Ensuring your workplace is as safe as possible is vital. This means that you should seek to control or prevent potential hazards that could affect people on your site or the site building itself. But it’s also important to make sure your assets are protected. This guide looks at what that means and how best to ensure you have an effective level of protection.
1. What are the Basic Details of Workplace Asset Protection?
Once people in your workplace are properly protected and buildings are protected from potential damage, it’s important to consider your assets. But what do we mean by the word “asset”?
1) What are Workplace Assets?
Assets refer to the various elements of the workplace that are important to the business, but which are neither employees nor infrastructure. Examples of assets include:
- Field vehicles and other material-handling tools
- Inventory and goods
2) Why Do We Need to Protect Workplace Assets?
Each of these asset groups is important to the success of the business, so effective protection by employers and relevant health and safety personnel is critical. If any of the items on the list above are damaged as a result of a workplace accident, it could affect the workforce or your buildings and infrastructure.
Damage to assets can stop production or at least reduce productivity – and can lead to financial losses, whether through costly repairs or, in the case of inventory and goods, lost or delayed customer orders.
3) How Do You Protect the Assets in Factory or Warehouse?
There are a variety of ways to keep your workplace assets safe from accidents and incidents. These include:
• Install effective workplace safety systems
• Have strict safety guidelines for moving and working on busy sites
• Observe all applicable health and safety regulations and laws
• Maintain and repair assets where possible
• Provide effective training on the use of machinery and equipment
2. Why Protect Machinery in the Workplace?
Machinery is the engine that keeps factories running. When the machines are up and running, production can continue and people can continue to work. If a machine suffers damage or destruction, such as a collision with an on-site vehicle, this can have wider consequences than merely repairing or replacing the machine.
Machine damage can mean long downtime not only for your workers but also for production. If your machines aren’t running, it’s going to be very difficult for you to fulfill orders and meet deadlines. Not to mention the risks posed to workers by using faulty or damaged machinery. Therefore, it is very important to protect your machine from damage. By identifying hazards in your risk assessment, you can take steps to prevent incidents and reduce the risk of disruption.
3. How Do You Protect the Machine?
As mentioned above, a risk assessment is an ideal way to discover potential hazards that could affect your machinery or cause potential injury or damage to others in your facility. Common risk types for machinery include:
- Exposed cable trays or conveyors are vulnerable to on-site vehicles
- Unprotected moving parts can be hit or injured by forklifts
- Power lines or other components present tripping hazards
- Machinery areas pose a hazard to pedestrians and vehicles Barriers
- Machinery approaching busy vehicular routes not protected by barriers
1) Ensure Correct Setting
Make sure your machine is set up correctly. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines during installation and setup. Where possible, use a trusted fitter or a professional outside team to ensure the machinery meets the relevant specifications. This can cause problems immediately if a machine is not set up properly, or further down the line as its performance becomes more problematic. By minimizing errors in machine setup, you can reduce the downtime needed to service machines later.
2) Proper Maintenance of the Machine
All machines require proper care and maintenance. This could be cleaning your machine regularly, replacing specific components that are experiencing wear, or simply running diagnostic tests to ensure it is functioning optimally. Consult the manufacturer’s instructions for what to do and how often.
If your machine is still under warranty, the manufacturer may recommend regular service by a trusted maintenance team. If this is the case, the investment to maintain peak performance is worth it. Furthermore, it allows you to take specific planned downtimes into account and adjust your production schedule accordingly.
3) Protect Machines from Environmental Influences
During the risk assessment, try to identify any conditions surrounding the machine that might affect its performance. Is there other machinery or equipment nearby that could pose a potential risk to the machine? Is the machine exposed to the elements in any way – i.e. is it near an exterior door or window? Is there an area of the building that requires maintenance to prevent hazardous materials from affecting your machinery – ie leaks, fumes, sawdust, or other debris, etc.?
Once you have identified these potential risk factors, you can begin to implement the necessary steps to reduce your risk. This may mean moving your machinery or reconfiguring your site layout, but often small repairs and maintenance can prevent problems.
4) Protect machinery from on-site vehicles
Forklift and pallet truck accidents are very common, especially in facilities that are very busy, as was mentioned in the section on protecting people. Knocks and bumps often seem minor, but they can cause serious damage to your machine, affecting maneuverability and performance. You can minimize the risk of such damage by installing a proper protective security system.
4. Types of Safety Protection for Machinery
1) Traffic Barrier
Rugged traffic barrier protection is ideal for protecting machinery from being struck by vehicles. Barriers can provide specific protection for vulnerable areas of a machine, or be configured to provide a perimeter of protection around a workspace. Be sure to leave plenty of room for the “deflection zone” — this is the space where the obstacle deforms when hit.
