A cyber crime incident not only presents a public relations dilemma, but also the potential for intellectual property theft which manufacturing businesses should be particularly wary of.
Additionally, if systems containing customers' or suppliers' personal information are compromised, the Information Commissioners' Office (ICO) may impose a fine on your organisation up to €20m or 4% annual global turnover (whichever is higher).
A carefully considered suppression system can get to work on controlling and reducing a fire as soon as it's detected, and it may even extinguish it, allowing firefighters access and saving lives and businesses.
A common falsehood, no doubt helped by misrepresentation in television, is that suppression systems like sprinklers can be easily set off by accident or from just a whiff of burnt toast and that they can cause extensive damage. However, if the system is designed and installed by an appropriate professional, and their advice regarding maintenance, layouts and housekeeping is followed, false activations are unlikely and if a fire is detected only the sprinklers heads in the area will activate.
Besides sprinkler systems, commercial premises should be equipped with suitable fire extinguishers and where a sprinkler might not be appropriate alternative, complementary or supplementary systems should be considered, such as gaseous fire suppression systems for computer rooms.
Equipment, vehicles and installations like cranes, forklift trucks and goods and passenger lifts can be used to avoid manual handling tasks, but injuries, property damage and even fatalities can occur if that equipment isn't suitable for the task or if it's used incorrectly.
Any lifting operation should be carefully risk assessed and only carried out in safe environments, using equipment that is subject to a maintenance and inspection regime and by individuals with appropriate training.
From 2013 to 2018, 13 workers in the UK manufacturing sector were fatally injured due to contact with moving machinery while a further 7,696 non-fatal injuries, including severe cuts, dislocated joints, broken bones and even amputations, were reported1.
Reasons for a worker's intervention can range from the need to carry out cleaning and servicing tasks to removing jammed materials or realigning mechanisms. If these occasions and other problems with machines are planned for with a formal written safe system of work (SSOW) drawn up and appropriate training for employees then this type of preventable accident shouldn’t happen.
First on the list of protective measures should be the provision of guarding for dangerous parts of machines, including those that move, might eject materials, could draw in, trap and/or crush parts of the body, have sharp edges or have the potential to cause burns, scalds or electric shocks.
Handling, lifting or carrying something is the most common kind of accident that results in injuries in the UK's manufacturing sector and accounts for almost a third of workplace injury sickness absences lasting seven or more days1.
If a manual handling task isn't properly assessed, or is carried out in an unsafe manner, the worker can suffer from non-specific musculoskeletal disorders like back pain, strains and sprains and neck pain as well as bruising, cuts and even fractured or broken bones.
In manufacturing environments, workers might be tempted to lift and move things themselves rather than with appropriate equipment for the sake of speed, but they should be dissuaded from doing this. Additionally, on production floors workers might be making repetitive movements that, if unchecked, can cause conditions like tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow.
There is likely to be a lot of noise wherever manufacturing processes are taking place, and this isn't necessarily with respects to volume. A prolonged exposure to a noise, regardless of whether it measures below the Exposure Action Values (EAV) can cause workers to become distracted and irritable and this can lead to hypertension and sleep disturbance, just as tinnitus might.
Health and safety duty holders can keep the levels and amount of noise down in the work environment through a variety of measures, including a 'buy quiet' purchasing policy, installation of products that can reduce noise (e.g. mats on hard floors) and regular maintenance of equipment prone to making disruptive noise, such as roll cages.
A noise assessment should be carried out at least every two years and whenever there are changes in the working environment that make the current one redundant. Based on the results of the assessment, personal protective equipment and health surveillance should be provided to workers identified as
being at risk.
All business owners and managers have duties, set out under the Environmental Protection Act and related regulations, to control the impact that their business activities have on the environment, particularly with regards to materials that might cause harm to people or damage property.
Creating an environmental management system is one step that should be taken to identify, assess and address processes that have the potential to cause environmental damage.
The hazards that can cause fires and explosions during manufacturing processes are too often not properly recognised and dealt with, resulting in serious injuries and sometimes fatalities that should've been avoidable.
There are various reasons why there may be an increased risk of fire and explosion in manufacturing environments, such as the materials involved, including waste and by-products, and the processes they go through, such as heating, grinding or machining. Equipment failure and human intervention are further risks to consider.
If your risk assessments have been completed by a competent person they should have already identified processes, conditions and/or materials that pose a danger and control measures should've been introduced where it wasn't reasonably practicable to eliminate the hazards.
In 2018 slips, trips and falls on same level overtook manual handling as the number one accident kind in the UK manufacturing industry, with 2,925 injuries being reported within a 12 month period over 2017/181.
Risk assessments, employee training and robust housekeeping standards can go a long way to preventing these types of accidents as the causes can often be simply and easily remedied.
In a manufacturing environment a lot of the hazards probably take the form of trailing cables, build-up of waste and spillages.
In the Home Office's 2017 Commercial Victimisation Survey, theft was identified as the top crime type affecting the manufacturing industry with 296 incidents reported per 1,000 premises2.
In previous years, metal has been a prime target for thieves who would sell it on as scrap, but since the introduction of the Scrap Metal Dealers Act the situation has improved significantly. Despite this, factories and other types of manufacturing premises are still proving to be a tempting target due to the range of other valuable materials that might be stored within alongside specialist machinery and tools as well as completed products.
Consequently, it's as vital as ever that sites are protected by a mix of deterrents and physical security measures so that essential business assets are kept out of the reach of criminals.
Vibration is an often neglected workplace hazard. For some workers this can be exposure to whole-body vibration (WBV), for example, from the use of mobile machines or work vehicles, while for others it may be hand-arm from the use of hand-held power tools. Both types can cause employees health problems.
Early symptoms of vibration-related illnesses can include tingling and numbness of fingers, not being able to feel things properly, loss of strength in the hands, and fingers going white (blanching) and becoming red and painful on recovery (particularly in the cold and wet).
These symptoms may cause further issues such as sleep deprivation, reduced grip and an inability to do fine work, affecting the individual in their personal life as well as at work.
There are a number of reasons why waste management is important, especially for business efficiency, corporate responsibility, to reduce the risk of fire, accidents and pollution and to comply with legal obligations.
Manufacturing businesses can have a vast range of waste that needs to be dealt with appropriately, including packaging, by-products, damaged stock, worn-out parts and tools and often hazardous substances.
On average, 25 UK workers are killed after being hit by a moving vehicle while at work each year, and since 2013 there has been 11 such fatalities in the manufacturing sector1. Often, these incidents happen because little has been done to keep pedestrians and moving vehicles apart. Loading docks, yards, and storage areas with fork lift trucks can be especially hazardous.
Additional risk can exist where vehicles are moving around storage racking, raising the potential for the structures to collapse and trap people.