Shop Floor Management - Safety

Working safety may get old and so do those who practice it.
─ Unknown
There are numerous tools, equipment and heavy duty machines on the shop floor. The shop floor staff encounter these daily, exposing themselves to the threat of accidents.
There is another saying, “A wrong tool in the right hands is far better than the opposite.” Apart from the unforgiving machinery, equipment and tools, it is sometimes the carelessness or bad intentions of a human who handles them.
Let us understand in detail regarding shop floor machinery, tools and safety.

Dangerous Machinery on the Shop Floor

A shop floor keeps several sharp tools for cutting, pressing, filing, fixing, etc. It keeps electric equipment for various assembly types such as welding or soldering. A shop floor also has machines with running belts and wheels, revolving shafts, couplings, spindles, lifting and moving machines along with their attached moving parts. These machines can pose a threat of hurting their operators if proper care is not taken while working with them.
To keep oneself safe from the threat of getting hurt, the workers need to possess thorough knowledge of operating the machine.

Typical Safety Guards for Shop Floor Machines

There are a range of safeguards used for shop floor machines, some of the most important ones are listed below −
  • Fixed guard − It is a mechanical guard, which is fixed on the machine. It prevents access to the dangerous parts of the machine. It is a reliable guard with minimal maintenance.
  • Interlocking guard − It can be a mechanical, electrical, pneumatic or the combination of all. It is designed in such a way that the machine cannot start if the guard is open. It is very useful where feeding of raw material and withdrawing of products is required on regular occasions.
  • Automatic guard − It is used on machines which need manual feeding of materials such as drop hammers. The automatic guard moves at a faster rate than the point of operation. It is suitable for those machines working with rhythmic actions with the gap of a couple of seconds in its recurring operation. It is not good for high speed operating machines.
  • Trip guard − It consists of a grid or frame connected to a mechanism, which can stop the machine by applying a brake. Trip guard can also come in the form of photoelectric curtain between the dangerous part of machine and the operator.

Safeguards for Shop Floor Workers

There are a number of safeguards used by the shop floor workers and other staff. Some of the most commonly used protection ware that is required to be used on the shop floor are given below −
  • Safety Helmets − It comes with a plain or with a transparent face shield. The face shield under every circumstance guards the face while welding, cutting or performing similar operations where tiny pieces of material are expected to chip off. They also come with a detachable head lamp that helps the worker to see if there are any dark spots.
  • Safety Shoes − They come with closed toes and a thick sole, which make the grip of the feet firm on any surface. They protect the feet from potential injuries on the shop floor.
  • Gloves − The gloves protect the palms and hands while a worker is assembling the metal parts by welding or cutting metal using the revolving saw. They also protect the workers’ hands from harmful substances and chemical or any thermal burns.
  • Industrial Jacket or Coat − The industrial jackets or coats are thick and bright-colored. They are made of canvas, rubber or some other material that resists fire and chemicals. They are available in various lengths.
  • Hearing Protection − It comes in a form of ear plugs to as sophisticated as a pair of caps with a headband. It is the most important protective ware that saves the workers’ vital sense of hearing.
  • Protective Goggles − It comes with adjustable frames and anti-fog glasses of various colors. It is made of scratch resistant material such as polycarbonate for increased durability. It saves another vital organ, the eyes from burning or getting hurt in any way. It also protects from vision impairment due to continual exposure to bright light.
  • Dust Mask − It is made of cotton. It protects the worker’s respiratory system from airborne particles created at the time of grinding and drilling.
  • Emergency Stop Control − It is a control mechanism to halt the operating machine completely. This stop control overrides all other controls to stop the machine. It also needs a separate mechanism that can start the machine again.

Shop Floor Housekeeping for Safety

Housekeeping is crucial for safe shop floor workplace. It can prevent accidents, improve productivity and morale, as well as create a good first impression on customers. The shop floor housekeeping staff should −
  • Report and clean up spills and leaks.
  • Install mirrors and appropriate warning signs at critical spots.
  • Maintain flooring in good condition, preferably anti-slip.
  • Store inflammable material away from ignition sources.
  • Keep aisles and fire exits from obstructions.

General Safety Rules on the Shop Floor

Following are some general rules the shop floor staff and visitors should follow for their safety −
  • Wearing protection wares such as helmets, goggles and shoes irrespective of working or not.
  • Wearing no sandals or slippers, only closed-toe shoes.
  • Cleaning, repairing or oiling of machines must be done when they are shut down.
  • Cleaning chips and metal particles scattered from machines only with brush, never with fingers.
  • Practicing cleanliness and orderliness.
  • Wearing appropriate clothing on the job.
  • Checking the machine condition before starting it.
  • Not operating any equipment unless having an absolute idea and authority of operation.
  • Not trying to remove foreign objects from eye or other body part.
  • Not wearing ties, loose clothes, long hair or dangling jewelry around moving or rotating machinery.
  • Not working when tired, in hurry, or unhealthy.
  • Not operating any machines without guards and shields.
  • Not eating/drinking/smoking while working.
  • Not engaging into horseplay.
In the next chapter, we will discuss in detail regarding the IT and Automation aspect of Shop Floor Management.


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