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Safety Upgrades that Take Your Facility from Drab to Fab

03 February, 2023

Facility upgrades, expansions, and redesigns have to consider a ton of factors to make them worthwhile and successful. Here are a few tips to getting the most out of those activities.

Aging creeps up, especially when you take a real good look in the mirror. The past year has been a wake-up call for older facilities, as many took a deep look and gasped for fresh air amid demand. When a facility notices it has outdated methods and processes-and can't meet quality, quantity, or safety and compliance goals-it's time to hit the refresh button. 

Reviving an aging facility isn't about dusting cobwebs, slapping on a coat of new paint, and chasing out the ghosts. It requires an intrinsic look at improving the business from top to bottom, inside and out. Mechanical and electrical upgrades are a huge feat for any workplace. It also takes time. Redesigns and retrofits for entire plumbing, HVAC, switchgear, mechanical systems, and more require meticulous planning and care to not only make the project efficient, but safe. 

Switching Gears

According to a recent poll by Manufacturers News Inc., 23% of manufacturers polled said they plan to upgrade or expand their facilities in 2021. Upgrades and expansions are necessary to help a facility improve production, modernize processes, incorporate sanitation, meet compliance, and focus on workplace safety. Strengthening security and saving energy are other trends in redesigns as more companies embrace digital technology.

Why is it important to upgrade, change, or redesign a facility? Several environmental health and safety managers polled said it's necessary to appropriately use space, adapt to industrial machine changes for better preventative maintenance and diagnostics, and keep up with or ahead of competitors.

"Some of our more recent upgrades have been for security," said Becky Moore, an EHS manager in California. Security upgrades can help protect proprietary designs, drawings, and other types of important data from being exposed. 

"[Facility upgrades] help bring older facilities into compliance with standards," said Oklahoma safety expert Mike Tucker.

Improving safety is important for compliance, and high-quality security is also an important step in achieving ISO. Facilities built decades ago did not have the technology of today in mind, nor did they make innovations for globalization or those standards.

Regulations for safety and sanitation are about to change, and will potentially be stricter. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is set to unveil safety regulations and enhance safety best practices for various industries regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This likely will set the precedent for further OSHA involvement for other safety and security concerns, safety experts say.

Design functionality must also incorporate safety to meet the demands of today. When any workplace, from food manufacturing to chemical processing and beyond, is considering upgrades and redesigns, they must take into consideration the needs of the present day and the sustainable future. That means designing, building, and maintaining it as a high-performance entity for building owners and operators, as well as any contractor who might assist in the future. For a thorough redesign and upgrade, consider the full scope of work:

  • Conduct monthly and daily job site evaluations from top to bottom. Report conditions and corrective actions.                                                      
  • Go over HazCom training and OSHA-specific safety requirements for confined spaces, fall protection, personal protective equipment (PPE), and more. Cover site-specific hazards and activities through a job hazard analysis (JHA). 
  • Update and document training regularly.

Strategical Steps

When planning any sort of facility change, risk management should be a part of the project management process from the beginning. Safety input at all stages can vastly improve efficiency and compliance, as well as hit all other business goals. An affordable reinforcement of safety includes communication such as signs, labels, and floor marking. 

Facility refreshes and rearranging help defeat habituation, which can cause employees to become blind to certain statics in their environments. Even simple changes to signs and labels can continue to grab worker attention.

Signs are a helpful component for installation, maintenance, and to convey important procedural instructions. Labels can identify cables, equipment, PPE information, chemical hazards, inventory, asset management, and more. Floor marking creates boundaries for walking and working areas, which enhances worker protection.

How can facilities label to ensure the safety of guest contractors? Keep a DuraLabel printer on-site for printing that's easy, on demand, and 100% accurate for what you need.