We head into work each day with the expectation that we’ll put in our time and labor and then return home to our families safe and sound. The reality is though millions of Americans fall victim to workplace injuries each year. Some are as minor as a cut or scrape while others are much more severe and sometimes even fatal. Workplace incidents cause an enormous amount of physical, financial and emotional hardship for workers and their families. For organizations, the repercussions mean stiff penalties, violations and tarnished reputations.
Every seven seconds a workplace injury occurs in the United States. The numbers are even more staggering when analyzing the data and realizing this equates to 12,900 people hurt daily or 4.7 million a year, according to the National Safety Council. So, which industries are most receptive to workplace hazards? Manufacturing ranks in the top echelon of occupations with the largest number of injuries. With a growing demand for an increased workforce, these figures will likely continue to rise.
Most common workplace accidents
There are many hazards that put the health and safety of manufacturing workers at risk. From exposure to dangerous chemicals and corrosive cleaning solutions to confined spaces and heavy machinery; manufacturers have the difficult task of trying to address a wide array of safety issues.
One issue at the top of the list is oil. This chemical substance is prevalent in industrial equipment to make sure it is properly lubricated and operating. However, oil poses a wide range of health hazards to workers such as sensitization and irritation as well as physical risks including injury from slips and falls. Spills and leaks can happen at any point of the oil change process from draining and adding oil to disposing of the used oil.
Slips, trips and falls account for a third of all personal injuries and is a top cause of workers’ compensation claims. The risk is even greater for an individual performing oil duties, as they are exposed to toxic chemicals and susceptible to tripping and falling. The types of injuries include broken bones, cuts and lacerations, sprains, strains and tears. And most of these can easily be prevented.
Five key practices to avert a workplace incident:
Good housekeeping - If the plant floor is clean and well organized, an organization’s safety program can be effectively executed. Proper housekeeping should be a routine and be a part of each worker’s daily performance.
Wear proper shoes - Shoes are a critical component of personal protective equipment. Footwear that fits properly increases comfort and helps to prevent fatigue. Shoes or work boots with non-slip soles can also improve safety for employees.
Regulate individual behavior - The toughest of the three, it’s human nature to sometimes let our guard down and be distracted whether that’s being in a hurry or trying to manage multiple activities at once. It’s important for each individual to stay alert and pay attention to avoid becoming a statistic.
Standardize work instructions - Clear and concise work instructions and a standardized process reduce error and ensure the task at hand is completed safely and efficiently. Less variation in a process makes it easier to identify any existing safety issues.
Implement a new way to change oil to alleviate risk of workplace injury - In addition to the guidelines stated above, a safer working environment can be implemented by making simple adjustments to processes and procedures. For example, oil spills can be eliminated completely with a simplified approach to ensure safer and cleaner oil changes.
QuickFit™ Oil Change System from Parker provides a three-step process that allows oil changes to be done faster and more effectively. Oil is purged directly to the waste containment and then a vacuum is applied to extract the used oil from the pan. This same connection point is then utilized to refill the system with new oil through the filter. By applying one connection per compartment, it results in less variability during maintenance checks.
Reducing the number of steps in the process can eliminate any risk of safety hazards or spills, which improves an organizations’ bottom line by creating less consumable waste. Plus, QuickFit’s streamlined process helps to lower operating costs, increase profitability and reduce oil change time by 50 percent.
QuickFit applies ergonomic principles with a simplified design that grants easier access to even the most isolated and cramped components of an industrial application. This in return reduces exposure to fluids from fill to purge and greatly reduces the possibility of slips, trips and falls. Better safety conditions while changing oil saves time and costs on avoiding workplace injuries while increasing productivity.
Workplace safety cannot exist on best practices guidelines and policies alone. A safe working environment is established on a vision reflecting the way you do business through leadership, prevention and employee empowerment. And, a commitment to protecting the health and safety of people and the environments in which they operate. This demonstrates valid workplace safety and health that improves morale, productivity and the bottom line.
Contributed by Matt Walley, product sales manager, Quick Coupling Division, Parker Hannifin