Compared to fully climate controlled office environments and the dry, clean interiors associated with labs, healthcare, and retail workplaces, the manufacturing environment abounds with potential injury and health hazards. Surfaces are uneven, indoor and outdoor environments meet at uncontrolled thresholds, heavy objects are in constant motion, and loading docks and aisles often come with moving vehicles and traffic problems. The potential for collisions, falls, wet floors, and a host of other hazards are magnified, even on a mild day.

But in the winter, these problems become even worse. Winter in a manufacturing or materials handling facility can bring temperature threats like frostbite and hypothermia to employees who aren’t properly protected, and this season can also increase the dangers associated with icy surfaces and intrusive moisture. But there’s one winter hazard that manufacturing managers and employees often overlook: Static.

Static: An Overlooked Hazard

Wild fluctuations in temperature and humidity can create static buildup, and when this buildup discharges in an uncontrolled way, the surge can create serious problems for delicate electrical equipment. A small static charge can also generate a fire hazard in environments that are dense with volatile airborne gasses and particulates.

Consider a few simple steps that can minimize this threat. For example, you can start by offering training sessions for employees that can help them understand how static works and how and why they should maintain proper grounding at all times.

Meanwhile, provide grounding straps to employees who work in an environment where static accumulates and can create problems. Invest in high-quality insulated cables and wires, and most important, work to keep the temperature and humidity in the manufacturing environment under control. Humidifiers, tight door seals, and digital climate control systems can all be used to support this effort.

When employees provide feedback on the temperature or humidity in a given section of the workplace, respond quickly. Keep communication channels open at all times, and remember that in the winter, storms can unexpectedly dismantle otherwise reliable communication formats, including phone lines, radio communication, and Web platforms. Have a system in place that can handle these disruptions and provide clear instructions to employees in the event of an electrical problem.

For more on how to recognize and ward off challenging winter hazards, reach out to the manufacturing and materials handling experts at Liftow.