Making Employee Safety a Priority in Industrial Fabrication
Employee safety in the industrial fabrication industry should be a paramount consideration for all companies. At AMF, we believe our employees are our most important assets, and that makes their safety our number one priority.
Safety vs. Productivity
When it comes to safety vs. productivity, employee safety should always be the clear winner. In fact, when properly implemented the two goals should complement each other. After all, safe employees are productive employees.
A survey by the National Safety Council reported that 70 percent of employees say that safety is part of their orientation and ongoing training. It’s important to remind both employees and management not to let safety practices slack due to a heavy workload and pending deadlines. Encouraging employees to stay focused will not only keep them safe, but will actually help get the job done right and on time.
The bottom line: Employees cannot and should not be forced to choose between safe practices and the pressure of keeping productivity goals. Most importantly, they must have the ability to stop production when they feel safety concerns are at stake.
Safety culture begins at the top
When it comes to worker safety in industrial fabrication, a safety manager is a key liaison between management and employees. The safety manager’s responsibilities begin with ensuring that all OSHA requirements are met. Under OSHA, employers have a responsibility to provide a safe work environment, including:
- Providing a workplace free from serious recognized hazards
- Comply with standards and regulations listed under OSH Act
- Ensure employees have and are trained to use safe and properly maintained tools and equipment
- Establish or update operating procedures and communicate them so that employees follow safety and health requirements.
- Provide safety training in a language and vocabulary workers can understand.
Safety issues should always be addressed immediately, before anyone gets hurt.
All Metals Fabrication works hard to create and maintain a safe work environment.
Our standard safety practices include:
- Yearly safety and process audits by outside consultants
- Monthly company-wide safety meetings
- Regular and accurate measuring of accidents and the root causes of those accidents
- Culture set up to allow employees to stop work when conditions feel unsafe
Workplace safety is important for many reasons, including employee welfare and retention, maintaining OSHA compliance, and manufacturing efficiency. OSHA reports that “an effective safety and health program…is the right thing to do, and doing it right pays off in lower costs, increased productivity, and higher employee morale.” At All Metals Fabrication, we wholeheartedly agree.
Waterjet Safety: Why It’s Important
Waterjet cutting is relatively safe compared to other cutting technologies, but it still comes with its own set of hazards and special safety practices. Here are some useful tips to keep in mind when working with waterjets:
Eyes, ears and fingers. Waterjet cutting doesn’t present the same problems as welding and forming, but that doesn’t mean you should be any less careful working with the equipment. While it is generally hard to get your fingers under the actual waterjet stream, you can cut yourself on any of the slats used for holding materials during the jet cutting process. These slats often do not get cleaned as regularly and can create a perfect environment for dangerous bacteria to grow. Do yourself a favor and practice waterjet safety by wearing protective gloves whenever you are removing or loading a new piece onto the machine.
When cutting on a waterjet machine it is also important to wear protective goggles and head wear. If you’re used to the sounds that a jet cutter makes, you might not realize how loud they actually are. Believe it or not, these machines do their work at speeds faster than sound can travel, which can damage your ear drums if you are not taking the proper safety precautions.
Familiarize yourself with the motion controls. A waterjet machine running at full speed can cover as much ground as 100 inches per minute. That’s surprisingly fast and the equivalent of trying to play a game of tag with a hungry cheetah. Keep your hands away from the machine whenever it is operating. If things aren’t cutting the way you would like them to, it is okay to stop and re-inspect everything. It is better to get something done a bit slower than to get hurt and not finish a job at all.
Additional things to keep in mind. If you are getting ready to work with a waterjet cutter, make sure your environment is supportive of what you are doing. Is the equipment you are going to use labeled with the proper safety precautions and instructions? If not, step away! Are you following all of your company’s procedures and protocols? If it has been a while since you’ve reviewed them, now would be a great time to do so.
Waterjet cutting can be a fun job, but if you are not careful it can come with a cost. Always do your homework before utilizing new machinery and make sure you are following the correct waterjet safety precautions at all times. Good luck, and have a blast!