July 1, 2016 / best practices, continuous improvement, Cost Management, industry news, LIT, operator training, productivity, Safety
Safety is one of those issues that every manufacturer knows is important, yet as evidenced by the unending list of OSHA fines, it is pretty clear that it often slips through the cracks. Even big name companies like Anheuser-Busch have been known to fall short.
If it has been a while since you have evaluated or updated the safety policies and procedures used in your metal-cutting organization, it may be time to re-focus your efforts. One simple safety tool that is often overlooked is the use of visual devices. According to visual management expert and author Gwendolyn Galsworth, the “visual workplace” is a huge opportunity for managers to create a safer, more efficient, and reliable manufacturing operation.
“Visual devices translate the thousands of informational transactions that occur every day at work into visible meaning and imbeds that into the living landscape of work,” Galsworth writes on her website. “This visible meaning doesn’t just impact performance—it creates performance.”
This means it may also help save on costs. According to the 2016 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, the most disabling, nonfatal workplace injuries amounted to nearly $62 billion in direct U.S. workers compensation costs. This translates into more than a billion dollars a week spent by businesses on these injuries. In addition, as stated in the white paper, Accounting for Operator Inefficiencies in the Metals 2.0 Environment, neglecting to identify and address safety issues can negatively affect operator efficiency, which can reduce output and impact the bottom line.
Put simply: It pays to keep your employees safe, and visual cues are an easy way to accomplish that.
How can you utilize visual devices to improve safety in your facility? The following are just a few ideas:
- Use Color. LENOX Tools has implemented a color-coded Safety Sticker program that visually displays whether or not its operation has had any safety incidents. Sticker dispensing stations and a safety calendar are located at every entrance to the facility, and every employee is required to put on a green sticker with the number of days “accident free” written on it. When a recordable accident occurs, everyone in the facility changes from a green sticker to a red sticker for a seven-day period. After seven days, everyone reverts back to the green sticker. According to Matt Howell, senior manager, the program has been “a good rallying point for the facility and builds energy around safety.”
- Go Digital. An article from Reliable Plant lists several benefits of investing in digital signage. “In today’s visually oriented world of YouTube videos, film and television, digital screens may capture attention far more effectively than static, textual media, especially in business environments where people are focused on their work,” the article states. In addition, unlike static communication tools, digital signage uses sound and can be conveyed and refreshed regularly, improving the likelihood that an audience pays attention and internalizes critical safety information. (You can read the full article here.)
- Demand Attention. While tried-and-true safety assets like warning signs, stripes on the floor, perimeter fencing/blocks, and lock-out/tag-out procedures can be valuable, an article from Canadian Metalworking points out that these tactics are passive. “Over time they tend to become invisible or are just plain ignored,” the article states. To demand attention from workers, the article suggests operations managers consider investing in warning beacons. Light features such as size, color, output and mounting options can all be used to enhance safety and promote employee awareness in key areas of the facility. (Click here to read the full article.)
What visual strategies are you using to improve safety in your industrial metal-cutting operation?