2) Effective Traffic Management
Additionally, security barriers can assist in optimizing traffic flow across your site. In addition to defining clear routes for traffic, traffic barriers can also protect machinery and other assets from vehicles.
Where there is no room for a full barrier system, bollards can provide specific protection for vulnerable areas of the machine, namely when the corners of the machine meet the path of the vehicle. Bollards can provide heavy-duty protection for forklifts and other large on-site vehicles without obstructing the passage of pedestrians or machine operators—in these cases, bollards may be a better choice than safety barriers.
5. Protecting Workplace Equipment to Stay Safe
Tools and equipment are essential to daily operations. Without them, employees cannot perform their jobs properly and safely. Therefore, employers need to do everything in their power to ensure that any on-site equipment is safely stored and properly protected.
1) Maintenance and Repair
It is very important to ensure that your equipment is functioning properly when needed, otherwise, you will run the risk of malfunctioning. Not only does this affect work in progress, but it also puts workers at risk. By taking care of your equipment, you can prevent other accidents from happening. Make sure the equipment is properly maintained and serviced regularly according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
Proper storage of your device ensures that it cannot be lost, damaged, or stolen. Not all equipment needs to be stored away at the end of a shift, but when possible, creating a designated storage room is an effective way to keep your workspace tidy and your equipment safe when not in use.
For smaller handhelds like work tools and equipment, creating a workstation with organized spaces for specific tools keeps them safe and easy to find when needed.
3) Upgrade Equipment
While it’s important to maintain and service your equipment regularly, sometimes it makes sense to upgrade to a newer model. Newer device iterations are often more efficient and can include new security features that help better protect users.
6. Workplace Protection to Take Care of Your Stock and Goods
Needless to say, stocks need protection. It’s what your employees spend hours making, packaging, and distributing to customers who depend on receiving your product on time. The last thing you want is a workplace accident that damages or destroys your valuable inventory. Therefore, it is important to provide the necessary protection:
1) Warehouse Protection
Warehouses are used for the storage and organization of inventory and also for storing manufacturing materials and components. Optimize storage with warehouse racks, which are large industrial racks. It is very important to ensure that warehouse shelves are protected as they can cause significant damage if they are impacted by vehicles on site. In many severe cases, collisions can cause shelves to collapse and damage large quantities of valuable inventory.
However, even minor impacts can damage inventory and cause shelves to be quarantined while necessary repairs are made. This can affect productivity and cause delays in customer orders. There is a range of protection products available to protect your shelves and therefore the assets you store.
3) Rack Leg Protection
Leg protectors provide effective additional protection for your rack legs in the event of a collision with live vehicles. Protectors act as buffers to protect shelves from scratches, scuffs, and knocks, absorbing impact and transferring it away from the structure.
4) Rack Side Barrier
They work in the same way as standard traffic barriers, providing strong vehicle crash protection. These low-level barriers are ideal for fending off-field vehicles when moving between rack aisles. Rack ends are especially vulnerable to damage, as fully loaded vehicles can pinch them when turning into narrow aisles.
5) Prevent Car Fork
Since forklifts are used to stack and organize inventory on warehouse shelves, it is important to guard against vehicle forklifts. Forks can damage the inventory itself or warehouse shelves if the driver is not careful or does not have room to maneuver effectively. Low fork guards are often used in conjunction with end-of-frame guards to keep the forks from moving under the guard.
6) Rack Protection Technology
The field of workplace safety is relatively new, but it is now possible to invest in software that not only detects damage caused by warehouse shelves but also provides real-time, up-to-date reporting on the safety of the shelves.
7) Push Down Barriers and High-Level Protection
In areas where stock and goods are stacked without the aid of shelves, a high level of protection is very important. Pour barriers serve two purposes, goods can be stacked higher when safely stored – dump barriers help to isolate and contain these stacked goods. In addition, the barrier structure can also effectively prevent the cargo from falling and prevent the chance of injury to nearby pedestrians, machinery, and vehicles.
Once you’ve established that your workers and the building itself are protected, the next step is workplace assets. As explored in this article, the term covers everything from inventory and goods to machinery and equipment. Therefore, it is imperative to look at the correct level of protection required across your site to ensure that production is not stopped or reduced in the event of an incident, and to protect your valuable inventory to ensure you can fulfill customer orders. With research and insights from a variety of manufacturers, you can have the information you need to make an informed decision.
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