While safety in the manufacturing industry has gradually improved over the last several decades, the concerns are still very real. Despite the move
toward automation, humans remain at the center of today’s
manufacturing processes — handling materials and manipulating machinery that subjects them to risk. In addition,
the cultures of many companies still emphasize productivity
over safety, exposing their employees to serious injuries.
Indeed, roughly four in every 100 manufacturing workers
are injured or become ill on the job every year, according
to the U.S. Department of Labor. And of the 10,000
severe injuries that occur annually in the workplace, the
highest proportion is in the manufacturing sector — which
accounts for 57 percent of all amputations and 26 percent
of all hospitalizations.
Manufacturers that aren’t committed to maintaining safe
work environments put employees and their businesses in
jeopardy. In 2015, for example, 353 U.S. manufacturing
workers died from on-the-job accidents — the highest
fatality rate for the manufacturing industry since 2008.
Moreover, companies that don’t prioritize safety expose
themselves to financial risk. For U.S. businesses, the most
disabling non-fatal injuries add up to a whopping $62 billion
in direct compensation costs per year — or more than $1
billion per week — according to the 2016 Liberty Mutual
Workplace Safety Index.
So what can manufacturing companies do to protect their
employees from safety hazards? Consider the following
No. 1 — Make safety a leadership priority. At the
end of the day, what’s important to every single person
in an organization mirrors the priorities of their boss.
If workers believe in safety, but their manager solely
evaluates them on production output, employees will learn
to favor productivity at the expense of safety. As a result, a
safe workplace must be established at the top levels of an
Manufacturing Safety Hazards
By Bill Kessler