Manufacturing and industrial facilities are laden with a diverse spectrum of risks. The work environment is fast-paced with many moving parts and complex processes; the dangers are both hidden and out in the open. If you are a new engineer, you don’t know what you don’t know, and it is easy to overlook the less than obvious dangers that can result in serious injury or even death. As a new engineer, I have witnessed close calls which inspired me to share these safety tips that I think every new engineer should know.
Pay Attention to Safety Training
Your workplace should require you to go through safety training, whether through an in-person program or a series of videos. Make sure to pay attention and take notes as you feel necessary to reference later. While a lot of safety training may seem like common sense, you never know what you may forget as time passes. Additionally, if you feel that you will be in a situation that you don’t have proper safety training for, reach out to your manager or HR and ask for resources for the necessary training.
PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)
In this job, engineers will be exposed to a variety of manufacturing processes and machines. When working on-site at a customer’s facility, at the bare minimum you should always have safety glasses on and wear comfortable, closed-toe shoes. Some customers may have different safety requirements, which you should check before going on site. Other PPE to consider having available includes but is not limited to, steel-toed boots, safety gloves, hard hat, and reflective vests. Some PPE may be available through your employer or customer depending on workplace safety specifications.
Manufacturing plants and other customer sites will have sharp edges, moving parts, cables running on the floor, and many other obstacles. Make sure to wear comfortable clothing that is not loose fitting, but also not too tight to restrict movements. Long pants are usually recommended, especially when working on machines. Some places may require long-sleeved tops as well, so make sure to check with the customer if necessary. Pull back long hair with a hair-tie, and safely stow or tuck in any jewelry. I like to keep a container in my bag to store any jewelry I may have on to avoid injury or losing it.
Pack the Basics
Keep a multi-meter, all-in-one screwdriver, terminal screwdriver, wire cutter/stripper, needle-nose pliers, and adjustable wrench in your bag to adjust components as needed.
Know Your Surroundings
When first-arriving on-site, the customer may show you around the area you’ll be working. Take note of your surroundings and ask questions. Will you have access to the whole plant or one station of a machine? Where is the nearest exit in emergency? The nearest bathroom? What areas are off limits? Where can you enter the machine or are you allowed to go into the machine if it’s shutdown? Adding on to this, make sure you know which customer employee you should talk to for specific issues. At your physical workstation on-site, keep your area clean and organized.
Pack a water bottle and emergency snacks in your bag to stay energized throughout the day; you could be working long hours and be on your feet for a long time. Back at home or at the hotel, try to get as much sleep as possible to rest for the next day. You need to be attentive and alert on-site!
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