Advances in manufacturing technology are transforming how organizations produce goods and conduct business. These advances – which include innovations in robotics, automation, the Internet of Things and autonomous vehicles – can unquestionably increase efficiency and output. The COVID-19 pandemic, labor shortages and supply chain issues have only increased the demand for and use of this technology.
However, this rapid adoption doesn’t come without risks. For manufacturing, life sciences and technology companies, as well as those in other industries, the use of advanced technology may create Workers’ Compensation and Property exposures may require assessment and appropriate controls to manage potential new risk.
To help avoid Workers’ Comp claims, proper training is essential.
While companies that fully automate their operations can expect reduced exposures over time, this transition won’t happen overnight.
Current labor shortages are driving many organizations to accelerate their investments in robotics and automation. Meanwhile, their employees – some of whom have been on the job for short periods – are being asked to interact with this new, highly advanced equipment and processes. If not properly trained, the unsafe environment increases the risk of accidents to workers and lost work time, creating additional strains on the workforce.
The importance of workplace safety procedures can’t be overstated. It’s critical that businesses emphasize safety and provide proper training and oversight for employees who will operate new equipment. Seasoned employees should share their knowledge with newer coworkers by mapping out step-by-step operating instructions for new and old equipment, allowing everyone to safely carry out complex processes. These steps enable companies to not only reduce their risk exposure, but also retain talent during a labor shortage by creating a safe work environment and team atmosphere.
Each year, the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association Annual Meeting allows manufacturers to share knowledge on operating equipment that can enhance workplace safety and efficiency. As a meeting sponsor and FMA’s endorsed carrier for over 30 years, CNA stays up to date on the evolving issues and challenges facing the manufacturing industry. Additionally, our Allied Vendor program helps businesses identify companies that can help strengthen their risk control efforts related to employee safety, behavior and productivity.
Advanced technology can make things easier and faster – until something goes wrong.
Advanced manufacturing technology is a vital tool for maximizing productivity and enabling lean operations. But when a piece of equipment fails, the impact can be long-lasting and potentially catastrophic to the business’s bottom line. Ongoing supply chain challenges continue to result in extended lead times, delayed deliveries, increased freight costs and equipment shortages.
As companies become more reliant on advanced technology, they should reconsider their approach to risk management. If a piece of machinery is lost, it can take up to six months or even a year to rebuild replace as a result of part shortages. The current rapid inflation and the unpredictable cost of steel and other materials should be included in the evaluation. Even with insurance coverage to replace equipment, businesses may run into challenges trying to acquire the appropriate parts due to backorders and supply chain delays – and may face the potential to lose customers and money in the meantime.
One way to help avoid costly delays is the presence of redundancy of equipment, including spare parts and secondary production lines. Another is to utilize CNA’s industry-leading Risk Control solutions, which include business resilience consulting services, world-class training and education programs through our School of Risk Control Education®, and post-incident reviews to better understand exposures and address potential losses.
To learn more about managing risk and increasing efficiency, visit our Risk Control page.
The information, examples and suggestions presented in this material have been developed from sources believed to be reliable, but they should not be construed as legal or other professional advice. CNA accepts no responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of this material and recommends the consultation with competent legal counsel and/or other professional advisors before applying this material in any particular factual situations. This material is for illustrative purposes and is not intended to constitute a contract. Please remember that only the relevant insurance policy can provide the actual terms, coverages, amounts, conditions and exclusions for an insured. All products and services may not be available in all states and may be subject to change without notice. “CNA” is a registered trademark of CNA Financial Corporation. Certain CNA Financial Corporation subsidiaries use the “CNA” trademark in connection with insurance underwriting and claims activities. Copyright © 2022 CNA. All rights reserved.