A short guide to safety in manufacturing

Over the past month, we have been researching and analyzing safety in manufacturing. Below is a compilation of the most interesting articles, as well as a brief introduction on how indoor positioning can help in keeping your employees safe during their shifts.

Content Overview

  1. Top 5 safety related issues in manufacturing
  2. 5 steps to improve safety in manufacturing
  3. Conducting the Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA framework)
  4. A list of the top 9 IIoT use cases for manufacturing safety
  5. Indoor positioning and manufacturing safety

1. Top 5 safety related issues in manufacturing

Source: Why is manufacturing safety important

Everyone in manufacturing knows that putting safety measures in place will cost less than paying for violations, accidents and fatalities. Despite that, regulators collect millions in fines every year and corporates pay millions in claims and settlements. Here are the top 5 violations based on frequency curated by KPA:

1. Machine Guarding
Inadequate employee protection from machines that can cause injuries. 

2. The Control of Hazardous Energy AKA Lockout/Tagout
Lacking prevention mechanisms for the release of dangerous energy (electricity, steam, chemicals, etc.) during servicing and maintenance.

3. Hazard Communication
Inadequate labeling and tracking of hazardous chemicals, as well as employee training for the handling of these chemicals. 

4. Respiratory Protection
Failure to prevent occupational diseases caused by breathing air contaminated with harmful dusts, fogs, fumes, mists, gases, smokes, sprays, or vapors.

5. Electrical Wiring Methods
Inadequate protection of employees from electrocution.

2. 5 steps to improve manufacturing safety

Source: Must take steps to ensure safety in manufacturing facilities

Ensuring safety around your manufacturing plant can be a daunting task. This guide provides a good starting point with the following 5 recommendations:

  1. Conduct a thorough risk assessment
  2. Prioritize housekeeping
  3. Require workers to wear the necessary safety gear
  4. Ensure proper installation of guarding mechanisms
  5. Deliver consistent and adequate training to employees

3. Conducting the Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA framework)

Source: How to conduct a Failure Modes and Effects Analysis

A key tool to assess risk in your manufacturing facilities is the FMEA framework. Here is  what it is and how to use it:


FMEA stands for Failure Mode and Effect Analysis. It is a systematic and proactive way to understand where some of your processes might fail and what the effects would be, rather than waiting until you are fined or accidents occur.

How to use it

1. Identify potential failures and defects

Map out your manufacturing process and its functional requirements. Then list down all the failure modes possible in the components used.

2. Determine severity rating (S)

1: No effect, no danger

2: Very minor – usually noticed only by discriminating or very observant users

3: Minor – only minor part of the system affected; noticed by average users

4-6: Moderate – most users are inconvenienced and/or annoyed

7-8: High – loss of primary function; users are dissatisfied

9-10: Very high – Hazardous; Product becomes inoperative, customers angered. Failure constitutes a safety hazard and can cause injury or death.

3. Gauge likelihood of occurrence (O)

1: No documented failures on similar products/processes

2-3: Low – relatively few failures

4-6: Moderate – some occasional failures

7-8: High – repeated failures

9-10: Very high – failure is almost certain

9-10: Very high – hazardous. Product becomes inoperative, customers angered. Failure constitutes a safety hazard and can cause injury or death.

4. Assigning likelihood to detect failure (D)

1: Fault is certain to be caught by testing

2: Fault almost certain to be caught by testing

3: High probability that tests will catch fault

4-6: Moderate probability that tests will catch fault

7-8: Low probability that tests will catch fault

9-10: Fault will be passed undetected to user/customer

5. Assign risk priority number

RPN = S x O x D

After identifying the most problematic areas (the ones with the highest RPN score), these should get the highest priority of being fixed through inspections, tests, new processes/designs, etc.

4. A list of the top 9 IIoT use cases for manufacturing safety

Source: 9 ways to use industrial IoT for industrial safety

  1. Detect environmental hazards
  2. Maintain operating conditions
    Coming to work has to be worth the effort. Modern office spaces, in which you can see space availability and book desks, order food or monitor the air quality and safety compliance via your phone, will create the necessary wow-effect to incentivize people to come back.
  3. Preventive maintenance
  4. Employ failsafes
  5. Enforce operating procedures
  6. Remote monitoring – logistics and transport
  7. Aggregate monitoring – efficient management
  8. Data analytics and machine learning
  9. Monitor employee health

For a detailed description of each use case, see the source link above.

5. Indoor positioning and manufacturing safety

With products and manufacturing processes increasing in complexity, managing safety and productivity is becoming harder. Indoor positioning can help with both:

Indoor positioning systems (RTLS) can draw up relationships between locations, people and equipment to identify risks and opportunities. For example, Croona & Niklasson (2020) mention that by accurately tracking people and vehicles in manufacturing plants, “near miss” thresholds can be defined. The thresholds are based on the minimum distance required between vehicles and employees to ensure safety. Subsequently, safety officers can review occurrences of “near misses” and optimize the plant layout to minimize injuries and insurance-related claims.

In addition to safety, the same data can be used to increase the flow of materials and thereby, productivity. More specifically, the maximum speed at which vehicles travel inside a manufacturing plant can be automatically increased or decreased depending on their location or the presence of employees. For example, the maximum vehicle speed can be automatically increased when there are no employees present within a particular zone in the plant, allowing for a higher flow of equipment and material.

If you liked this post or want to learn more about indoor positioning, follow us on LinkedIn or contact us for a demo.


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