Health & Safety Essentials for Manufacturing Companies

By Marie | March 8, 2013

Health and Safety SignsThose who work in manufacturing tend to be exposed to risks that are less prevalent than in other areas of employment. Despite the risks, however, the manufacturing environment can be a safe place to work so long as full attention is given to the applicable health and safety regulations. Here we will look at some of the key areas within manufacturing and how workers and managers can help ensure that risks to employees are minimized or eliminated.


How a workshop or engineering space is maintained is fundamental to how safe in which it is to work. Such a space should be kept clean and tidy at all times, with any leaking fluids or swarf dealt with as soon as it becomes apparent. Additionally, any machinery that emits excessive fumes should be properly vented, repaired, or replaced.

Many accidents within the engineering environment can be avoided by taking simple precautions, such as tying long hair back and not wearing baggy or loose-fitting clothes–both have the potential to get jammed in machinery. Jewellery should also not be worn when operating machinery. The use of emery cloths to clean lathes, and the wearing of ill-fitting gloves in such environments, may also pose serious hazards to a worker.

Other notable risks within engineering include the use of pressurized air to clean equipment. The jet of air itself can pose a risk (possible blindness), but it can also send debris into a workers’ eyes or lungs. Extreme care should therefore be exercised with its use. Equipment should only be operated by those who are fully trained to do so and who have been provided with the necessary protective equipment and clothing.

Chemical Manufacturing

Many companies across major industrialized countries manufacture chemicals or use chemicals in the manufacture of other products. Chemicals may pose a significant risk to workers and the general public. The production and use of chemicals is addressed by REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization & restriction of Chemicals) – a European Union regulation. It is one of the strictest laws regarding chemical production and use in the world. Chemical usage is also governed by CHIP – Chemicals (Hazard Information and Packaging for Supply), a law governing the manufacture of dangerous chemicals.

There are numerous issues regarding health and safety in relation to chemical usage. One of biggest risks involves the unintentional combination of two or more different chemicals. Certain combinations can be volatile and toxic to those who come in contact with them. Explosions and leaks can result, often contaminating the immediate environment and endangering workers.

Ensuring a workforce is aware of all the possible dangers and supplying them with suitable protective clothing are both key to the safe use of chemicals.

Food Manufacturing

There are more than 30 different sectors within food manufacturing. The largest is bakery products, followed by meat processing and drink manufacturers. There are a variety of health and safety risks to take into account for those who work in food manufacturing facilities.

Falling from height is a common problem within this industry and is the third most frequent cause of death. Serious injuries such as broken limbs and skulls are also very common. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), there is an average of 80 serious injuries resulting from falls from height each year.

Other risks arise in the use of food processing machinery, from wet floors, from manual handling, and from workplace transportation. Training lies at the heart of good health and safety in these environments, along with the wearing of suitable clothing. Long hair and baggy clothes should once again be avoided, and jewellery should not be worn.

Aside from direct injuries, other illnesses could arise over time, such as from excessive noise (hearing loss), and musculo-skeletal disorders, which might arise from poor lifting technique or over-using certain muscles.

These are some of the key issues related to health and safety within manufacturing. At the heart of all health and safety is ensuring a workforce is aware of any risks and is trained to carry out all tasks with the utmost of care for themselves and their co-workers. All applicable health and safety regulations should be foremost in the minds of those in charge.


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