Manufacturing Safety Training: A Simple Guide

Safety training is vital to the continuity, productivity, and cost-effectiveness of your manufacturing operation. The National Safety Council reports that workplace accidents, injuries, and fatalities cost U.S. businesses more than $167 billion in 2022 alone. This staggering expense is underlined by a massive loss of productivity. The NSC reports a total of more than 108 million days worth of downtime due to accidents or injuries in 2022.

Of course, it’s impossible to put a price tag on employee safety. However, these figures provide a quantitative picture of the value of effective and comprehensive manufacturing safety training programs

Manufacturing safety programs provide the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), emergency protocols, and regulatory guidelines needed to prevent accidents and injuries while minimizing the costs and downtime these events can lead to. 

Why is safety training important in manufacturing? 

Safety is an essential part of an effective and productive working environment. Manufacturing facilities often rely on heavy machinery, specialized equipment, and potentially hazardous materials for operational continuity. Efficiency, productivity, and customer satisfaction depend on the safe deployment of these physical assets.

Comprehensive training is required to achieve this level of safety. Below, we take a closer look at some of the important roles that safety training plays in the manufacturing industry:

  • Preventing accidents and injuries by instructing team members in the safe and proper use of heavy machinery, power tools, hazardous materials, hazardous waste, and complex systems
  • Assuring regulatory compliance by instructing team members in safety protocols, legal conditions, OSHA standards, and manufacturer user recommendations
  • Enhancing emergency preparedness by instructing team members on how to respond to different types of emergencies, such as fires, chemical spills, or equipment failures 
  • Promoting a safe workplace culture by fostering a mindset that prioritizes safety over speed or convenience across all work areas
  • Reducing human error by helping workers develop the skills and knowledge to perform tasks safely and document their work accurately

Manufacturing safety training programs: topics to cover 

Your manufacturing safety training program will be tailored to the scale, scope, and resource availability specific to your organization. However, most thorough manufacturing safety programs will include training courses on the following safety topics:

  • Proper usage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as gloves, goggles, and respirators
  • Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) procedures, including steps for safely shutting down and securing machinery during maintenance and repairs, assignment of roles and responsibilities in LOTO procedures, and proper inspection of lockout/tagout devices
  • Machine guarding, including regular inspection to ensure guards are in place and functioning correctly as well as routine maintenance of guarding equipment
  • Fire safety protocols like fire drills, fire prevention procedures, training in the use of fire extinguishers and other fire suppression methods, and review of evacuation routes
  • Hazardous materials handling, including proper storage, labeling, and disposal of hazardous materials, as well as procedures for managing incidents such as spills and exposure
  • Basic first aid training, including the treatment of minor injuries, CPR techniques, and procedures for handling potential exposure to hazardous materials

Specialized safety courses

In addition to these common safety training topics, many manufacturing subfields carry additional specialized safety training requirements. For instance: 

  • Chemical manufacturing requires heightened Process Safety Management (PSM) for managing and mitigating risks associated with both hazardous materials and chemical reactions.
  • Food manufacturing requires enhanced safety and hygiene procedures to prevent contamination as well as allergen-related cross-contamination. 
  • Pharmaceutical manufacturing requires adherence to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), which ensure that biological materials are handled properly and risks are mitigated in the production process

Who requires manufacturing safety training

Safety training is essential for personnel across the manufacturing sector. Below, we take a closer look at some of the roles in which safety training is vital: 

  • Machine operators must typically be trained in machine guarding, lockout/tagout (LOTO), PPE usage, emergency procedures, and more.
  • Maintenance technicians require training in protocols for equipment troubleshooting, routine maintenance, Lockout/tagout (LOTO), electrical safety, confined space entry, and the safe use of tools.
  • Warehouse workers must be trained in the safe storage, movement, and distribution of materials and products, as well as procedures for specific functions such as forklift safety and slip/trip/fall protection and prevention.
  • Quality control inspectors require comprehensive training in the inspection of products and processes, ensuring they meet quality standards, PPE usage, chemical safety, and ergonomic practices.
  • Chemical handlers require specialized training in the use, storage, and disposal of chemicals in the manufacturing process including hazard communication (HazCom), chemical safety, spill response, and PPE usage.

