Maintenance safety

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17 Nov 2016

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Maintenance is a frequently overlooked area of health and safety particularly when risk assessments concentrate on ‘business as usual’ and not on non-standard activities such as repairs. Maintenance can be extremely hazardous often involving work with electricity, repairs to machinery and similar high risk activities so it is vital that organisations consider every eventuality. Even an activity that appears to be simple has the potential to cause serious harm. Inspection, testing and maintenance Ensure that regular and effective maintenance, inspection and testing is carried out on all plant, equipment and machinery so that you know it is functioning correctly. Many occupational injuries occur during maintenance operations. The amount of maintenance will vary with the type and complexity of the equipment but will essentially involve the maintenance engineer or fitter inspecting, testing and diagnosing any defect, and consequently repairing or replacing it, to ensure that the equipment does not deteriorate to a level at which creates a hazard to employees. In order to ensure the safety of maintenance operatives and those in the vicinity of the maintenance operations, all hazards associated with the work must be assessed and control measures put in place to minimise the risks. Some tips

  • Remember that certain items of equipment (e.g. lifting equipment) have, by law, detailed safety inspection and testing requirements to ensure their safety.
  • Implement safe working practices regarding the appropriate selection of personnel, e.g. employing a competent person to undertake any maintenance tasks.
  • Ensure that where particularly hazardous work is necessary such as live electrical work, permit to work systems are in place and being utilised.
Maintenance types There are three general types of Maintenance:
  1. Planned preventive maintenance (PPM) ensures that the equipment is maintained on a regular, periodic basis. This generally follows a prescribed maintenance period that manufacturers specify in their maintenance schedules.
  2. Condition-based maintenance requires that components of the equipment are examined on a regular basis and replaced when a pre-specified amount of wear or deterioration is observed.
  3. Finally breakdown maintenance gives attention to the equipment only when it ceases to function. This sort of maintenance is not suitable for safety-critical components and should be followed only if the failure of any component will not pose an immediate risk to personnel.

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