You already know how complex factory environments are, with many moving parts and a variety of things that can go wrong at the drop of a hat.
That’s why ensuring you’ve got the appropriate safety measures in your factory is paramount.
Today, we bring you a complete guide on maintaining a safe environment in your factory consistently.
In this blog, we’ll cover:
- What are safety measures in the factory environment
- Why are these safety measures relevant
- What NOT to do when implementing safety measures
- How to implement safety measures correctly
- Lean manufacturing & safety measures
- Shop floor management & safety measures
- Audits & safety measures
- mlean & safety measures in your factory
What are safety measures in the factory environment?
Safety measures take many shapes and sizes in the complex environment of a factory.
These measures are paramount to ensure your workplace is safe and your workers are always protected, motivated, and able to carry out their tasks effectively.
From reducing potential physical harm to ensuring workloads aren’t risking burnout, there are many layers to making sure everyone is safe on the job.
Why are these safety measures relevant?
Apart from the obvious, which is to keep everyone out of harm’s way, safety measures are a great way to reduce absenteeism and increase productivity, as your workers will be more motivated to go to work in an environment where they feel safe, respected, and valued.
When your workers feel safe and have a decluttered environment to work in, they’re more likely to be more satisfied with their jobs and overperform, resulting in better engagement with problem-solving, talent retention, and accountability.
What NOT to do when implementing safety measures
One of the main things to avoid when implementing safety measures in your factory is inconsistency.
Throughout the blog, we’ll tell you which digital tools can help you ensure your factory is as safe as humanly possible, but these tools don’t work in a vacuum.
If you aren’t consistent with the processes, if you don’t consistently monitor the safety measures you have in place, or fail to regularly ask your frontline workers about any safety issues they might be worried about, you won’t be able to implement safety measures that work.
Another thing you should always avoid is ignoring safety concerns your employees bring you. Everything might look great on paper, but if someone who’s working in the field is telling you that there are some safety issues around their workspace, you need to check it ASAP.
At the end of the day, your employees are the ones working on the frontlines, and it’s paramount that you listen to any safety concerns they have.
Lastly, you shouldn’t implement any generic safety measures that might not work for your factory.
Depending on the industry you’re in, your factory’s layout, and your organisation’s structure, you’ll need to implement a specific set of measures. Don’t listen to the generic advice some guru might be giving on LinkedIn, focus on what your factory and your people need, and go from there.
There are some measures that do work across factories and industries, but it’s paramount that you adapt any measure you take to your factory model.
How to implement safety measures correctly
Now that we’ve seen what not to do, let’s get into what to do.
One of the first things you need to do is study the layout and structure of your factory and don’t be vague. What are your lines called? Where are they going? How do they sit in your factory’s plans? Where are your storage spaces located?
To make sure your safety measures work, you need to have tight control over every small detail. If your lines’ names aren’t well defined, you won’t be able to sort any issues in them quickly and effectively. If you’re not sure of the location of certain lines, or items, you’ll struggle to keep a safe environment for your workers.
If you’re unsure whether something can become a safety risk, don’t be afraid to ask. You might not physically be able to constantly monitor the safety of a specific area, which is why it’s important to check regularly with the people working there. If there’s an issue, you’ll be able to tackle it before it becomes a problem, and if there isn’t one, you can rest assured everything’s working fine, and your workers will appreciate your checking in on them.
Something that’ll help you enormously is the use of digital tools. Digitalising these processes means that you’ll be able to take a look in real-time at any issues that arise. You’ll also be able to audit and check the status of every moving part in your factory, ensuring that your safety measures are working well.
Lean manufacturing & safety measures
In lean manufacturing, there are several digital tools to help you keep track of everything that happens in your factory.
Today, we’ve made a selection of the most important digital tools to ensure safety in your factory at all times.
Let’s take a look!
Risk prevention policies
To have robust policies around risk prevention is a must to ensure a high level of safety in your factory.
A factory without risk prevention policies is like a car without a motor —it might look great on the outside, but it won’t get you very far.
Paper tends to get lost and messy, so a digital tool that addresses these policies is the best way to go.
Our HSE Risks tool allows you to have all your risk prevention policies in one place and ready to be accessed by anyone at any given time. It allows for real-time reporting from your frontline workers, including multimedia material, and it also allows you to configure risk categories specific to your factory.
5S to boost safety in your factory
The 5S methodology is one of the best tools to standardise processes and create a safe and tidy environment.
It consists of 5 steps, although some people have added a sixth S to refer to safety.
Let’s see why this approach can help you set and maintain a safe environment in your factory consistently:
The first S stands for Seiri (Sort) —when you sort out your workspace and get rid of everything you don’t need, you’re making room for essential elements for that specific station, and eliminating any elements that can be distracting, useless, or cause issues
The second S is for Seiton (Set in order) —once you’ve gotten rid of the things you don’t need, setting the space in order is fundamental to optimising all the processes that take place there, as well as the safety of those working there
We’ve reached the third S, which stands for Seisho (Shine) —a clean working area means fewer accidents and more preventive actions. When dirt and grime accumulate, it can affect the working of the machines, which means safety issues for your workers, downtime, delayed production, and higher associated costs
For the fourth S, we find Seiketsu (Standardise) —as we said at the beginning of this blog, the recipe for success in implementing safety measures in your factory is to be consistent. And what better way to be consistent than by standardising your processes? When you make sure your 5S methodology becomes part of your organisation’s culture, you not only increase safety, but also productivity, profitability, and work satisfaction among your employees
Lastly, the fifth S tells us about Shitsuke (Sustain) —the best way to make sure your hard work is effective consistently is by sustaining it. The best way to do this is by conducting regular audits to make sure everything’s working according to plan
As you can see, the 5S method goes beyond having a tidy space. It’s your stepping stone to make sure your workforce is safe, your processes are optimised, and your competitive advantage doesn’t disappear.
