There’s little doubt that the advent of automation in manufacturing has changed the world. In no place is this more obvious than in the industry where the phrase was first coined. Automation has swept across the automotive industry’s plant floor, allowing for better-made and less expensive vehicles. Nonetheless, for all of the benefits an increased reliance on robotics has brought, automotive manufacturing is far from being a fully automated process. Especially because workers are now interacting with increasingly sophisticated machines, occupational health and safety concerns must address the new challenges that come with advanced automation.
The number of workplace fatalities in the American auto industry is comparatively low. Between 25 and 35 workers lose their lives in any given year on the job. While every single workplace fatality is one too many, the number is small if compared to other high-risk industries, such as the agricultural or energy sector. Additionally, 5.2% of the automotive workforce will suffer from a work-related injury or illness. This means that approximately 43,000 workers are injured on the job every year and translates into over 1.8 million man-hours of production lost.
Even with machines performing the most arduous tasks, an automotive assembly line remains a dangerous place. Along with the more typical causes of injury that can occur in any occupation, such as striking accidents, falls, the risk of fire, an automotive assembly line also poses specific safety hazards, including:
- Repetitive stress injuries caused by constantly performing the same task.
- The psychological strain of trying to stay mentally focused on a repetitious job.
- Gradual hearing loss.
- Exposure to industry-specific chemicals and treatments.
- The potential risk of heavy machinery malfunction.
Thankfully, automotive companies have been proactive in attempting to deal with these industry-specific hazards. Workers are being outfitted with the proper safety gear, and steps are being taken to ease the physical and mental strain of working in the same area for a full shift, such as rotating to a different section or adding other forms of mental stimulation to keep workers alert. In order to lessen the chance of a potentially fatal mechanical malfunction, all machines and robotic systems are regularly inspected and serviced on the assembly floor.
Though a company may supply all of the necessary material needs for the health and safety of its workers, there is no greater weapon against illness and injury than information. Keeping your workforce informed of risks and safety procedures lead to greater productivity and happier workers. Considering that almost all automotive companies are subject to constant changes in their production process and assemble parts all around the world, keeping OHS information up to date has become both more essential and more challenging than ever.
Automotive translation is one of the key areas of expertise at EVS Translations. If you are an OEM or a Tier 1 or Tier 2 supplier to the automotive industry, we can help you to present health and safety-related instructions to all your employees in a clear, concise manner, help prevent accidents and thereby reduce lost production times. EVS Translations operates 7 offices in 5 countries with teams of multi-lingual translators specializing in occupational safety instructions, health and safety manuals, brochures and training manuals. Meet us at the 20th World Congress on Safety and Health in Frankfurt Germany in August or simply contact us to learn more about how we can help you make the most of your health and safety programs.