The United States automobile industry began in the 1890s, and due to the size of the domestic market and the usage of mass production, it rapidly evolved into the largest in the world. However, the US was overtaken by Japan in the 1980s and subsequently by China in 2008 as the largest automobile producer.
The United States is currently the second-largest manufacturer in the world by volume, with an estimated 8-10 million manufactured every year. In 2018, the sales for light vehicles in the US reached 17.2 million units, which is the fourth straight year where sales reached or surpassed 17 million units.
Figure below emphasizes the contribution of the Auto Industry to the overall US Economy.
The manufacturing industry is one of the most important industries in the US, and it contributes 7.9% of the total employment in the country. The industry directly employs more than 12 million people who take part in various activities like designing, engineering, and manufacturing supply parts. Additionally, the industry is a large consumer of goods and services from different sectors, including raw materials, construction, legal, machinery, financial, healthcare, advertising, computers, and semiconductors.
The US has around 1.9 million jobs in the automotive industry, and they are divided into certain sectors.
And these are the employment numbers for each sector as per ACS estimates.
While there are different sectors for the automotive industry, there are also different occupations each with a vital role. From car detailing to mechanic, the list of jobs in this industry are as follows:
Car rental agent
Auto body repair technician
Auto sales manager
Tow truck driver
Quality testing engineer
Vehicle manufacturers along with their suppliers and dealers make up the powerful engine that drives the US economy. Although there are many people going into the auto manufacturing industry, its physical demands and challenging work environment poses many hazards for its workers.
Employees in the automobile and motor vehicle manufacturing industry have higher rates of injury and illness compared to workers in other industries, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Auto workers are exposed to dangerous machinery, assembly line work and many of the requirements are physically demanding.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are some of the common sources of injuries that happen in the automotive industry:
In the United States, for every 100 full-time workers employed in the automotive repair and maintenance sector, 3.9 employees suffered some kind of nonfatal occupational accident or illness, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. The accident rate for the industry was also higher than that reported by other more hazardous sectors such as support activities for mining or the chemical industry. The accident rates for those were 2.3 and 2.4 per 100 workers, respectively
This table shows that injuries in the automotive industry is quite common, which means employers have to take the right steps to ensure their employees are safe. There are small things a company can do like erecting the right signages, so people would know if an area is a safety hazard or not.
Additionally, employers should ensure their automotive workers are equipped with the right safety gear in order to avoid any workplace accident or injury. However, when you take the right steps to ensure your employees are safe while they work, not only do you protect your employees, you also get to boost your business.
There are many reasons to take safety precautions in the automotive industry. Some of the common injuries that can happen are:
Chemical burns and corrosions
Hand injuries are quite common in the automotive industry. The US Department of Labor says injuries to fingers and hands made up more than 23%, making them the highest in terms of injuries. Another study says the cost of one injured hand or finger differs from $540 to $26,000 per employee. However, more serious hand injuries average $730,000 per incident.
Usually, the average number of days missed when one has a hand injury is five days while older workers who experience the same injury need around 12 to 14 days to fully recover. In addition to the days lost, hand injuries also account for hand injury claims that have cost more than $6,000 in recent years. Similarly, lost-time compensation claims have gone beyond that, racking up an average of $7,500.
When your staff is exposed to these harmful conditions, it becomes difficult to maintain productivity and employee morale. In order to curb these accidents and injuries from happening, there are certain measures that one can and should take.
Here are 7 ways you can protect your employees in a manufacturing environment:
If you notice there are some things that could potentially cause harm to someone, it’s recommended to remove the object or clean the place in a safe manner. You are legally obligated to ensure your employees’ working environment safe, so you need to take action to prevent injuries from occurring. By putting up signs and notices, you can make your employees aware of the hazards in the area and ensure they take the right safety precautions.
The misuse of tools and machines is a prevalent cause of injuries in the workplace. When employees use the equipment, you need to make sure that they are using each piece for its intended purpose and in the correct manner. Regularly clean and inspect the equipment to ensure that it is safe to use for your employees.
Whether it’s metal stamping or parts assembly, you need to ensure your employees wear the proper safety equipment, like protective gloves and bump hats. As mentioned earlier, there are many injuries that can happen in the automotive industry. There are many processes that involve your hands, which makes it imperative to have protective gear on at all times. There are gloves specifically designed to protect your hands from cuts, punctures as well as sparks and molten metal splashes. When you equip your staff with these protective equipment, you’ll greatly reduce the chances of injuries in the workplace.
If your company uses combustible materials, it’s best to only keep the amount you need for the specific task at hand. When flammable material is not in use, store the chemical in its respective safe storage area away from any sources that could cause a fire. Another piece of advice is to store combustible waste in metal receptacles and dispose of it regularly.
Quite a few work-related injuries happen when a worker is exhausted and cannot adequately see the dangers in their surroundings. By providing regular breaks, you can help your employees to be more alert when working.
No, this doesn’t mean anti-gravity. In order to ensure that heavy objects don’t fall, it’s advised to use nets, toe boards, and toe rails for protection. Additionally, it’s safer to stack boxes straight up and down while placing heavy objects on the lower shelves. It’s also more efficient and safe to keep stacked objects away from aisles and work areas.
Being the second most prevalent cause of occupational injuries, it is crucial to ensure that aisles are clear and there are no spills so employees can avoid tripping or slipping. If you deal with liquids, you can use drip pans and guards. It’s essential to clean up all spills immediately to keep the working conditions safe. Also, check the area to make sure there are no loose boards, holes, or nails projecting from the floor. If any of these discrepancies exist, replace the damaged flooring as soon as possible. You can also consider using anti-slip flooring for areas that cannot be cleaned easily.
Safety is important and it’s necessary to ensure that your employees are protected at all times, especially if you’re in the manufacturing industry. If you’re having trouble maintaining this, you can always take the help of a service that specializes in protection and safety. There are quite a few US automotive protection services that you can approach for your safety needs. As the saying goes, “It’s always better to be safe than sorry.”