Manufacturing Safety and Compliance

Manufacturing Safety and Compliance

A single error in manufacturing safety hazards can cost your company $13,653 in terms of Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OHSA) fines. This five-figure fine is just for one violation in the workplace health and safety laws.


The penalties and damage to your bottom line don’t just end there. Once OSHA has unearthed a problem, they will assign a deadline to have it fixed. When issues aren’t fixed by the deadline, companies could face the same penalty every day it goes unaddressed. If that company fixes the problem, but then it happens again, OSHA could determine that the company committed a willful or repeated violation, causing the company to have a fine 10 times as much as the original fine: $136,532.


Yikes. OSHA is clearly stating that manufacturing safety and compliance rules are important—and they certainly are important. They are making sure that any avoidance in these regulations hurt in more ways than one. 


Although OSHA is a major regulator in the manufacturing industry, we also can’t forget other federal regulators, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), or other state agencies or plans.


Manufacturing companies that don’t comply with the correct safety regulations or manage their risk in the appropriate ways can anticipate paying hundreds of thousands in indirect expenses. For example, these expenses could look like:


 - Lost productivity during and after an incident 
 - Lower workforce morale due to uncertainty and fear around risk areas
 - Workers’ compensation claims from individuals who experience injuries and illnesses 
 - Expenses that come with cleaning or replacing equipment and machinery that is broken or damaged
 - The hours of labor that are spent finding and fixing the issue
 - Legal and compliance fees 

So it goes without saying that health and safety in the manufacturing industry is critically important. Making sure your company has the correct safety measures in place and appropriate training for employees is vital to keeping your manufacturing business in compliance and keeping your employees safe. 


In this article, we’ll answer the questions surrounding manufacturing safety and compliance, such as “What is safety compliance,” “What are the 5 elements of safety,” and “What are the OSHA requirements for employers?” We will also cover some safety compliance examples.

What is Safety in the Manufacturing Industry?

Workplace safety is critical for the manufacturing industry. It ensures people are doing their jobs correctly, with zero to very little chance of getting hurt, sick, or killed. It includes every member of the company and encompasses numerous processes, technologies, and sometimes software that requires constant vigilance and training. Manufacturing safety and compliance can be difficult work, but it is always easier, cheaper, and more ethical to keep people safe rather than to manage the aftermath of a horrible accident. 

Workplace safety is often referred to by other names, such as: environment, health, and safety (EHS); occupational health and safety; safety and compliance; and other similar terms. Many companies manage their safety regulations and concerns through safety programs. These safety programs control how people work and how the organization minimizes risks. 

Although safety is particularly important in all industries, it is vital in the manufacturing industry. In this industry, workers regularly and constantly interact with potentially dangerous machines, materials, and substances. A standard manufacturing safety program may address issues such as: 

 - Guidelines and operating procedures for saws, lathes, drills, presses, cutting tools, and welding equipment
 - The types of respirators, goggles, gloves, boots, and other personal protective equipment (PPE) workers are required to use on the job
 - How to properly inspect, wear, and maintain personal protective equipment
 - Information on hazardous chemicals are created and present in the workplace, along with instructions on how to use and store those chemicals 
 - Cleaning and sanitation procedures in the workplace 
 - What to do in the event an employee has an accident or is exposed to a toxic substance
 - Training in health and safety


This program should always be documented and kept up-to-date. 

Why is Safety Compliance Important?

Safety in manufacturing plants is important because it protects employees and keeps them safe and unharmed. To prevent industrial accidents, illnesses, injuries, or deaths, manufacturers are required to create a safe and healthy workplace for all employees. 

Most individuals involved in manufacturing understand the risks associated with working in the industry; they recognize and understand their responsibilities to keep themselves and others protected from harm. However, there can be problems in some manufacturing environments. Oftentimes, other priorities get in the way. 

Many companies are under constant pressure to stay competitive, keep costs down, increase productivity, deal with supply chain disruptions, hire and retain skilled workers, adapt to new technologies and softwares, and manage the realities of running a business. As a result of this, safety can sometimes be placed on the back burner or considered a drain on company time and resources. It becomes a series of boxes to check rather than something that actually benefits the company and the employees.

