Well, now that we have a new presidential administration you have to wonder what it’s going to mean to us in the realm of safety. Are the OSHA requirements going to change, or be better enforced? Is there going to be more emphasis applied to workplace safety, and what about ergonomics? Are there going to be new regulations, and even more paperwork? What changes are going to be required of our safety programs? All of these questions, and probably a great deal more, are legitimate and must be addressed in order to maintain our programs, increase the safety of our employees, and minimize the liability of our businesses. I strongly recommend that you make a habit of checking the Web sites of both OSHA and NIOSH for any and all changes before they become a problem for you. I foresee that this administration is going to be much more involved in the safety aspects of our employees than the previous administration was, so I expect that we will be seeing these changes as well as an increase in the activity of enforcement. I, of course, have no way of predicting the possible changes, but I feel pretty positive that we will be seeing some changes soon, and I feel that if you make checking for changes and/or updates a semi-weekly or even a weekly practice you can certainly improve your chances of not being caught unaware and susceptible to possible fines.
An article in this issue of the magazine deals with the broaching activities that go on in many of our shops. In many of our smaller shops this process is considered a secondary operation, and we expect it to be performed by employees whose primary jobs are not broaching. Often I see that the training on secondary operations seems to consist of: 1) put the part here; 2) press this button; 3) take the part out, and; 4) start again. This is probably an exaggeration of your process, but you can believe this situation exists, and it is not only a production headache but also a very real safety issue. If your personnel do not understand the machine, the process, and the possible hazards, you are just looking for an accident to happen. I have discussed this issue in past columns relating to other processes such as deburring, etc. I see many safety hazards inherent in broaching, from setups to cleanup, and I suggest that if you sit down and consider it you, too, will see many of these potential hazards. I suggest that you make it a priority to review this and all of the secondary operations performed in your facility from a safety standpoint. Most accidents occur when the victim is not even aware of the potential hazard, so please spend the time necessary to acquaint your personnel with all the possible hazards involved in even the smallest things expected of them as your employee. If you give this suggestion some thought I believe you’ll agree that it’s a real problem, and one that needs to be addressed.
Another topic in this month’s issue is lubrication. Again, we have discussed the safety aspects of proper lubrication in past columns, but this is a subject that bears repeating. Lubrication of the machines is not only important from a longevity standpoint, but it is also very important to the safety of personnel working on and around the machine. When a rapidly moving or rotating component of the machine seizes up due to lack of lubrication, the results can be disastrous. Not only can the machine, cutting tool, and part be damaged or destroyed, the people in the near vicinity can be badly injured by flying parts that break off the equipment.
There is another concern about lubrication that is often ignored, and that is the tendency to neglect cleaning up spills when they happen during the process of lubricating the machines. Of course, there is the usual slip hazard from oil on the floors, but there are also hazards from spilled oil on the machines and worktables. An oily part is hard to hold and can be dropped, causing leg and foot injuries. It can slip and cause a sharp edge or burr to cause hand injuries, and it can also be a fire hazard. So take all of these possibilities into consideration when reviewing the lubricating instructions provided to your personnel so that you can help to avoid unnecessary injuries in your manufacturing operation.