Improving safety procedures after breakdowns, near-misses and accidents may help prevent future accidents, but this involves the risk of serious injuries occurring, complete with costly shutdowns and mountains of paperwork that follow. Being able to predict when assets need maintenance rather than waiting until they break down, allows you to avoid the dangers of working with unsound machinery. Furthermore, maintaining an auditable record of when machinery requires service allows you to fix assets before they contribute to accidents, and ensures you are complying with all health and safety requirements in your industry.
Reactive maintenance is maintenance done on equipment after something occurs that reveals maintenance is required. If something breaks, you know it needs to be fixed. While this is not always dangerous to workers, it becomes a hazard when the broken assets are dangerous assets. According to the United States Department of Labor, a reported 4,679 workers died on the job in 2014, with many, many more being involved in non-fatal work accidents. From improper ventilation for oil vapors, to damaged electrical wiring, there are many potential hazards in the workplace that are preventable with proactive repair. Proactive maintenance means maintaining the equipment or safe work environment before a problem or breakdown occurs. Knowing how long a generator can run without an oil change, or how many hours a drill can be used in the field without being recharged will enable your team to take action before the tools they are using become hazardous.
Proactive maintenance is preventative maintenance. It anticipates possible problems before they happen and takes action to prevent hazards. Many businesses already utilize elements of proactive maintenance, from keeping machines well-oiled to keeping tools charged. Generally, proactive maintenance is done based on experience and by using the recommendations of the producer of the tool or machinery. It is important, though, to take into account the different uses a team may have for a piece of equipment, and every team is different, so every team needs to maintain their equipment at different frequencies. When you are able to track maintenance dates, breakdown dates, usage statistics, and in a way that is easily auditable, you will be able to more accurately predict when machinery and tools will be in need of upkeep.
Broken machinery or unusable tools can be both expensive and dangerous. Teaching your employees to be knowledgeable about the tools they use every day is one way to be proactive when it comes to your teams’ safety. It is essential to train workers to be aware of their surroundings, and what to look for when a machine is getting near its maintenance date. This way, front line workers can spot hazards or problems before they become accidents, and empower them to assist in minimizing shutdowns due to injuries caused by broken assets. Similarly, team members are your first line of visibility in the field because they know best how often they use an asset, and how much abuse it takes. If management in charge of maintenance is not given this essential information, they’ll be unable to plan for upkeep on those materials. Preventative maintenance, then, necessitates visibility in the field, and a team that is aware of their surroundings and educated on the tools they use.
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Being able to reliably track maintenance actions, and view the correlation between maintenance and accidents gives teams more active involvement in their safety efforts. Teaching employees about proactive maintenance on any tools they interact with, empowers them to be more involved in their safety, and enables management to be able to perform proactive maintenance on assets in the field. A knowledgeable team can also act as a line of defense to be sure equipment is kept in good working condition, which minimizes the risk of shutdowns, near misses and accidents in the future. Who better to inform management that a piece of equipment that needs proactive maintenance than the people that use it?
Having an EHS Software solution that enables teams to perform proactive maintenance by providing them with easy-to-use and reliable tools for collecting rich data in the field, and reviewing and analyzing this data in whatever way the team is used to will set your organization up for success. Once this data is collected and stored in the locations of your choice, making it easily auditable so you can view patterns related to accidents, tool maintenance, etc., shed light on how often your assets need to be serviced. Collecting data with mobile forms can be integrated easily into your team with minimal training, and dramatically increases visibility in the field. Empowering employees to report when machinery is performing poorly without interrupting their daily routine provides a valuable opportunity for team members to not only be involved in site safety, but allows for accurate tracking and scheduling of equipment maintenance.
Adding proactive maintenance to your routine will vastly decrease the frequency and severity of accidents and breakdowns in your workplace. By enabling your team to reliably track and review maintenance schedules, you are enabling them to create and maintain a safe environment. Creating educated field workers who will be able to identify problems means creating safer, more productive employees who can be confident that the tools they rely on are in good working order.