However, despite the many things that can get in the way, creating a plan for health and safety in the manufacturing industry is vital. This very detailed and comprehensive process towards manufacturing safety and compliance is important for several reasons:

It is required by law. It is the responsibility of the employer to provide these instructions and guidelines to employees. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other federal and state programs and regulatory agencies mandate that every employer keep their workers safe. They will always expect to see a safety program in place. 


Having a safety program is the most effective way to keep people safe and manage risks. The best safety programs ensure that companies minimize risks as constantly, completely, and proactively as possible. Absolutely nothing that threatens or endangers your employees should be a matter of chance or uncertainty. 


Safety accidents and incidents carry substantial expenses and liability. More often, it’s cheaper to invest in a quality safety program than deal with the expense and aftermath of a horrible accident. Some expenses that accidents come with are:  


 - Workers’ compensation
 - Penalties 
 - Legal fees
 - Cost of fixing or replacing broken or damaged equipment
 - Decreased morale and productivity

What are the 4 OSHA Standards?

Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards are the rules that describe the methods and regulations that employers must use to protect workers from potential hazards. OSHA has four standards: general industry, construction, agricultural, and maritime. 

These four standards apply to most worksites. Within these standards, there are limits on the amount of hazardous chemicals workers can be exposed to, requirements on the housing of certain safety equipment and practices, and requirements on employers to monitor hazards and keep all records of injuries and illnesses within the workplace. 

Here are a few examples of OSHA requirements for employers:


 - Providing fall protection
 - Preventing trenching cave-ins
 - Ensuring workers safely enter confined spaces
 - Preventing infectious diseases
 - Preventing exposure to harmful substances or chemicals (such as asbestos)
 - Putting guards on machines
 - Providing training for certain dangerous jobs
 - Supplying respirators and other safety equipment. 


Employers must also be aware of and comply with the General Duty Clause of the OSHA Act. This clause requires employers to comply and keep their workplaces free of seriously recognized hazards. This clause is generally cited when no OSHA standard is applied to the hazard.

What are the Most Important Safety Aspects in a Manufacturing Industry?

In 2020, there were 10 OSHA standards that were frequently violated in the manufacturing industry. Here are the five of those violated standards. Click here for the full list of top violated OSHA guidelines.


Machine Guarding
Machine guarding is a critical safety feature around manufacturing equipment that involves a shield or device covering hazardous parts of the machines. This machine guard works to prevent injury to the employee, others standing nearby, or the machine itself. Within the manufacturing industry, all machines, such as overhead cranes, have to be inspected for proper machine guarding and shielding to prevent injury or harm to employees. 


You may be at risk of a machine guarding violation if your company:
 - Has one or more decades-old machines still in operation
 - Has not inspected your machines within the last six months to a year
 - Is relying on user-buit safeguards
 - Has employees who are working close to hazardous machines
 - Has employees who aren’t well-trained—or you can’t prove that they are trained
 - Has employees who are stressed and/or overworked

Many machines can kill or seriously injure employees. These machines are dangerous because they can expose employees to hazardous energy in the form of electricity, steam, chemicals, or other kinds of power. 


Oftentimes, hazardous energy can be released regardless of whether the machine is in use or not. This is a critical reason that machines need to be completely shut off before service or maintenance is performed. 


OSHA’s Control of Hazardous Energy standard, often referred to as the “Lockout/Tagout” standard, outlines how workers should safely depower dangerous machines. One of the main steps to this procedure is to literally lock the machine in the off position and add a tag with the name of the person who carries the key to the lock. 


If not done correctly, these machines could cause extreme danger. For example, a capacitor that hasn’t been properly turned off and disconnected could electrocute a worker trying to repair it. Or a steam valve that hasn’t been properly bled out could scald a worker.


You may be at risk of a Lockout/Tagout violation if your company:
 - Is lacking detailed, written procedures for one or more machines
 - Hasn’t identified every source of hazardous energy in your workplace
 - Is using the wrong lockout/tagout devices
 - Is not following all lockout/tagout steps in the correct order
 - Has machinery that is old or high-maintenance
 - Has workers that haven't been trained properly or consistently
 - Can’t remember their last lockout/tagout audit


Hazard Communication Standards (HCS)

The hazard communication standards are the way companies are supposed to inform their workers about dangerous chemicals in the workplace. The HCS is a set of rules that cover labeling and tracking chemicals, as well as training on the chemicals for workers. 


