By George Taninecz
U.S. factory employment rose 470,000 from January 2010 to March 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, with manufacturers adding 37,000 persons in March. Top hires were at motor vehicles and parts companies (more than 12,000) and machinery companies (more than 7,000).
Manufacturers are staffing up because orders are rising, and management is increasingly feeling the constraint of underemployment as they try to hit their output numbers. But increasing output should not be the first order of business for management as new hires and/or returning workers walk into plants. Think safety.
In addition to training new or returning workers on you company’s safety practices and standards, consider also areas within your facilities that pose the greatest risk to all employees. Start by reviewing OSHA’s top 10 areas of safety violations in 2011, most of which are highly applicable to manufacturers:
- Fall protection;
- Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout);
- Excavations, requirements for protective systems;
- Powered industrial trucks;
- General duty clause;
- Electrical, wiring methods, components and equipment; and
- Electrical systems design.
More business and new employees should be good news for your company. Make it good news for your employees as well, and make sure they all return to work the next day. In 2010, there were 320 manufacturing fatalities (2.2 fatal injuries per 100,000 full-time employees or equivalents). 
Contact The MPI Group to learn about the 2011/2012 MPI Manufacturing Study findings and the 2011/2012 Next Generation Manufacturing Study findings.
 “Employment Situation Summary,” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 6, 2012.
 “Most Frequently Cited Standards,” OSHA, Sept. 30, 2011.
 “National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2010,” OSHA, Aug. 25, 2011.