The Australian Work Health and Safety strategy categorizes manufacturing as a ‘high priority’ industry, and rightly so. Given the amount of complex plant equipment and machinery in manufacturing, safety is a daily concern.
According to Australian Bureau of Statistics findings, 82 out of every 1000 Australians employed in manufacturing will be injured on the job this year. So if a manufacturer employs 100 people, they could face eight serious injury situations in the coming year, injuries that cause untold emotional and financial damage. Can the risk be reduced? Yes, it can.
Making Safety a Mindset
Safe Work Australia recently analyzed the manufacturing industry’s overall enthusiasm for workplace health and safety. Their findings were both encouraging and worrying. Nearly 90% of manufacturers provide health and safety training for their workers.
When measured across other industries, that’s pretty high. But what are the other 10% doing? Of equal concern, one in five manufacturing employers would consider taking risks if deadlines got tight. In other words, they’d compromise their own workers’ safety to fill orders. It seems the overall safety mindset still needs some work.
Dave Robson speaking for Plant Assessor in Newcastle says, 'It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye.'
Routine risk assessment, including the overall health and physical fitness of staff engaged in the use of large manufacturing plant and equipment, should be part of every employer's portfolio.
Are Small Businesses Safer?
Do small manufacturers look after workers better than large producers? That would be the natural assumption – a smaller, closer knit team should translate into a more personal awareness towards staff welfare.
While small manufacturers rate highly when it comes to providing adequate safety gear, they are far less likely to provide safety training and organized safety programs when compared to their larger counterparts.
Why? Because small businesses don’t generally receive the same health and safety support (or scrutiny) as larger businesses, an anomaly Safe Work Australia plans to address.
Education and Training are the Answer
As long as some employers consider certain risks unavoidable, there will be a continuing problem.
'Educating more manufacturers, especially small manufacturers, on the importance of safety and the implications for not complying with safety regulations can reduce workplace injuries,' says Adam McDean, CEO of BusinessBasics.
Once employers are on board, proper training programs and safety procedures more commonplace in large operations can be tailored to suit. Whether large or small, the risks are essentially the same.
With widespread education and training in both safety and risk management, the manufacturing workplace can become a safer workplace.