workers in a manufacturing plant looking at clipboard

A successful leader in manufacturing establishes an environment rooted in efficiency and quality. More importantly, they’re committed to the health and safety of their team members, taking extra measures to build relevant policies, procedures, and regulations. Successful leaders want to know how to improve safety in manufacturing.

In 2022, there were 5,486 fatal injuries recorded in the U.S., representing a 5.7% increase from the previous year.

Safety lapses have significant consequences, with financial losses, legal liabilities, reputation damage, and turnover. Currently, the manufacturing industry has one of the highest employee turnover rates, at 28.6%.

Today’s dynamic manufacturing landscape requires leaders who put safety at the forefront of their objectives. The health and well-being of your people must take precedence, so consider how to improve safety in manufacturing in your workplace.

Best Practices for Enforcing Safety Protocols

Manufacturing leaders can prioritize safety protocols by standardizing the following best practices:

1. Prioritize Safety in Decision-Making

Industry-leading manufacturing companies have a safety program that helps leaders make appropriate decisions. By keeping safety elements like equipment usage, chemical handling, and PPE requirements at the forefront, every decision will safeguard your team’s well-being.

2. Conduct Continuous Training

Provide continuous education on safety protocols that outline procedures, proper equipment use, and updates or changes to safety processes.

Regular training sessions will communicate the importance of safety to all your organization’s employees. Ensure team members of all levels participate in these educational experiences to reinforce the safety culture.

3. Lead by Example

Consistently adhering to safety protocols and coaching to safety standards, regardless of role, title, or position sets a positive example for your team members.

For example, if you set a standard and ask your people to follow stair safety procedures, such as using handrails when ascending or descending stairs, in an effort to avoid slips, trips, and falls, you must lead the effort. If others observe leaders being casual about even minor safety standards, it creates a disconnect that implies leadership isn’t serious about safety.

When team members see their leaders demonstrating a genuine commitment to safety, they’ll be inclined to adopt the same mindset and emulate this dedication.

workers in a manufacturing plant with thumbs up

Leadership Strategy to Encourage Employee Ownership of Safety Protocols

Safety doesn’t come to fruition from one individual. Instead, building a robust safety protocol requires collective responsibility. A safe environment is a shared experience where everyone looks out for one another and speaks up when something isn’t right.

1. Encourage Transparency

No matter their role, all team members should feel able and empowered to coach to safety as well as speak up about it. These individuals live and breathe daily production strategies and protocols and must actively contribute to safety concerns and conversations.

Encourage staff to regularly:

  • Report workplace hazards. Every person has a unique role that unveils unique hazards.
  • Speak up about workplace protocols that do and do not make team members comfortable.
  • Provide recommendations on how management can improve specific workflow processes or safety procedures. Consider having team members propose and lead the implementation of new procedures.

Openness and transparency lets your team avoid the “set it and forget it” mentality. Safety should be ongoing; empowering your staff to actively participate facilitates the process.

2. Participate in Safety Audits

Implement a preventative program to ensure equipment and machinery are regularly inspected and maintained. Some Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards require annual training.

Have your top performers who consistently embody safety protocols helm these initiatives.

Team members should have a pre-audit discussion to review audit objectives and expectations. Manufacturing team members can play a more critical role in improving and possibly simplifying safety practices for themselves and their colleagues by participating in safety audits.

3. Recognize and Reward Safe Behaviors

Acknowledge team members who embody the organization’s safety culture. As you highlight them (privately or in public), share how their specific behaviors and actions drive safe workplace practices, improve safety metrics, and protect everyone.

Recognition teaches individuals the various ways to create a culture of safety, and will motivate staff members to prioritize safety behaviors.

Leverage Personalized Learning with CMOE

Safety should be an integral and ongoing discussion at your workplace. For further guidance on creating robust safety measures and to learn how to improve safety in manufacturing, we encourage you to lean on CMOE’s manufacturing leadership training. Contact us for more information on how we can help.

About the Author
CMOE’s Design Team is comprised of individuals with diverse and complementary strengths, talents, education, and experience who have come together to bring a unique service to CMOE’s clients. Our team has a rich depth of knowledge, holding advanced degrees in areas such as business management, psychology, communication, human resource management, organizational development, and sociology.

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