When employees see that safety matters to management, it matters more to employees. From conveyance at distribution center bays to route delivery processes, drivers and workers must be empowered to bring safety issues and concerns to the attention of management, even to the point of shutting down a manufacturing plant line if a safety hazard is observed. Safety issues must be anticipated and quickly addressed when they are brought to management’s attention.
Companies must show pride in an excellent safety record and express sincere regret for injuries or accidents. Caring about employee safety is one of the most important things companies can do for workers. Caring about safety results in higher employee retention, better employee recruitment, and employees will reward management with higher productivity and fewer accidents.
Stopping On-The-Job Fatalities
A total of 5,147 workers died as a result of on-the-job injuries in 2017 according to data released in December by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 887 fatal falls occurred in 2017, the most since the census began in 1992.
•Deaths related to unintentional overdoses from non-medical drug or alcohol use while at work rose 25 percent to 272. Fatal injuries in this category have climbed by at least 25 percent for five straight years. Transportation-related fatalities – which fell slightly to 2,077 – accounted for 40 percent of all fatal work-related injuries
•Drivers/sales workers and truck drivers experienced 840 fatal injuries, the most of any occupation.
•775 deaths occurred among workers age 65 and older, an increase of 87 from 2016. Overall, 15 percent of fatally injured workers were 65 and older, the highest proportion for that demographic since the census began.
•The states with the highest number of worker deaths were Texas with 534, followed by California (376), New York (313) and Florida (299).
OSHA acting administrator Loren Sweatt said, “To help reduce the number of injuries and fatalities, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) updated its safety regulations in 2016 to encourage employers to improve workplace safety. Under the new rule, any workplace with 250 or more employees must electronically submit accident, illness, and injury data to OSHA every quarter. The organization will post information about workplace safety records on its website. Even without the potential for public shame from the new regulations, workplace safety should be a top-of-mind issue for every company. Here are four ways to get ahead of the new laws and protect employees.”
Safety Training and Drills
Part of any safety program should include periodic training and drills to ensure employees know what to do in an emergency while performing their jobs. Practice evacuations for emergencies such as fire or chemical spills, but also make sure people know the locations of first-aid kits and how to contact first-responders. This is particularly true for route delivery drivers who enter and work in many different facilities.
The lean philosophy is one of the most potent tools for safety improvement. Lean encourages neatness and the use of proper methods. It has been proven that injuries are more likely to occur in a cluttered, dirty environment or while using unauthorized methods. Lean also recommends error-proofing processes through the use of tools and patterns.
A safe warehouse, distribution center, or truck loading area delivers important cost-savings through higher employee satisfaction and increased productivity, fewer workplace disruptions, lower absenteeism, and equipment downtime.
The key performance indicators (KPIs) referenced in OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) can also be expressed as Overall Employee Effectiveness.
Equipment that Shows Employees That Safety Matters
Manual material handling tasks are one of the major sources of back injuries among workers. Delivery of heavy or bulky products, especially with high frequency of lifts, is contributing to back injuries of many workers. Delivery drivers may have to frequently handle heavy bottled liquid cases which are in awkward locations. Workers that deliver soft drinks, beer, and other merchandise to the next delivery point or small retail stores require short period of rests.
Corrective actions in this arena have included pullout shelves for delivery trucks in order to reduce the height of the grasp for heavy objects. Additionally, an improved truck loading pattern was developed in order to locate heavier products at the best location for a safe lift. Portable ramps were developed to assist in pulling loaded hand-trucks over curbs and the best hand-trucks under different load conditions were evaluated to develop ergonomic solutions which ensured all workers have reduced exposure to back injury risk factors.
Companies know that long-term success depends on working to ensure the safety of workers; a safe and healthy workplace is a fundamental right of every person and is a business imperative. Workplace policies require responsibility for maintaining a productive workplace in every part of the company to minimize the risk of accidents, injury, and exposure to health hazards for all associates and contractors.
In addition to requiring compliance with applicable legal requirements, leading companies also mandate that manufacturing and distribution facilities implement BS OHSAS 18001 and ISO 45001 (internationally recognized frameworks of occupational health and safety management systems and requirements to improve employee safety, reduce workplace risks and create better, safer working conditions, all over the world).
Improving Route-to-Market Safety
A prominent component of a safety program is improving route-to-market safety. Route-to-market, or RTM, is defined as the movement of products and people between plants and customers. RTM is characterized by a complex chain of events that varies greatly throughout the world and often involves third-party partners.
Because everything from sport utility vehicles and trucks to sprinter vans and tractor-trailers are used to distribute products, solutions must be developed and implemented at a local level.
RTM encompasses the downstream storage and distribution of our product, as well as any movement of employees along public roadways. Proactive safety processes that emphasize situational awareness and attention to detail are critical.