There are many substances that fall under the HCS; these include:

 - Acids
 - Asbestos
 - Disinfectants
 - Glues
 - Lead, mercury, and other heavy metals
 - Paints
 - Pesticides
 - Petroleum products
 - Solvents


There are many more chemicals as well that are not featured in this list. Most chemicals used in the workplace will have some potential of being hazardous. Here is a full index of chemicals that OSHA oversees. 

According to the HCS regulations, the following rules need to be in place anywhere workers are working with or could be exposed to hazardous substances: 

 - Every chemical on the manufacturing plant needs to have material safety data sheets
 - There needs to be a written hazard communication plan posted
 - All workers who may be exposed to hazardous chemicals should have comprehensive training on hazardous communications. 

You may be at risk of a hazardous communications violation if your company:
 - Does not have all hazardous chemicals labeled clearly and correctly
 - Doesn’t have an adequate written hazard communication plan
 - Relies on incomplete, inaccurate, or out-of-date safety data sheets or database

Respiratory Protection
When working with machines, the air isn’t always safe to breathe. The oxygen in many manufacturing plants can contain hazardous fumes, dust, and contaminants. Airborne contaminants such as particulate matter, smoke, gases, mists, vapors, and aerosols can be harmful to workers that don’t have the correct respiratory protection. These unsafe airborne contaminants can cause short- and long-term health problems. 


OSHA’s respiratory protection standard states how manufacturing companies need to minimize their employees' exposure to hazardous air. The regulations require companies to assess and minimize exposure to airborne hazards if possible. However, if a company can’t control the environment or if it doesn't provide the correct protection, employers must provide their workers with respiratory protection devices, known as respirators. All workers must know how to use the respirators in various settings. They should also be educated on the maintenance, inspection, and any medical follow-up procedures.


You may be at risk of a respiratory protection violation if your company:
 - Doesn’t have a respiratory protection program in place
 - Has employees who aren’t using the right respirators for the correct jobs
 - Is not performing required fit testing
 - Does not provide medical evaluations, free to employees
 - Is not providing respirators at no cost to employees
 - Has employees who are not properly trained in respirator use
 - Has employees exposed to contaminated air are working long hours


Electrical Wiring Methods
Electrical wiring is one of the most common sources of electrical hazards. Workers can risk electrocution at any point they are working around or with machines that generate or conduct electricity. Wires that are potent sources of electricity can be practically anywhere are very fragile. Electrical wires can cover wide areas; they may be misconfigured and become damaged easily, making risks difficult to manage. 


Here are a few examples of electrical hazards:

 - Tangled or overloaded wires
 - Loose electrical connections
 - Torn, frayed, or exposed wires
 - Underground electrical equipment
 - Substandard insulation
 - Improper use of extension cords
 - Broken ground connections 

You may be at risk of an electrical wiring violation if your company:
 - Is using the wrong wire
 - Has wires that are misplaced and/or unsecured
 - Has electrical equipment that isn’t sufficiently guarded
 - Has equipment that isn’t grounded or insulated
 - Hasn’t inspected your electrical systems within the past six months to a year
 - Has workers who aren’t sufficiently trained on electrical wiring safety

What are the OSHA Guidelines for Workplaces Regarding COVID19?

When COVID-19 took the world by storm in 2020, all industries had to adjust to a new normal, including the manufacturing industry. Manufacturing companies need to take the right steps to create and maintain safe workplaces. OSHA has developed compliance and regulation requirements to help reduce the spread of the virus that has been put into effect.


In April 2020, OSHA published “Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19” to assist organizations in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and meet key safety criteria in many areas. Since April 2020, they have created a webpage with the most up-to-date guidance and information that manufacturers can consult, “Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace.” This is the most up-to-date and relevant information you can find on manufacturing safety regarding COVID-19: 

 - Sanitation
 - Eye and face protection
 - Respiratory protection
 - Recording and reporting occupational injuries and illnesses 
 - Personal Protective Equipment
 - Guidelines for accident prevention signs and tags 
 - Access to employee exposure and medical records


A complete list of OSHA standards related to their COVID-19 guidance can be found here.

