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How to Address Safety Hazards Caused by the Automation of the Workplace

How to Address Safety Hazards Caused by the Automation of the Workplace

Automation has proven to be a benefit to employee safety in most situations. However, there are cases where automation can lead to accidents and injuries. Even one accident is too many, so here’s how to address safety hazards caused by the automation of the workplace.

Stop Being Lured into a False Sense of Security

Automation can lead to complacency when it comes to safety in the workplace. People believe that modern technology replaces the need for oversight, and so far, that isn’t true. Regardless of what level of automation a company has, it still needs:

  • A safety inspector to perform regular checks of the building. Some states don’t require certification, but it is preferable.
  • A contractor who can ensure the daily tasks are being carried out correctly. A contractor must get a contractor’s license to comply with state requirements.
  • A maintenance worker with the ability to shut down and repair all machinery if a problem occurs.
  • A regularly tested emergency alert system for fires and other occurrences. This system should have the option of being triggered by a person in the event of a technical failure.

Technology can be a great help in the workplace, but it shouldn’t be solely relied on to prevent accidents.

Proactively Prevent Common Robotics Injuries

Certain types of injuries are common in workplaces that use robotics. The main injuries you should focus on preventing as part of workplace safety are:

  • Impact and collision injuries. This is where a piece of machinery strikes an employee, causing them to be injured. You can prevent them by placing proper warning signs in areas where machinery is moving.
  • Crushing or trapping injuries. This is where machinery falls onto an employee, causing them to be crushed or trapped. This can be prevented by properly securing and operating machines.
  • Mechanical part accidents. This is where a machine malfunctions and causes someone to be injured. This can be prevented by performing regular maintenance on machines.

These are the most common injuries but they’re not the only ones. Evaluate your workplace and identify your high-risk areas and how they can be improved.

Educate Your Employees on Human Errors

Many automation accidents are caused by people, not machines. The top human errors that should be addressed are:

  • Complacency. When workers become too comfortable around the machines, they start taking unnecessary risks. Remind employees that when a risk is repeated often enough, it becomes an accident.
  • Workers entering areas they aren’t authorized to be in and being injured by machinery they come in contact with. Make sure all “authorized-only” areas are marked with signs.
  • Workers attempting to repair a machine they aren’t familiar with. Encourage employees to call for maintenance, even if they believe they can fix the problem.

Human errors can be prevented through training, authorization policies, and careful oversight.

Keep Equipment Repaired and Up-To-Date

People forget that automated systems can’t function safely without regular maintenance. Equipment maintenance is a key factor in creating a safe automated working environment. You can ensure that your equipment remains in good working condition by:

  • Scheduling regular maintenance sessions to repair, update, or perform other upkeep on the machines.
  • Being aware of notices, warnings, or recalls from the equipment’s manufacturer.
  • Allowing only employees who have been trained on the machines to interact with them.
  • Replacing machines when they aren’t working properly, are no longer needed, or have become too old.

Machinery has to be cared for to keep it functioning longer. Skipping repairs could lead to safety issues in the future.

Addressing these key safety hazards caused by automation can increase the safety and productivity of your business. Take the initiative today to create a safe and functional environment for everyone that works for you.

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by Harvey Carr // Harvey Carr is a contributor to Businessing Magazine.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.