After covering how automation can increase efficiency and decrease costs, we will now be looking at how automation can decrease injuries in factories, laboratories, and hospitals. According to a 1997 study titled “Cost of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses”, there were 13 million work related injuries that cost approximately $132 billion dollars. Although this number is down from 1992 it could still be reduced significantly.
Below are some of the more common injuries and hazards associated with factories, laboratories, and hospitals:
Obviously the type of factory has a great deal to do with the types of injuries that are likely to occur. According to Dr. Shamaila’s “Injuries in Factories”, some of the major environmental factors that contribute are poorly maintained equipment, unsafe machinery, and exposure to hazardous chemicals. The more prominent personal factors are stress, boredom, and fatigue. These factors can lead to not only short-term bruises or broken bones, but also more detrimental incidents such as being paralyzed or loosing a limb.
The dangers inherent with laboratories are on an entirely different level then those of factories. The hazards of laboratories, which are either acids or bases, usually come in liquid form, in small tubes, and contain brightly colored warning labels. Some of the more common acids are Acetic Acid, Chromic Acid, Nitric Acid, and Sulfuric Acid. As for bases, the more common are Ammonia, Ammonium Hydroxide, Calcium Hydroxide, Phenol, and Potassium Hydroxide. When handling either an acid or a base it is critical to follow all the necessary precautions. One mistake could leave your skin burned and deformed.
Similar to laboratories, hospitals contain a high number of dangerous chemicals with the addition of numerous diseases and exposure to radiation. Unfortunately, germs are inevitable given the nature of the work. Chemicals can cause skin mutations and burns while radiation can cause cancer or alter your genes.
An employee who is tired or bored performing an extremely repetitious job that is dangerous is a recipe for disaster. Whether it is handling hazardous chemicals or dealing with sharp parts, the risk is equally as high. According to Wayne DeSantis in an article in Tradeline at ULAM with the University of Michigan, automation “reduces allergen exposure…while other machines can reduce contact time of soft tissues with hard surfaces and lessen repetitive stresses”. He also stresses that “automation is not meant to replace people with robots but the point is to make a better working environment”.
Although automation is costly, the increased efficiency and decreased likelihood of injuries make it a wise investment for any factory, laboratory, or hospital that has the funds to afford such technology. It may be a huge benefit to the overall growth of your company and a key factor in creating a safer, better work place.