Investing in Manufacturing Safety – Three Success Stories

Investing in Manufacturing Safety – Three Success Stories

Injuries in the manufacturing industry aren’t as uncommon as you may think. See the payoff after three companies invested in manufacturing safety.

The Importance of Safety in Manufacturing

From rolling parts to sharp blades, working with machinery in a manufacturing facility opens employees up to the risk of injury, which can put them out of work and disrupt your operations. Machines can cause:1
 
  • Crushed fingers or hands
  • Amputations
  • Burns
  • Blindness

Manufacturing Safety Statistics

In 2019, there were 421,400 nonfatal injuries and illnesses in the manufacturing industry.2 The injury rate was 2.6 cases per 100 full-time employees.3 When it comes to injuries involving days away from work, there were 90.7 cases per 10,000 employees.4 Some of these injuries included:5
 
  • Sprains, strains and tears: 25.4 cases per 10,000 employees
  • Cuts and lacerations: 10.5 cases per 10,000 employees
  • Amputations: 2.2 cases per 10,000 employees

Using Machine Safety to Create Safer Workplaces

Workplace and machine safety is one of the reasons why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) created “Safe and Sound Week.” Held each August, the agency invites businesses to participate in promoting workplace safety. A successful program can “proactively identify and manage workplace hazards before they cause injury or illness, improving sustainability and the bottom line.”6 OSHA states any machine part or function that can cause injury must be safeguarded.
 

Partnering With an Insurer on Manufacturing Safety

Manufacturers are unique and use a variety of machines in different ways. So, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all machine safety plan. It’s a good idea to do a risk assessment to identify what machines need guarding. These assessments can also provide specific recommendations that can help keep employees safe.
 
Some insurance companies can help with this. The Hartford’s Risk Engineering consultants partner with manufacturers to help assess risks and prevent losses before they ever occur.
 
“It starts with a risk engineering consultant reviewing the production floor to develop a tailored plan. This helps improve efficiencies and ultimately creates a safer work environment,” said Brian Kramer, head of Global Manufacturing at The Hartford.
 
It’s an approach that The Hartford prides itself on to help businesses run safer and more efficient operations. Carl Carano, head of Risk Engineering at The Hartford, said the team operates on a service philosophy that focuses on return of investment for clients.
 
“We put ourselves in our customer’s shoes and we look at their organization from end to end,” Carano explained. “And what we’re bringing is a different lens – a consultative approach to how we do business.”
 
Here are three cases where investing in manufacturing safety led to a positive return on investment:

Success Story #1

best safety practices in manufacturing
types of safety
Business Type: Products (specialty nonwovens)
safety in business
Risk: Amputation
safety net investment
Investment: $25,000
safety roi
Return: $2,063,648 (83:1)

1. Safety in Manufacturing Results in More Than $2 Million Return on Investment

We worked with a specialty nonwoven manufacturer and made seven recommendations to improve safety. The company made a $25,000 investment which included:
 
  • A customized machine brake that stops the roller in 10 seconds, rather than 20 minutes
  • A light curtain to quickly stop a machine
  • Additional new guards to protect workers’ hands
These upgrades resulted in more than $2 million in our return on investment. The company also saw over $500,000 of operational gains and efficiencies.

Success Story #2

safety in manufacturing industry
business safety
Business Type: Manufacturer of steel golf club shafts
business risks
Risk: Musculoskeletal disorders
business investment
Investment: $15,000
safe return on investment
Return: $222,376 (15:1)

2. An Automated Process to Reduce Musculoskeletal Disorders

Employees at a steel golf club manufacturer had to manipulate shafts as part of the manufacturing process. This involved holding the shafts in place while the ends were deburred. The repetitive work led to employees experiencing stiffness in their hands and wrists, ultimately resulting in workers’ comp claims.
 
The Hartford’s Risk Engineering Team performed an ergonomic evaluation at the manufacturer which revealed the problem could be solved with automation. Using automatic feeders would mean employees didn’t have to forcefully push and hold the shafts repeatedly. The feeders also increased efficiency, enabling a single worker to operate two or three machines at the same time.
 
The manufacturer made a $15,000 investment in the feeders. Since then, there haven’t been any musculoskeletal claims and the company saw more than a $222,000 return on investment.

