- PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)
- Machine Guarding
Other key factors comprise failure prevention, ergonomics, process safety, and Control of Hazardous Energy. The first three components have been the main direct causes of workplace accidents.
When it comes to employee training, there are many sub-factors that must be considered even from the employment qualification process. Training a manufacturing worker goes beyond specific skill sets, but covers attitude, linguistic ability, confidence, motivation, as well as critical thinking ability. Encompassing a worker in manufacturing safety training means teaching and ensuring that the workers know how to not only carry out their daily tasks but to keep themselves and the people around them safe during and after the task.
While the employees do their part, employers must provide PPE as part of their contribution to both facilitate a safe working environment and experience. According to OSHA, personal protective equipment (PPE), must be worn to minimize exposure to hazards that cause serious workplace injuries and illnesses in conjunction with other controls, or when other controls are not feasible. These injuries and illnesses may result from contact with chemical, radiological, physical, electrical, mechanical, or other workplace hazards.
Finally, machine guarding is considered the first line of defense against workplace accidents caused by machine operation. Each machine, whether automatic or manual, must have adequate safeguard features to protect both the operators and the workers within the working area.
The most common machine-related injuries are caused by cuts and lacerations, repetitive strain injuries, toxic fumes injuries, instability & load loss injuries, lock-out and tag-out injuries, as well as hand tool-related injuries.
Studies show that approximately 30% of workplace injuries annually are caused by cuts and lacerations including but not limited to scratches, abrasions, puncture wounds, and amputations. All of these were caused by inadequate safety controls, lack of PPE, system shortcuts, and/or poor training.
The Money Tree Aspect and How Safety Pays
“It is always cheaper to do the job right the first time.”
— Phil Crosby
A huge myth and misconception that companies tend to believe when implementing manufacturing safety is this:
It is much cheaper and easier to face the aftermath of an accident than to waste time and money to take extreme safety measures in the first place.
Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.
The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that businesses spend an average of $1,100 per injured worker but pay an average of $1,310,000 per worker death. The total cost businesses paid for workplace injuries in 2020 was $163.9 billion.
It is not the average cost of a work-related injury. The cost per medically consulted injury in 2021 was $42,000, while the cost per death was $1,340,000.
To help companies with an estimated ROIC, we suggest using OSHA’s Safety Pays program. With Safety Pays, employers can estimate and assess the impact of occupational injuries and illnesses on their profitability. It is not to provide a detailed analysis of a particular company’s occupational injury and illness costs, but local OSHA On-site Consultation Offices can help identify workplace hazards as well as develop and implement an effective injury and illness prevention program.
To use this program, the employer will first require information about labor hours, average injuries, etc., or select the Bureau of Labor Statistics average for the NAIC (North American Industrial Code). Once the information is filled in, it shows exactly how much money a company needs to make to cover the occurring incidents.
“It’s not only the direct costs. You might have to pay out more money for your worker’s comp premium and lose the person for a week of work where they normally would be working creating lost productivity. But there are a lot of indirect costs too. “Jonathan elaborated.
The Safety Pays tool helps to add up all the costs and losses, while also showing how much the employer can save if there are fewer incidents occurring every year. This is a crucial factor as manufacturing companies today are having less and less margin. This is why Industry 4.0 and 5.0 focus on efficiency as we approach a much thinner margin stake.
In the last decade, many companies have suffered from time losses due to worker injury due to increased insurance premiums.
“Companies like ours pay premiums. It’s typically not like your car insurance. It’s much more expensive than that. If you reduce your premium by, let’s say, 10%, that might be $100,000. There’s a lot of money in trying to prevent property damage, accidents, and fatalities at worksites. Safety does pay.”
Different Standards and Scenarios
Depending on each manufacturing purpose, manufacturing companies are covered by different standards.
Process safety management programs are indeed very difficult. The analogy is that depending on the industry and the danger at stake, different manufacturing plants require different safety measures, which then result in different compliance standards.
The first and foremost requirement in the OSHA standard is a documented PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) assessment. If a worker were to get hurt OSHA would investigate. The first thing OSHA would ask for is the job task and what kind of personal protective equipment was required for that specific role.
Although it’s not a critical part of compliance, it is a great start to creating a transparent system of manufacturing safety in the workplace. It’s not rare that management and employers focus on production more than they do on safety. For most, worker safety is considered a tertiary issue.
In some cases, yellow lines on rails may not be as crucial in keeping a worker’s safety, but when chemicals are involved, and the workers aren’t wearing goggles they’re one step away from being blinded and this is where things get serious. It would, however, be a different thing in manufacturing plants that have automated blades or chopping machines that require safety distance and machine guarding from workers to the machine. This is why different cases and scenarios have and require different standards.
There are many ways we can and many reasons why we must promote safety in a manufacturing workplace. With a small mindset shift and conscious approach, developing and building a profitable and safe manufacturing workplace is very possible. OSHA and compliance standards are put in place to help companies save both time and money in the long run.
Although some bits of the standards may not be extremely comprehensive and well-written, most of the standards were built for each industry based on factual accidents and proof of injury. With the help of Re:Build Optimation, many manufacturing companies across the USA have drastically minimized the average rate of accidents and injury through scientific, statistical, and practical safety measures, advanced management and employee training, as well as system optimization.
Our Corporate Safety Director, Jonathan A. Shaffer CSP, has helped several clients identify and work through challenging safety issues in the nuclear, manufacturing, shipyard, construction, and aerospace/defense industries. Jonathan also provides safety support and environmental health studies for military construction projects while serving part-time as a commissioned Environmental Science and Industrial Hygiene Officer in the United States Army Reserve. Having a safety professional on staff who will support your project through work experience and technical knowledge improves the opportunity to get it done right, the first time, and without incident.
In addition, our team of well-trained and technically proficient engineers and skilled trades personnel will proactively think and plan for your safety. Our safety services include:
- On-site comprehensive safety and health audits
- Safety and health investigations
- OSHA compliance and post-inspection support
- Risk assessments for prioritization of action
- On-site safety and health training for multiple industries/topics
- Design, fabrication, and installation of machine guards, control systems, interlocks, containment areas,
- Design, fabrication, and installation of ventilation
- Design, fabrication, and installation of noise reduction insulation
- Professional Engineer services as required by regulation or consensus standard.
- Validation of internal assessments and mitigation techniques
- Pre-qualification support for third-party brokers such as ISNetworld, Avetta, Browz, and others
Learn more about our Safety Services and Machine Guarding by visiting https://www.optimation.us/services/safety-services-and-machine-guarding/ or contact us today by filling out the form below.
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