When this process is digitalised, safety and productivity are much easier to manage, and worker satisfaction is very likely to increase. We offer a 5S Workshop tool that offers all the tools you need to implement 5S (and audit it) effortlessly in real-time.
Visual standards to keep everything in check
Another great tool to ensure safety in the workplace is the existence of visual standards that are properly displayed and accessible by all members of your organisation at all times.
This helps you set the standards for cleanliness, organisation, and manufacturing quality, so it’s great to keep everything safe, clean, and organised while boosting productivity and supporting high-quality standards in production.
If you have visual standard cards around the workspace, make sure they’re clearly visible at all times.
We’d recommend using a digital tool for this so these standards can be accessed by your workforce through their phones or tablets whenever they need to, just as our Visual Standard module allows.
Skills matrix to track and boost your workforce’s skills and performance
A very important point regarding safety is your workforce’s skills.
Every person has different skill sets, and it’s fundamental to ensure that the person working in a specific line knows what they’re doing and how to do it right.
If you get someone to operate a machine without being properly trained, the risk of accidents increases, as well as the loss of product quality and motivation on the part of the worker.
A great digital tool for this is a skill matrix or ILUO matrix. When you can see how skilled your workers are at performing specific tasks, you know how to deploy your workforce to achieve optimal levels of safety, performance, and quality.
Some digital tools, like our Skill Matrix, also allow you to perform regular checks to assess your workers’ performance and development, so you’ll always know what things they’re able to do and which tasks require more training on their part.
Shop floor management & safety measures
The shop floor is the heart of your factory, and also the place with the greatest potential for security issues.
Because of all the moving parts involved in this area, we’ve compiled a list of digital tools specific to shop floor management that increase safety.
Let’s dig in!
A very important element of a safe environment is its predictable nature.
When you know exactly what’s going to happen and when, you get rid of unpredictable dangers, and can carry on with your day knowing exactly what comes next.
If you can create a routine process that works for the different lines of your factory, you’ll create a safe environment where everybody knows what to do, and how to do it.
Our Routines tool is a very good example of how digital instructions that connect everybody throughout your whole organisation help you keep everything in check at all times.
Gemba walks are the bread and butter of shop floor management, as you won’t get better information about your processes than directly from the source.
Gemba walks are great to ensure everything is working as it should, to find improvement opportunities, and to address any concerns.
By digitalising your Gemba walks and connecting everybody on your shop floor, you significantly increase safety and productivity, as everyone is on the same page at all times.
Gemba walks aren’t just about productivity and operational efficiency. They’re also about safety and process optimisation to make sure your workers are protected at all times.
These walks should happen regularly, and you should be able to schedule them and communicate them with your teams in real-time in a connected environment.
Our Gemba Walk tool helps you do just that, as well as escalating issues, gathering multimedia information, and notifying the relevant people of any issues around their area.
Visual management board
A visual management board is paramount to look at objectives and KPIs, but also safety indicators and metrics.
If you have a visual management board where you can see the number of accidents, the most problematic areas of your factory, and the action plans to solve them, you’ll be better able to address and prevent any safety issues that may arise.
Our SFM Board works great for that, as it also offers action plans for you to address any issues, connects everybody relevant to the area you’re managing, and sends out alerts if anything isn’t going the way it’s supposed to.
Audits & safety measures
Once you have some or all these measures in place, you need to keep them up through time.
The best way to do this is by creating an auditing routine where you can check what needs sorting and how it’s affecting your workers’ safety and your factory’s production.
Digital auditing tools are a great way to do this, as you don’t need to rely on paper that might get lost or messy.
Our Audit tool feeds information from all the other modules in the system, so you don’t need to input your data twice; our system does that for you.
This means your audits are tidy and readily available for the relevant people to access, so you’ll always be aware of how everything is working at any given time.
mlean & safety measures in your factory
As we’ve seen, safety measures are the single most important factor to take into account when setting up your factory for success.
Consistency is key to ensuring everybody is safe at all times, increasing work productivity, production quality, and overall output.
A safe, skilled, and motivated workforce is fundamental to boost your bottom line and help you stay competitive.
And here at mlean, we understand how important it is to protect, encourage, and nurture your workforce.
Your workers are at the forefront of your success. They’re the reason you’re hitting your targets, and they need to have the best possible tools to carry out their daily tasks safely and confidently.
We’ve developed our mlean Production System (mPS) software to help you boost safety, productivity, and profitability levels throughout your factory.
Our software ties every process in your factory together, connecting your people throughout your whole organisation and giving you full control and visibility of how everything is going at any given time.
We include an action plan section that populates with the info your workers input in the system, giving you the next steps tailored to you and your processes.
You can also upgrade to get:
- Production alerts —you can create and organise your production alerts by level and notify all your team members
- Improvement ideas – specific improvement ideas based on the info compiled in our different modules
- Problem-solving —pick and choose among a set of methodologies to solve your specific problems and prevent them from happening again
Here at mlean, we believe that people are any factory’s real competitive advantage, and making sure your workers are safe, motivated, and happy is key to scaling and hitting your targets consistently.
And because we know lean manufacturing is a journey, we’ve developed a software that’s more than that. It’s a tailored tool that adapts to the different stages of your operational excellence journey to help you scale quickly and consistently while unifying your tech stack.
Go ahead, book a demo and see for yourself!