Manufacturers produce ‘new products’ by transforming raw materials using machinery. This page has key safety information for manufacturers operating plants, factories or mills.
Manufacturers are responsible for producing a diverse range of products including:
- milk bottling and pasteurising
- both processing and canning or bottling
- fresh fish packaging (including oyster shucking, fish filleting)
- printing and related support activities
- ready-mixed concrete production
- leather tanning and dressing
- grinding of lenses to prescription
- wood preserving and treatment
- electroplating, plating, metal heat treating, and polishing
- fabricating signs and advertising displays
- tyre retreading
- ship, boat, railway rolling stock and aircraft repair and maintenance
- substantial alteration, renovation or reconstruction of goods such as transport equipment.
It does not include:
- logging and production of crops or livestock.
- construction and fabrication of structures performed on site
Common hazards and common injuries
Each workplace will present different safety challenges. You need to know what the hazards are in your business so you can assess the risk they pose.
A 'hazard' is something that can cause injury or disease and the 'risk' is the likelihood of that hazard causing an injury or disease. You need to know what the hazards are so you can manage the risks.
To help you get started, we’ve prepared information on how to identify hazards and manage the risks common to the manufacturing industry.
ForkliftsForklift safety can be improved when workers and businesses work together.
FallsFalling from any height can lead to death or long-term injuries.
ChemicalsManaging the risks associated with using hazardous chemicals is everyone’s responsibility.
NoiseLoud or hazardous noise can make hearing instructions or warning signals more difficult, leading to workplace injuries and incidents
Manual tasksHazardous manual tasks can put stress on the body and cause serious injury.
Electrical and powerElectricity can kill or severely injure people and cause damage to property.
Mental healthThese resources will assist you in managing mental health in your workplace.
At risk workersProvide a safe and supportive workplace for everyone,
Injuries in manufacturing are frequently severe and occasionally fatal.
7% of NSW employees are involved in manufacturing and the injury rate (54.5 per 1000 workers) is higher than the state average (28.1 per 1000 workers) costing $558 million over three years.
There were 24 fatalities in the three years between 1 July 2013 and 30 June 2016 involving:
- vehicle incidents
- being hit by a moving object
- long term contact with chemicals.
Across the industry, most injuries were:
- lacerations or open wounds
- soft tissue injuries due to trauma
- injuries or diseases affecting the hands, thumbs and fingers
- upper and lower back injuries or diseases.
And these injuries were caused by:
- being hit by falling objects
- musculus stress
These injuries resulted in 40,827 workers compensation claims resulting in 218,236 weeks lost work costing $13,669 per claim on average.
Our technical resources
As the work health and safety regulator in NSW, we maintain Codes of practice for most aspects of work, from first aid in the workplace, consultation processes, to handling of dangerous chemicals.
Some of the codes relevant to the manufacturing industry include:
Plant is a major cause of workplace death and injury in Australian workplaces. There are significant risks associated with using plant and severe injuries can result from the unsafe use of plant.
The code for managing the risks of plant provides practical guidance on how to manage health and safety risks of plant once it is in the workplace,
from plant installation, commissioning and use through to decommissioning and dismantling. It also includes information about specific control measures required under the WHS Regulations for plant generally.
Get practical guidance on how to identify hazardous manual tasks and control the risks of workers being affected by musculoskeletal disorders.
Get practical guidance on managing risks to health and safety for those conducting a business or undertaking, including employers, self-employed, principal contractors, persons with management or control of a workplace, designers, manufacturers, importers and suppliers of plant, substances or structures that are used for work.
Get practical guidance on how to manage health and safety risks associated with welding. This code may also be relevant to manage the risks associated with allied processes such as metal preparation, metal cutting, gouging, brazing and soldering that need specific control measures.
For more guidance on allied process control measures refer to Health and Safety in Welding WTIA Technical Note No. 7.
Get practical guidance on how to manage health and safety risks associated with spray painting or powder coating processes.
We also have information that will help you improve and review your risk management processes. This includes videos, checklists, training and supervisory information, and safety alerts.
The manufacturing safety group provides free-to-attend consultation and networking events to help the manufacturing industry improve safety.
The manufacturing safety group meeting schedule lists the upcoming events. Also see our home page for other upcoming events.
Manufacturing safety guides
Machine safety - Manufacturers, importers, suppliers and installers
Machine safety - OperatorsEvery year thousands of workers in NSW who use machinery suffer horrific and life-changing injuries.
Machine safety - Designers
Falls safety guideDeaths and injuries from falls are preventable. This guide outlines some of the common hazards that result in falls and action you can take to avoid them.
Forklift safety fact sheet
Keeping up to date
quick ways to find out safety info
Legislation and policies
links to legal and compliance info
Keeping up to date
Legislation and policies
Relevant legislation and policies for manufacturing
Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act)
Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017 (Regulation) - The Regulation defines the obligations both employers and workers have to health and safety in the workplace.
Our other safety support services
Remember you can always book a workplace advisory visit by one of our SafeWork inspectors who will help you identify hazards and develop risk management procedures.
And our mentor program, where other businesses work with you to improve safety in your workplace, is also a valuable addition to your risk management program.
You can also call us for assistance at any time on 13 10 50.