Top 5 Safety Hazards in the Manufacturing Industry


The manufacturing industry applies to many different fields and companies, encompassing everything from glass manufacturing to the plastics industry. Manufacturing businesses may have vastly different operational practices and unique safety risks. There are even specific Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations for manufacturing industries that must be followed.

Despite these differences, manufacturing businesses are plagued by common risks when trying to manage workplace incidents. Here are the top five occupational health and safety hazards that EHS Managers in the manufacturing sector need to look out for.

You may want to hold toolbox talks with your team on how to prepare and avoid these hazards to reduce the risk of injury. Luckily we have a free worksheet to guide you during these toolbox talks!

We've also written a helpful blog article on 10 good tips for keeping you and other people safe at work. Give them a quick review and we hope they help to keep you safe and healthy.

1. Falls
Worker after falling from height - unsafe behavior

Slips, trips, and falls have been the leading cause for injury and death among American workers in the private sector. In 2018 falls were in the top 3 causes of injuries for all industries. As such, falls present a serious risk for all employees, and those working at manufacturing facilities are no exception.

Working at heights may be less common in manufacturing industries. However numerous slip and trip hazards tend to arise from equipment and debris. Employers must take steps to implement comprehensive fall protection measures at their companies.

Safety leaders can help to reinforce fall protection procedures during regular toolbox talks and daily safety tips. Stressing the importance of keeping walkways clear and free of debris or equipment will also help improve safety in the manufacturing industry.

Numerous manufacturers throughout North America rely on Vector EHS Management Software to report and resolve hazards throughout their worksites.

2. Machine guarding

Roll of transformer steel during machining process

Many potential hazards come from the type of equipment required in the manufacturing industry. Proper machine guarding is essential for the many workers who operate heavy machinery every day. Machine guards protect employees from flying chips, sparks, and rotating parts. Should employees become careless when operating the machinery, machine guards act as the last line of defense against harmful machine parts.

Far too often, OSHA finds improperly installed machine guards in manufacturing facilities. This puts employees at risk of crushed hands, amputation, or death should any part of themselves get caught in the machine’s parts.

Reducing the risk of this hazard requires frequent machine inspections. This applies to other heavy machinery, such as the inspection requirements for aerial lifts in place to prevent accidents

Employees should be checking the machine guards before beginning operations. By using a standardized machine guard checklist, employees will be able to prevent accidents before they happen.

3. Powered Industrial Trucks

delivery worker

Injuries and deaths involving powered industrial trucks is another one of the top three manufacturing hazards threatening the industry. As with most heavy machinery, these vehicles pose a great threat to employees when not operated properly.

As such, OSHA has outlined proper training procedures for manufacturing employers whose workers operate forklifts, motorized hand trucks, platform lift trucks, and any other vehicle on the job.

It's important for workers to meet OSHA's standards for these types of vehicles in order to mitigate the dangers of this hazard. Only employees who have completed the proper training and received a certification should operate powered industrial trucks.

This applies to other industries that encounter this hazard as well, such as including it in warehouse safety guidelines.

4. Electrical

burning electrical outlet shorting, danger

The manufacturing industry also has many electrical risks for its workers. Some of these electrical hazards may include improperly installed equipment, exposed wires, unlocked electrical panels, and more.

It’s not uncommon for puddles of water to be on the shop floor, particularly when the weather is bad. If wires are not properly covered, this could easily result in electric shock. OSHA puts emphasis on electrical training to help the manufacturing industry mitigate these risks to employees.

5. Lockout/Tagout

Lockout Tagout. Safety Measures used to secure equipment while under repair, inspection or out of service

According to OSHA, many energy sources in the workplace such as electrical, mechanical, or chemical machines pose a lockout/tagout hazard.

While workers are maintaining these pieces of heavy machinery, the unexpected release of energy or startup of the equipment could cause a serious injury or death. This is why employers must follow proper lockout/tagout procedures to prevent this occurrence.

Exact lockout/tagout policies differ slightly for each organization, but all must be in line with OSHA’s Lockout/Tagout standard. The general idea is certified employees must use lockout devices to properly de-energize equipment before servicing.

Similar to PITs, training plays an important role in ensuring Lockout/Tagout hazards are avoided. Thorough lockout/tagout training is necessary to ensure lockout devices are accurately installed to remove the hazard.

Organizations throughout North America rely on Vector EHS Management software to manage their safety efforts, including the removal of manufacturing hazards. To learn more about how you can track and prevent common hazards in the manufacturing industry with safety management software, contact us today.

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