Manufacturing facilities depend on their production machinery to stay in business. Investing in Preventative Maintenance (PM) and Predictive Maintenance (PdM) strategies can help. But did you know that these maintenance strategies can also help prevent injuries? When equipment goes down unexpectedly, beyond any initial associated injuries, it creates additional unsafe situations through emergency maintenance.
Emergency maintenance is considered the minimal repair work that is necessary to get equipment up and running again, sometimes without focus on safety. When equipment fails suddenly, it typically starts a series of decisions fueled by panic rather than rational thinking with the underlying goal of getting production running as quickly as possible. This often leads to unsafe behaviors such as:
When employees are rushing to do their job, they may overlook key details. In emergency maintenance, this could be forgetting to lockout the equipment, leaving a machine guard off after the repair is completed, or not notifying the affected employees that the equipment is about to restart. When rushing, employees might also try to lift heavy loads without taking the time to get assistance putting them at risk for an overexertion injury.
Additional hazards exist when someone is assigned to complete the repair who isn’t qualified, trained, or even familiar with the equipment. Manufacturers wouldn’t typically assign someone to a task without appropriate knowledge, but in emergency maintenance the repair task is often assigned to the employees that there at the time of the breakdown. Without proper training, employees can make a mistake that can injure themselves or someone else.
Finally, emergency maintenance often leads to completion of non-routine tasks. When employees aren’t used to doing something, they can overlook injury hazards. For instance, employees that don’t typically work from heights, may find themselves working at an elevated position to access the equipment and may not consider the need for fall protection. Injuries associated with non-routine tasks may not occur frequently, but they are often severe.
By using PM and PdM strategies including equipment analysis based on vibration, temperature, sound, or positioning, manufacturers can help determine when equipment is likely to reach a failure point. This allows for:
In this way, with preventative maintenance not only are breakdowns averted, but emergency maintenance is also reduced. Injury prevention through planning.