Success Story #3

safety culture in manufacturing
safety business types
Business Type: Large food processor
risk in business
Risk: Fall-from-height/shoulder and back strain
invest in safety
Solution: Process improvements through operational loss analysis
roi from safety
Return: $106,008 (2:1)

3. A Loss Analysis That Prevents Fall Claims and Injuries

Workers at a large food processor relied on ladders to get their hoses high enough for their spice production line. Every time they climbed up them, they faced the risk of falling. In addition to falling, the repeated coupling and uncoupling of the hoses increased the workers’ risks for shoulder and back strains.
 
We worked with the manufacturer to complete an operational loss analysis to identify injury risks, making recommendations to improve ergonomics and reduce fall hazards. The manufacturer:
 
  • Purchased and fabricated additional equipment
  • Changed its process to install a permanently mounted vacuum hose for each unit
  • Eliminated the use of a ladder by adding the ability to add spices at the ground level
The investments that the manufacturer made led to a more than $106,000 return. This includes over $155,000 in operational gains and efficiencies.
 

Helping Businesses Keep Manufacturing Safety a Priority

Insurers and customers can work together to not only increase operating efficiencies, but also improve worker safety. The Hartford is constantly investing in new ways to help customers reduce their risks, Kramer said.
 
One example of this is through the use of connected devices, also known as Internet of Things. Many manufacturers already use cameras and with imagery software, the cameras can provide real-time alerts of unsafe conditions and identify areas to promote a safer work environment. Workers can also use wearable devices that track biomechanical movements. This type of data can help identify workers who are more prone to musculoskeletal injuries and possibly prevent a loss before it ever occurs.
 
Kramer believes this technology presents a large benefit to manufacturers.
 
“We’re currently going through the Fourth Industrial Revolution where we’ll see ongoing automation of traditional manufacturing practices using modern, connected devices,” Kramer explained. “Automation is rapidly growing with the increased use of sensors and robotics. Beyond automation, connected devices will continue to help create safer manufacturing workplaces.”
 
Insurers are also using partnerships to develop innovative ways to keep injuries and illnesses at bay. The Hartford recently launched a new program that provides on-site or virtual injury prevention services. It led to a 67% reduction in musculoskeletal injuries within 18 months of having an on-site program.7
 
“Helping injured workers recover and return to work faster is where we are at our best, but our capabilities extend beyond workers’ compensation,” Kramer shared. “We strive to take a holistic approach and have a very broad product set to meet all the needs of a manufacturing risk.”
 
 
 
1 United States Department of Labor: Occupational Safety and Health Administration, “Machine Guarding”
 
2 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities: Numbers of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses by industry and case types, 2019”
 
3 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities: Incidence Rates of Nonfatal Occupational Injuries and Illnesses by Industry and Case Types, 2019”
 
4,5 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities: Incidence Rates for Nonfatal Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Involving Days Away From Work Per 10,000 Full-Time Workers by Industry and Selected Natures of Injury or Illness, Private Industry, 2019”
 
6 Occupational Safety and Health Administration, “Safe + Sound”
 
7 Unify Health Services. Customers who implemented an on-site Industrial Performance Program have reduced musculoskeletal injuries by an average of 30% within the first six months and 67% within 18 months.
 
The information provided in these materials is intended to be general and advisory in nature. It shall not be considered legal advice. The Hartford does not warrant that the implementation of any view or recommendation contained herein will: (i) result in the elimination of any unsafe conditions at your business locations or with respect to your business operations; or (ii) be an appropriate legal or business practice. The Hartford assumes no responsibility for the control or correction of hazards or legal compliance with respect to your business practices, and the views and recommendations contained herein shall not constitute our undertaking, on your behalf or for the benefit of others, to determine or warrant that your business premises, locations or operations are safe or healthful, or are in compliance with any law, rule or regulation. Readers seeking to resolve specific safety, legal or business issues or concerns related to the information provided in these materials should consult their safety consultant, attorney or business advisors. All information and representations contained herein are as of July 2021.
 
The Hartford® is The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. and its property and casualty subsidiaries, including Hartford Fire Insurance Company. Its headquarters is in Hartford, CT.
The Hartford Staff
The Hartford Staff
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