5 ways to improve working conditions for factory workers

The cost, availability, and skill level of factory workers is so fundamental that it makes companies shift their plants across the world.

It is, therefore, safe to say that human labor is a key pillar of the manufacturing sector. However, recent studies indicate that the life expectancy of factory workers is quite low and the older years are riddled with ill health. Which brings to mind the question, are factory workers treated as well as they should be?

As a factory owner, the working conditions of your staff should be a top concern. They directly impact production and subsequently your profit margins. Moreover, from a human perspective, it behooves you and your brand to simply do right by them. Wondering where to start? Worry not, here are some tips to start you off.

A staff-friendly work culture

Work culture refers both to structure and the atmosphere in a place of business. In this instance, let us focus on the latter. Most factories are run on the principle of productivity above all else. This borrows heavily from the strict approach taken by factory owners during the industrial revolution. Workers were worked to the bone, paid a pittance, and penalized heavily for any errors or shortcomings.

Understandably, productivity is crucial. Nevertheless, a hostile work culture that drives staff like slaves is inhumane and reflects terribly on your company. As opposed to forming all your policies based solely on numbers and targets, take a moment and consider that your workers are human. They get tired, have bad days, and can make mistakes despite their best intentions. Create a work culture that balances these factors against productivity.

Fair shifts and remuneration

In America, the average factory worker makes about $10 to $15 an hour. Assuming the recommended 40-hour workweek, such an employee would earn between $400-600 a week. The truth, however, is that their work hours are often much longer than that and sometimes for even lower pay. Moreover, their contracts mostly have no medical insurance or work benefits. As a result, such employees are forced to work multiple jobs to make a liveable wage.

The challenge is not so much that your staff would have to work multiple jobs but rather the effect that it has on them. More jobs mean fewer hours of rest and subsequent fatigue. Keep in mind, these are the very people that you will entrust with heavy machinery at your factory. A lack of medical cover and possibly job security further makes staff anxious and stressed about their well-being or that of their families.

Make an effort to pay your staff as well as you possibly can and remunerate them at competitive rates for overtime. Go even a step further and ensure that they have access to healthcare and that their on-the-job insurance is taken care of. All factors indicate that when workers are cared for, their output is far better and you would experience little to no staff turnover.

Safe working conditions

Manufacturing processes typically involve high heat, sharp tools, high-risk chemicals among a myriad of other risks. This is a big contributor to the health complications that factory staff suffer later in life. Additionally, with the increased uptake of robots in manufacturing, more firms are seeing a rise in human-robot accidents.

Given a choice, no one would willingly show up at a job where they risk being decapitated, burned, or exposed to carcinogenic materials. Yet, factory workers do this every day to earn a living. The least you can do is make your factory safer for them by:

  • Ensuring good air quality in the factory space
  • Investing in collaborative robots that are built and programmed to safely share workspaces with human beings.
  • Providing staff with safety gear, evaluating the gear for compliance regularly, and ensuring that it is comfortable for them.

Emergency response systems 

Sometimes, despite everyone’s best efforts, accidents are bound to happen. With this in mind, engage your team and other relevant experts in creating safety response protocols. This could include safety drills, regular safety training, and or first aid skills.

Another angle to this would be emergency shutoffs. Running machines, conveyor belts or pipelines could easily turn a bad situation into a catastrophe. Installing easily accessible switches to turn them off would be a great solution. For pipelines, a valve, such as a trunnion, that provides a tight seal even in high pressure would be ideal. Aim for a trunnion ball valve supplier that can customize the valve to specifically fit your factory systems.

Opportunities to advance

One of the leading causes of low job satisfaction among factory staff is the lack of room for growth. Take a production line worker for example. They spend hours on their feet and perform physically demanding labor. Aside from the fact that such work is repetitive and unrewarding, this likely means that as they age, they will be unable to keep up.

Creating opportunities for staff to advance to higher levels of management and other operations would be very motivating for staff. It gives them a way to increase their pay and graduate to other levels where they could serve for longer even with age. You could achieve these through promotions and hiring for higher positions in-house.

Conclusion

It is easy to get complacent and accept that less-than-ideal working conditions are just the hallmark of the manufacturing industry. That would, nonetheless, be a cop-out. You could be the one to make a difference by leading by example. So, instead of conforming, do better.

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