The role of maintenance in manufacturing safety

Well-equipped maintenance teams are vital to promoting and maintaining safety in manufacturing facilities. In addition to performing routine repairs and providing equipment upkeep, maintenance personnel are responsible for ensuring all equipment is operating safely. This means your maintenance team will play a central role in carrying out your manufacturing safety program.

Below, we take a closer look at the contributions that maintenance personnel will typically make to manufacturing safety as well as some of the key safety training programs maintenance teams should undergo to meet these responsibilities. 

Maintenance team contributions to manufacturing safety

  • Preventive maintenance actions such as routine inspections and regularly scheduled parts replacements can minimize the risk of equipment failure and consequent accidents and injuries.
  • Corrective maintenance actions such as timely repair of equipment malfunctions can prevent minor issues from escalating into major safety hazards.
  • Predictive maintenance techniques such as real-time condition monitoring tools can help predict equipment failure and inform preemptive maintenance actions.
  • Safety inspections and audits can help your maintenance team identify and rectify potential safety hazards before they can impact workers or working conditions.
  • Equipment upgrades and modifications can improve equipment safety, maximize process efficiency, and reduce the risk of accidents and injuries due to malfunction.

Essential safety training programs for maintenance professionals

To perform effectively in the roles highlighted above, maintenance professionals should participate in the following safety training programs:

  • Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) procedures for safely shutting down and securing machinery before performing maintenance work
  • Electrical safety including proper grounding, use of insulated tools, and recognition of electrical hazards
  • Confined space entry including procedures for entering and working in confined spaces such as atmospheric testing, proper ventilation, and emergency rescue plans
  • Machine guarding, including identifying and using appropriate guards on machinery to protect against moving parts and prevent injuries commonly caused by contact with moving machinery
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) training in areas such as proper selection, use, cleaning, and maintenance of gloves, goggles, and other protective attire
  • Emergency response procedures for various conditions including fire safety, chemical spills, and the administration of first aid

Launching a manufacturing safety training program 

An effective manufacturing safety program requires careful planning, effective execution, and continuous improvement. Below, we provide a step-by-step guide to implementing, managing, and enhancing your manufacturing safety training program.

  1. Plan your training program by conducting a safety audit to identify potential hazards and compliance gaps, engage with different departments to understand their specific training needs, and analyze past incidents to pinpoint areas requiring targeted training.
  2. Define the objectives your training program will achieve (i.e. reducing workplace injuries, improving compliance, enhancing emergency preparedness, etc.), and establish measurable outcomes.
  3. Develop a curriculum, using findings from your safety audit to prioritize relevant topics such as Lockout/Tagout, PPE usage, emergency response protocols, preemptive maintenance tasks, and more.
  4. Develop training materials, using industry-standard resources (from outlets such as OSHA, NASP, and NSC) to produce a comprehensive set of training manuals, instructional videos, and online learning modules.
  5. Select qualified trainers, delegating instructional roles to experienced personnel such as maintenance supervisors and safety officers, and provide instructors with the education and support needed to conduct effective training. 
  6. Build a training schedule and coordinate closely with department leaders to reduce operational disruption.
  7. Track performance, conducting assessments and practical exercises to verify that participants understand the material and can implement their learning in real-world settings.
  8. Evaluate your program by gathering feedback from participants on the training sessions, analyzing workplace incident data, and identifying areas for improvement.

Manufacturing safety training resources

Effective safety training should be informed by up-to-date regulatory standards and current compliance requirements. Below, we take a closer look at some of the resources you can refer to as you develop your manufacturing safety training program:

Need help achieving and maintaining OSHA compliance, 21 CFR compliance, and meeting other critical regulatory thresholds? Find out how Limble CMMS can streamline the compliance process and help you create a safer, more productive workplace.

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