Increasing Worker Safety Through Automation
A primary target outcome when working with automation customers is reducing human struggle. How can we improve on their manufacturing process to make things easier for their workforce?
One key area where automation and process improvement can make a positive difference to the workforce is safety. Every company strives to achieve zero on-the-job accidents. And while most will never achieve that goal, we’ve seen where incorporating automation elements in production cells with a higher potential for injury can go a long way in increasing worker safety and reducing accidents.
Creating Safer Work Environments
- Consider automating any process that includes repetitive motion, heavy-lifting, or creates a dangerous interaction between worker and machine in your production process.
- Take training seriously! When employees know how to use a piece of machinery, and what to do in an emergency situation, you are less likely to experience accidents.
- Implement employee led safety committees and protocols. Proactively identifying safety concerns and creating a plan of action in case of emergency is critical to minimizing on-the-job injuries. Take the time to regularly review the process and update it as needed. Everyone is safer when they know what to do in an emergency situation.
- Management must commit to making employee safety priority #1.
Benefits of Safer Work Environments
- Happy and Engaged Employees – While automation is taking care of the physical work, your employees have more time to focus on projects that require higher-end thinking. Removing workers from a dangerous environment also shows that you view them as an important asset whose well-being is an important matter.
- Reduced Worker Injury and Illness – On average, businesses spend about $170 billion a year on injury and illness(1), or on average $38K per on-the-job injury(2). These costs reflect lost time, medical costs and loss of productivity, to name a few. Imagine the impact on a small business with several job injuries per year. Studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration show that companies can reduce these costs by 20%-40% by simply improving safety procedures.
- Improved Production Efficiencies and Quality Products – Automation typically works at a faster pace, provides consistent quality, and minimizes waste. Although the initial investment may seem daunting, automated cells typically start to show a return on investment within the first year, after calculating in how many shifts you are running, labor costs and total system costs.
With unemployment hovering around 2.7-2.8% in West Michigan, companies are struggling with hiring and retaining workers. As a business owner, key programs such as employee safety are a great way to differentiate yourself and make your company a workplace of choice.
Contact us today to discuss your process and generate ideas around creating a safer work environment for your employees.
(1) U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration
(2) National Safety Committee