Here are five areas that demand serious, ongoing attention by plant managers. Those who handle them correctly are more inclined to operate an efficient plant, offer a safe work environment, and reduce worker exposure to a variety of injuries.
How are materials staged? How are pallets stacked? What happens when machine oil or grease drips on to the floor?
There is no excuse for poor housekeeping or even a cluttered plant floor. It typically creates chaos and can impact production issues and overall business operations. Not to mention worker injury due to trip hazards.
- Sort: Identify what equipment, tools or supplies are needed to perform daily tasks. Keep only the essential items in each workspace or station. The goal is to remove everything that’s not frequently used.
- Set: Every product or part needs a designated home or space. Consider using signage or even writing words on the plant floor, such as pallet jacks or trash, that identify areas for each item.
- Shine: Every employee needs to be responsible for returning items to their proper area and maintaining a clean and neat workspace.
- Standardize: To enforce accountability, create standards or company policies that promote the 5S Lean concept and describe employee responsibilities.
- Sustain: Management and supervisors must observe the same policies, demonstrating self-discipline, so these practices are continued over the long haul.
- Flammable Liquids
Some common chemicals with low flash points, such as toluene or methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), are stored in containers without lids or in intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) that are composed of plastic and encased by a metal skeleton. Understand how such containers can be breached. It doesn’t take much to burn plastic, which can then lead to an out-of-control fire.
Try limiting the IBCs to two per workstation. If you can’t use nonflammable liquids to perform the same job, create policies and specific handling and storage procedures for employees. Ensure the containers are also properly grounded. Likewise, bonding, the process that dissipates the charge, is
also critical. All it takes is the right mixture of air – especially dry air during the winter months – vapor from the chemicals and an ignition source like sparks from a cutting torch to cause an explosion or fire.
- Sprinkler System
Is your system adequately designed for the type of work you perform? Can it extinguish fires caused by the various chemicals you use?
Many manufacturers don’t test or even inspect their system. Worse yet, water valves can be accidentally shut off for months without anyone realizing it. Develop a written inspection and maintenance program. Test the system monthly.
- High Rack Storage
If your warehouse stores pallets stacked over 12 feet high, you’re increasing the fire load or fire capacity at your facility. The idea is to minimize your storage area by housing only what’s needed to perform business operations. Explore ways to reduce the fire load. For example, avoid storing any products or as many products for customers in your warehouse. By doing so, you can possibly save floor space, which is often considered valuable real estate.
By implementing these five practices, manufacturers will be able to boost employee productivity and product quality. They will also reduce employee injuries and exposure for fires and other catastrophes that can shut your plant down - permanently.
This post was written by Brian Roberts, director of workers’ compensation and ergonomics at CNA. To learn more about safety considerations in facility management, contact Mr. Roberts at email@example.com. To learn more about concepts of LEAN, such as 5S as mentioned above, contact the LEAN Accountants of McKonly and Asbury, LLP.