The UK manufacturing sector can be a dangerous place to work. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reports approximately 61,000 non-fatal injuries per year and 26 fatalities in the period 2018-19. Sobering statistics indeed. And yet there are many ways to manage and minimise the risks.

The first step is to implement and maintain robust and easy-to-follow health and safety procedures in the workplace. Here are the measures you should follow to protect the safety and wellbeing of your employees

Get a Survey to Identify Risks

A thorough assessment of your workplace is vital to clarify the risks and ensure you meet the necessary standards. If anything is lacking, a survey will reveal the areas that need improving.

You can use an internal auditor – in fact, you should have a member of staff who is fully trained in the health and safety requirements of your business. However, it’s prudent to use an external surveyor as well. As an independent official, they will view your premises and practices with a fresh and impartial eye.

Make Health and Safety Training a Priority

Your procedures are only as good as the people who follow them. New recruits must have a comprehensive health and safety induction programme, and all staff should have regular recaps to keep them on track – especially as regulations and procedures constantly change.

Training must also include the correct use of machinery and tools, whilst regular inspections and training updates ensure that employees always work as safely as possible.

Common Health Concerns in Manufacturing

Hearing issues from noisy machinery, and skin and breathing conditions from exposure to toxic substances are common hazards in the manufacturing sector. Solvents, cleaning products, oils and other chemicals are all to blame.

Poorly maintained tools and equipment are an accident waiting to happen and, of course, incorrect use is never going to have a good outcome.

Use the Right Equipment and Clothing

All of these issues can be minimised, if not eliminated, with a few common sense measures. Good quality earbuds will protect the ears and the correct clothing, gloves, respirators, safety glasses and hard hats guard against dangerous equipment and substances.

Machine Guarding

Contact with moving machinery resulted in 14% of the fatalities in the manufacturing sector in 2018/19 (second only to falls from height). There’s no excuse for this, as moving parts can be guarded with a huge range of protective screens, fencing and anti-splash guards.

There are off-the-shelf solutions and bespoke options available, and there is something for every conceivable tool and production process: lathes, drills, grinding machines and sanding belts, to name but a handful.

Conveyor belts are used throughout the manufacturing sector and not all come with adequate guarding. However, there are plenty of guarding options to ensure they can be operated safely.

Forklift Trucks

Serious injuries and fatalities involving forklifts are all too common. Collisions between people and forklifts are often to blame – largely due to inadequate segregation in loading bays and warehouses. Drivers falling from their vehicles and being crushed is another regular issue, and this is entirely due to their failure to wear a seatbelt.

Clearly marked vehicle areas and compulsory seatbelt use should be an essential part of your health and safety policy.

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