Shop Safety: A Dozen Indicators to Score Your Shop

As a manufacturing guy, I have spent a lot of time in shops in many industries.


As a manufacturing guy, I have spent a lot of time in shops in many industries. So what do I look at when I first visit a shop like yours? My list may surprise you.  

1. Is my guide wearing their personal protective equipment? Do you hold yourself as an example of safety behaviors in your shop?

2. Do you hold me to the same standards for PPE as yourself and others in the shop environment? If not, why?

3. Now that we’re in the shop, I always look overhead. Is there anything that can fall from overhead? 

4. Then at the floor and walkways. Maintaining footing is my next concern. Are the floors uncluttered and free of spills? Are the aisle ways marked, free from debris, power cords and other hazards?

5. Are your personnel wearing their PPE? 

6. How your grinders present is how your shop will present. Dressed? All guards on and in proper place? Clearances on rests correct? Evidence of side grinding? Properly secured? Water in the cup? The grinder is a proxy indicator for your shop, pay attention to your grinders.

7. Are machine guards in use or carelessly tossed aside so workers can expedite whatever they think that you think is more important than their safety? 

8. Lockout-tagout. If I see folks doing maintenance, I am going to look for proper de-energization. 

9. General housekeeping. Can I see there is a process in place to keep things tidy? If so, that’s good. Can I see pride in housekeeping? If so, that’s better. Can I see your work areas could be mistaken for a pharmaceutical company or hospital despite the fact that you are cutting metal? If so, welcome to best in class.

10. Are containers labeled? Some shop fluids properly diluted and Mountain Dew look surprisingly similar; the chemicals and fluids used in our shops need to be identified so that we can properly understand their uses and potential hazards (and not mistake them for a beverage when we are tired and distracted…).

11. Is there an overhead crane? If so, we need to check your straps and slings. Having a couple thousand pounds of steel bars overhead held by frayed nylon is not a safe practice.

12. Eye wash stations, first aid kit, fire extinguishers and defibrillator. Are they available and accessible? Are the inspections up to date?

There are many more potential hazards that one can encounter in a production shop. This is not an all- inclusive list. I hope that my checklist will help you see your shop through new eyes and help you improve the culture of compliance with your team.