With increasing emphasis being placed on ESG, (Environmental, Social and Governance), combined with the increasingly tight labor market, manufacturers are realizing that workplace safety has become a critical success factor in business success. When coupled with the production losses that accompany workplace accidents, preventing accidents has become a manufacturing imperative. Multiple surveys have categorized workplace safety as one of the top three management issues for manufacturers in 2022. Why is management now focused on safety? There are a number of reasons:
- When a skilled worker is injured and misses work finding replacements is increasingly difficult
- Accidents result in lost productivity which directly impacts profitability in today’s economy
- Accidents often beget accidents – once safety degrades it has a cascading effect as workplace conditions and worker attitudes decline
These are but a few of the effects of an unsafe workplace, which is why manufacturers are focusing on engaging the workforce to drive safety. However, many are ignoring one of the most powerful tools they have to increase workplace safety.
Why Manufacturing Accidents Happen
Accidents can occur for many reasons, equipment failures, process problems, human error or force majeure events. When things are running smoothly, and the equipment is well maintained, accidents are few but if process upsets occur things quickly go wrong. It is much like cruising down the freeway and all is well until an accident occurs up ahead which then leads to a chain reaction pile up. Depending on the industry, as much as 80% of safety and quality related issues occur during non-steady-state operations. Therefore, manufacturers are spending so much on safety software as they try to address safety concerns and implement corrective and preventive measures.
How Your MES Contributes to Safety
Instead of investing in new CAPA software, your manufacturing execution system contributes to safety in numerous ways:
- It helps maintain a smooth process flow by automating tasks such as data collection that distract operators from actual manufacturing processes
- It can help ensure proper tools, methods and materials are all utilized reducing production problems
- It can assure that machinery has been properly inspected and serviced prior to use
- When a process change is mandated, it ensures that subsequent activities adhere to the new process as operators follow work instructions in the MES
- Digitalization enabled by the MES maintains engagement with a technically literate workforce and engagement has been shown to be the top contributor to a safe workplace.
So, while your MES may be what you use to drive manufacturing operations, the reality is that it is also one of the most powerful tools you have to create a safer plant.