Throughout the years the need for safer manufacturing techniques has become more obvious. Approximately 4,500 workers are killed on the job each year, and thousands more are injured, sometimes with life-changing conditions. As technology and safety standards increase, there have evolved several innovations that have assisted in making manufacturing safer and consequently these advances have reduced the number of accidents and deaths in multiple manufacturing fields.
Pre-Market Testing & Research
One innovation that has increased safety in the manufacturing industry is an increased ability to test out equipment in labs, instead of waiting to see how machines will behave during real-time use on the actual production floors. Called pre-market testing, this practice allows manufacturers to work out kinks, flaws, and safety issues before real-time use and the possibility of putting employees at risk.
Site Evaluation & Investigation
Another innovative and growing practice is that of consultants investigating and evaluating causes of manufacturing accidents with the purpose of learning from the mistakes and preventing accidents in the future. From experts such as Scientific Expert Analysis that does with civil engineering in Chicago companies that specialize in electrical, biomedical, biomechanical, mechanical, and metallurgical, to other related analysis type companies, these businesses evaluate the causes of manufacturing accidents in order to prevent them from occurring again.
There are situations during which hazards cannot be eliminated through design, and in these cases, physical barriers can provide a way of hard-guarding for a relatively low monetary investment. In creating these physical barriers, workers must determine how often an area must be accessed, and they must make sure the barrier doesn’t create a completely different safety hazard. Awareness of the need for these physical barriers has advanced the safety of manufacturing environments.
Automated Safety Technology
Advances in automated safety technologies have also decreased the risk of accidents at manufacturing sites. Previously, automated safety technologies often required machines to come to a complete stop and be in a safe state before allowing for repair or maintenance. Because of the downtime (and loss of productivity) that this would cause, workers would often bypass safety systems and put people and equipment at the risk of injury. Today’s automated systems offer a smaller loss of productivity.
Advanced Equipment & Robotic Technology
Additionally, there are advanced machine controls that engineers can now apply in order to detect unsafe machine conditions and place the machine in a “safe state” to keep workers safe. Electromechanical safety relays have been the industry standard in this area, but there is a trend toward programmable or configurable safety-related controllers, due to their increased flexibility.
Today, many manufacturers are realizing that the safety of workers is not only imperative to save lives, but it also increases productivity and business performance. Therefore, the multiple advances that manufacturing safety has seen is both beneficial to workers and to the businesses themselves.