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Manufacturers Must Invest In Training & Technology in Mission to Reduce Tragic Workplace Injuries, Fatalities

By: Jillian Dudek

Lost time, lost appendages and lost lives. In today’s technology-assisted working environment where artificial intelligence and real-time data feeds provide up-to-the-second information, there is no excuse for any of those three unfortunate scenarios to unfold. And yet they do, to the tune of nearly 5,200 U.S. workplace fatalities reported in 2016 alone. Faced with this reality, companies like SYN-FAB are ramping up offerings that allow for increased manufacturing safety given an investment of time and resources into training and equipment. There are steps that any operation in the manufacturing sector can take to help their employees out – and maybe even save a life in the process.

According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), nearly 100 American workers were killed on-the-job during every week of 2016, the most recent year that statistics were available for. The hazards that most often claim workers’ lives are falls, being struck by an object, electrocution and being caught in or between equipment. The Travelers Companies, which is a U.S.-based insurance company, points out that 100,000 manufacturing workers are injured annually. For those on the shop floor who primarily use their hands to get jobs done, coming in contact with a dangerous object, overexertion and slips and falls are the three most-common causes for injury. As such, Travelers advocates for “creating a culture of safety that lets employees know that taking precautions is a top priority.” Prevention through hazard identification is additionally one of OSHA’s suggested solutions to curbing workplace injuries and fatalities, which all carry an emotional as well as financial burden that must be acknowledged.

Life-Changing Investments

Without involving OSHA, there are a number of steps that private employers can take immediately that will have a significant impact on safety. SYN-FAB, which since the early 1970s has been designing and manufacturing cameras capable of monitoring high temperatures inside furnaces and boilers, knows the inherent dangers in their industry. With temperatures exceeding 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit inside some of these furnaces, safety’s stakes are raised due to the associated risks. With high-temperature cameras keeping a constant watch on the interior that no human could ever hope to view, it’s possible to pinpoint by-product build-up or minuscule defects before something catastrophic happens. This is an investment in time and resources, but the alternative is simply flying blind and needlessly risking human lives.

According to a Sept. 3, 2018 article from Lehigh Valley Business, which covers workplace issues across Pennsylvania, “Focus Four” is a training initiative that can really hit home among construction workers. That’s because those aforementioned OSHA-identified risks were responsible for one out of every five worker deaths in 2016. “We constantly train our people so they have a fighting chance,” an Allentown, Pennsylvania-based corporate safety officer, told Lehigh Valley Business. Since some in the construction world have likened veteran workers to “cowboys” who are all too willing to take unnecessary on-the-job risks, it’s easy to argue for increased training programs in fields that have already proven problematic.

About the Author: Jillian Dudek is a freelance writer with a background in small and large-scale manufacturing. She specializes in topics related to worker safety and ways for companies of all sizes to implement measures that keep employees on the job while still meeting production goals and benchmarks.