3 ways to improve Health and Safety in your Maintenance Department

Posted by on Jul 30, 2013 in Preventive Maintenance | Comments Off on 3 ways to improve Health and Safety in your Maintenance Department

This is the first article in a two-part series about how to improve health and safety practices in your business.

The health and safety issue should be prioritised and given utmost attention, regardless of the industry. In this article we are discussing health and safety with regards to manufacturing industries. A company’s most prized asset is its workforce. Therefore, human resource planning and maintaining high quality standards, are necessary for businesses to protect the health and lives of their employee at the place of work.

One of the functions of a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) is to ensure that certain standards are kept, both by the employees individually and also by the company as a whole. Companies that are serious about the safety of their employees maintain quality standards minimizing any possibility of accidents happening at the place of work.

This article will be concerned with a brief discussion on creating a safe environment on the place of work. Attention will also be attributed to how CMMS software can contribute in this regard.

1. Identifying areas of danger

Keeping records of past workplace incidents is important as it serves the purpose of helping notice any patterns with workplace incidents. For instance, if within the last two years, there have been three incidents with the electricity generator, resulting in a number of injuries, a thorough investigation of the situation is then necessary. The argument that the past is not always a good indicator for future decision making is very much debatable in the context of health and safety. This is completely understandable. If accidents are not catered for they will continue happening in the future, in the process jeopardizing the health of the companies’ employees.

CMMS software is a useful tool that can be used to identify areas of danger. Using such systems helps you automatically keep a record of all machine breakdowns, and therefore makes it easier to avoid situations which might threaten workers’ safety. Furthermore, recent advancements in reliability centred maintenance and condition monitoring, such as vibration analysis and oil analysis, it has now become easier to monitor the quality of operation of machinery.

2. Standard operating procedures

Developing Standard Operating Procedures is one of the most critical exercises for any maintenance department. Having a safety program is crucial. A safety program, for instance, ensures that every work order issued by the CMMS has instructions describing the necessary safety precautions that need to be taken to ensure that the maintenance guys can perform their duties with minimal danger necessary. These instructions should ideally be pre-established before CMMS implementation so that employees get accustomed to them. Clearly stated instructions are needed as they help reduce confusion and uncertainty, and as a result create a better workflow and productivity. For example if an accident is reported in Area B1L2C3 in a manufacturing plant, one will look for the operating procedures in practice at the time of the accident.

Having the safety procedures written down also protects the company from any blame in case of injury. If it is found that an accident occurred because an employee did not follow such procedures, the firm escapes any liability provided that it provided the employee with the necessary tools needed to carry out the task safely

3. Safety priority

The equipment of the firm is given an importance rating. This is called the ‘critical value.’ It depends on the importance of the asset to the firm in comparison to other equipment. This critical value is determined by the user, and many times it depends on the role the equipment plays in the production process, the amount of constant preventive maintenance it requires, the level of danger risk that it places the employee in the case of a fault, and so on. This is very relevant for good health and safety practices. In addition, if machines are not checked on a regular basis; they might act as a threat to an employee’s safety. Injuries to the workforce result in more production stoppages, and lower worker morale.

Maintenance criticality should not be measured just by the importance of the asset to the production line, but rather it should be measured according to the danger it exposes the maintenance employees to.

Conclusion

In this article we have dealt with identifying areas of danger, setting standard safety operating procedures and developing a favourable attitude towards developing and implementing safety regulations.