Proactive Steps to Take in Improving Employee Manufacturing Safety

When employers are on the lookout to mitigate hazards and risks in the workplace, they must prepare and address a wide array of safety issues. To keep employees safe, there are four ways to implement and improve manufacturing safety measures:

 - Use appropriate and high-quality employee training programs
 - Ensure appropriate use of personal protective equipment
 - Create an overall safe work environment


Let’s dive into each of these proactive steps a little further. 


Employee Training 
The first step manufacturers must take toward employee safety is to ensure all new and existing employees are comprehensively trained on their job responsibilities and all required safety techniques and regulations. They should be able to identify what PPE to wear along with the appropriate way to wear it, how to maintain or service heavy machinery, appropriate lock/out tagout procedures, and any other need-to-know workplace safety information. 

Personal Protective Equipment 
Personal protective equipment includes clothing, glasses, head protection, and footwear that workers use to protect themselves from hazards in the manufacturing environment. All employers need to assess the appropriate PPE that is required for each worker and their specific job requirements. These employers should purchase the appropriate PPE and confirm that the equipment is fitted appropriately for the employee. All PPE needs to be maintained, assessed, and updated on a regular basis, which the employer is also responsible for. 

Safe Work Environment
When creating a safe workplace environment, employees should feel they have the ability to work safely, without any risks to their physical or mental health and welfare. With all the necessary key factors in place, such as employee training, PPE, and machine guarding, an employer should have an established safe working environment in their manufacturing company. Many other factories, such as housekeeping, manager training, and employee involvement, also contribute to a safe working environment. 

What Are OSHA Safety Labels Standards?

29 CFR 1910.145 is OSHA’s guideline for signs. These guidelines identify hazards, outline design requirements, and specify when safety signs must be used. These guidelines are further expanded upon in the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z535 standard, which uses symbols and pictograms to communicate hazards to workers in potentially hazardous environments. 

The ANSI Z535 standard gives guidelines for every aspect of sign design, including:

 - Standard sign and label colors
 - Signal words (such as “Danger” and “Warning”)
 - Letter style and size
 - Sign and label placement


ANSI safety labels and signs are used to ensure workplace safety, stay in compliance, and reduce liability. There are five ANSI label categories, each with its own signal word and meaning:


This sign indicates a hazardous situation, which if not avoided, could result in minor or moderate injury. Check out DuraMark's selection of ANSI compliant caution labels.


This sign indicates a potentially hazardous situation that could result in death or serious injury. Hazards associated by the signal word warning present a lesser degree of risk of injury or death than the Danger sign category. See DuraMark's ANSI compliant warning label offering.


This sign is designated for imminently hazardous situations that, if not avoided, will result in death or serious injury. Use safety labels with the word “danger” sparingly and only for those situations presenting the most serious threats. DuraMark offers a wide range of ANSI compliant danger labels, including custom danger labels.


This sign is the preferred signal word to address practices or instructions not related to personal injury. Buy ANSI compliant notice labels from DuraMark.


This sign is mostly used for general instructions related to safe work practices. It should be posted to act as reminders of proper safety procedures, or the location of safety equipment. DuraMark has any ANSI compliant important label you need, see them all here.

Safety Matters, Choose DuraMark for Your ANSI Safety Labels

As a responsive, innovative, and one-stop resource for safety labels, DuraMark Technologies partners with manufacturing companies to develop efficient and effective programs that help ensure compliance and durability.


By purchasing our ANSI safety labels, you’ll be guaranteed labels that are made in the USA with the highest quality and longest lasting industrial materials at the best price. Our durable industrial polyester labels last three times longer than our competitor’s vinyl—with exceptional clarity and permanent adhesion. 

DuraMark’s safety labels are also made with unique proprietary materials that are UV resistant, can withstand extreme temperatures between -40 to 302 degrees Fahrenheit, and have been tested to stay clear and readable in the most adverse conditions. Ready to get started? Explore our collection of customizable ANSI signs.