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Designing Health & Safety Procedures for Manufacturers

Managing health and safety in manufacturing companies is particularly challenging, but the consequences of not doing so can be severe for both employees and employers.

The wide range of risks faced by manufacturing workers means that designing and implementing working procedures that are both safe and efficient is often difficult; something that is perhaps reflected in the official accident data for the industry.

However, it is possible to develop workable systems that keep your employees safe and protect your business from the financial and reputational damage of a serious accident and subsequent prosecution – all without the company’s profits being hit.

If you do not have the required expertise in-house, a good health and safety specialist can help you to follow best practice, create a safe environment at your manufacturing facility, ensure that you meet all your legal obligations, and stay up to date with changes to regulations.

Should you be in any doubt about how important the issue is, take a look at the facts and figures below.

Accident, illness and prosecution statistics

Manufacturing is statistically one of the most dangerous sectors to be employed in. Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures show that around 2% of workers sustained some kind of workplace injury during 2014/15, resulting in 300,000 working days being lost.

There were 16 fatal injuries in the sector during the year and 13,108 employer-reported non-fatal injuries, including 10,246 that required more than seven days off work.

The HSE’s statistics also revealed that approximately 3% of manufacturing workers suffered illnesses they believed were caused or exacerbated by their work. Around 2.1 million working days were lost due to illness.

While the official estimate of the economic cost of injury and illness in manufacturing in 2014/15 is not yet available, the figure for the previous year was £1.2 billion, with the burden shared between employers, taxpayers and the individuals involved.

During 2014/15, the HSE issued 557 prohibition notices and 2,987 improvement notices in the manufacturing sector, and prosecuted 183 cases resulting in total fines of more than £4.4 million.

While the statistics demonstrate that significant progress has been made over the last 20 years, they also illustrate how important it is for manufacturers to implement the right health and safety procedures and what can happen when employers take a lax approach to safeguarding their employees.

Keeping workers and the public safe

Every company with more than five employees is legally required to complete a risk assessment and have a documented health and safety policy. These are the basic elements that should inform your working procedures; helping to minimise the risk of accidents, keeping your staff and the public safe, and ensuring you avoid HSE investigations.

For manufacturers, the list of possible risks is extensive and devising a thorough and workable health and safety policy can be a big job. Depending on the exact nature of your operation, you may have to consider the risks posed by:

  • Fast moving machinery (operating and maintenance)
  • Cutting tools
  • Noise and vibration
  • High temperatures
  • Hazardous chemicals
  • Dust and fumes
  • Vehicles
  • Manual handling
  • Slips, trips and falls
  • Working at height

And it is not only the risk of someone being injured in an accident that you have to think about. You also need to take steps to protect workers from conditions such as respiratory illnesses, skin diseases, musculoskeletal disorders, hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) and hearing impairment.

Designing procedures and policies that promote safe working practices without compromising the efficiency of the site’s operation is a task that requires a high level of expertise. If your manufacturing business does not have the resources to employ a full-time health and safety officer, using an experienced consultant is likely to be the most cost-effective way to get the job done properly.

How can SafetyNow help your manufacturing business?

Our experts have vast experience of carrying out health and safety inspections, designing and implementing policies, and managing all the associated documentation on behalf of clients who range from SMEs with a handful of employees to large manufacturing operations.

At a practical level our services can involve anything from undertaking statutory risk assessments to staff training – in short, everything you need to keep your employees safe and ensure you comply with all relevant health and safety legislation tailored to meet the exact requirements of your business.

To find out more or to arrange an initial discussion about your needs, please contact SafetyNow.