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Work safety, risk assessments, and standards

Risk assessments, safe working practices, standards, recommended practices

In a factory environment, the factors of risk are high since the workers constantly interact with numerous machinery, processes, and practices. The risk can be reduced by assessing and listing them, training the workers, introducing safety measures, emergency incident practice drills, displaying signboards, and following standard procedures and practices. This article list out a few of the risk assessment methods and standards.

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Keeping the textile workers safe

Health and safety at work is the responsibility of both employers and employees. Manufacturers are required by law to follow strict rules and regulations to make sure that the workers are protected from possible dangers and using machinery and handling materials. The workers must follow all safety rules and instructions to keep themselves and those around them safe.

Risk Assessment

The dangers, hazards or risks involved in making a product can be identified, described and listed. This is known as risk assessment. In the workplace, it is essential to know what might cause harm or injury to people or the environment, so that safety precautions and systems can be put in place to prevent accidents.

In the workplace a health and safety officer will:

  • Carry out risk assessments
  • Organize safety training, including first aid, for the workforce
  • Display warning notices, safety rules and fire exit signs
  • Ensure that machinery, equipment, tools and materials are stored safely, have safety guards and are safe for use, and are regularly tested for safety.
  • Check that workers wear protective clothing, ear defenders, masks, safety gloves and footwear
  • Ensure that all processes are safe and will not damage the health of the employees
  • Ensure that chemicals used in manufacturing processes are recorded, stored and used safely, then recycled or disposed of safely
  • Check that the environment is safe with clean and tidy work areas and adequate ventilation to remove dust and fumes, and has noise-level control

Risk Assessment in Apparel Manufacturing

  • Materials arrive in the factory are stored

    • Hazards: Head injury from an overhead transport system. Trapped fingers and feet from moving conveyors, trolleys, and vehicles. Tripping over stacked materials, falling from steps and platforms.
    • Safety measures: Hard hats are worn. Danger areas marked with black-and-yellow warning strips, designated walkways. Safety guards and protective clothing, gloves and footwear worn.
  • Fabric spread and pieces cut out using a band saw

    • Hazards: Finger and hand injuries and spreading machine and cutting blades. Dust inhalation.
    • Safety measures: Use finger guard, protective chainmail gloves and steel toe cap footwear.
  • Fusing interlinings

    • Hazards: Burns to fingers and hands from hot plates, feeding and unloading machines, inhalation of vapors
    • Safety measures: Use a press that is controlled by both hands, one person per machine. Ventilation to remove vapors.
  • Sewing

    • Hazards: Finger and hand injuries from needles and blades, eye injuries from broken needles, pulled hair from thread or fabric feed. High noise level may damage hearing. Seating may cause back injuries.
    • Safety measures: Finger guards and eye shields/goggles used. Long hair tied up and no loose clothing. Seats adjusted for correct posture.
  • Scissors, blades and needles

    • Hazards: Cuts and pricks to fingers
    • Safety measures: All sharp blades, scissors and sharps (needles and pins) stored safely. Finger guards used.
  • Pressing and steaming

    • Hazards: Burns and scalds to fingers and hands from hot plates and steam, feeding and unloading machines, inhalation of vapors
    • Safety measures: Use a press that is controlled by both hands, one person per machine. Use a steam room rather than steaming individual garments. Ventilation to remove vapors.
  • Cleaning and stain removal

    • Hazards: Inhalation of solvent vapors, skin damage or reaction to contact with solvents. Fire hazard. Toxic chemicals.
    • Safety measures: Ventilation to remove vapors. Solvent containers labelled with warnings. No sources of ignition.
  • Production line handling

    • Hazards: Head injury from an overhead transport system. Trapped fingers and feet from moving conveyors, trolleys and vehicles. Tripping over stacked material.
    • Safety measures: Hard hats are worn. Danger areas marked with black-and-yellow warning strips, designated walkways. Safety guards and protective clothing, gloves and footwear worn.
  • Packaging

    • Hazards: Finger and hand injuries from cutting, folding and heat sealing during packaging
    • Safety measures: Ventilation to remove vapors from heat sealers. Safety guards and protective clothing, gloves and footwear worn.

Automating the Risky Areas

Safety measures include the proper training of machine operators, which is essential throughout the production line and across the workplace.

Safety can be increased by using automated machinery and computers to assist in materials handling, particularly where loads are heavy, or with fast-running machinery where heat or sharp blades or needles are involved. Safety devices are used to check that machine setting are correct and to stop machinery in an emergency.

Posters/Signboards

Displaying educational posters is a powerful way to educate workers. It is very effective because they are easy to make, deliver a consistent message, and use pictures which are a strong form of communication targeting specific behavior. Examples which have been used in other garment factories include posters on lifting postures, proper mask wearing, and reproductive health.

Warning Signs

“Ergonomics (or human factors) is the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of the interactions among human and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data, and methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance.”

International Ergonomics Association Executive Council, August 2000

Good Posters

  • Lifting TechniquesUse posters to address specific problems or concerns. For example, posters can remind workers to dispose of fabric in rubbish bins or how to use proper lifting postures.
  • Use posters to change (or reinforce) desired behaviours using local examples.
  • Display posters where they will be useful and are easy to see.
  • Posters relating to specific jobs should be near relevant workstations.
  • Posters relating to general factory behaviours should be located in more centralized areas.
  • Posters work best when they are part of a more comprehensive training program that includes training, information sessions, exercises, etc.

Benefits of Good Posters

Communicating Posters

  • Posters that promote safety and reinforce important skills will present a positive image of the workplace.
  • Demonstrates to workers and buyers that the company cares about the welfare of its staff.
  • Easily, cheaply and consistently communicates simple messages about jobs.

How to create good Posters?

  • Create your own posters. Draw pictures or have workers’ photographs taken and add text.
  • Use posters to communicate simple points in order to make the message clear and direct.
  • Download free posters or images from the internet and add in text.
  • Make posters for specific work procedures, such as the information offered on the Good Practice Sheets.

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