Spring Cleaning for Your Safety Practices
 May. 25, 2011

Good housekeeping should be fundamental in every safety plan and it has application in every work space in every kind of workplace. It’s particularly important in manufacturing settings, where most workers are doing an assortment of tasks with a variety of equipment. Make sure housekeeping is part of your regular safety training and take a few minutes each month to address housekeeping concerns in your manufacturing process. But, perhaps this is also an opportune time to look at your safety practices and give them a little "Spring Cleaning" to ensure they are meeting your needs.

Start your Spring Safety Cleaning by inspecting your operation both physically and by process:

Aisles, Walkways, Stairs

  • Keep aisles unobstructed. Cluttered aisles may block evacuation and cause falls.
  • Clean up spills, because slippery, wet, or icy floors frequently cause falls.
  • Report unstable or uneven walking surfaces so that they can be repaired.
  • Report broken lights so that aisles and stairwells are well lit at all times.

Storage Areas
Shelving in storage areas should be stable and sturdy to prevent items from falling. All storage should be appropriate for the types of materials to be stored.

  • Store common, routinely used items at heights that do not require excess stretching or bending to retrieve.
  • Follow required special storage procedures for hazardous materials.
  • Ensure that all containers are clearly labeled with necessary warnings and instructions.

Powered Equipment
This equipment presents its own unique hazards. Workers can get caught in conveyors, cut by power tools or caught in machinery.

  • Make sure all protective guarding is in place.
  • Ensure all shut off switches are unobstructed.
  • If your manufacturing operation has a conveyor, post how to shut off the equipment in case of an emergency.
  • Never ride on a conveyor.
  • Never try to operate any forklift without proper training.

Manual Material-Handling Equipment
Even simple material handling equipment like hand trucks, dollies, and manual pallet jacks can be hazardous if not used properly.

  • Choose the right hand truck for the job.
  • Stack the load so that you can see over it.
  • Place the largest, heaviest items on the bottom so that the load is stable.
  • Secure the load—strap it in place so that it can't shift position or fall off.
  • Always push, don't pull—keep the load in front of you (unless going up a ramp) and under control.

Lifting
Almost every manufacturing environment involves at least some manual material handling. This requires lifting and lifting is a leading cause of back injuries.

  • Make sure workers lift with their legs, not their back.
  • Advise everyone to ask for help if they need to move a heavy load.

Why This Matters
It matters because your employees matter. Workers’ compensation claims are costly. The average indemnity claim in California runs about $57,000. Take time to clean-up your operation for safety’s sake.

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