As the temperatures begin to climb and nature springs to life, so does the need to repair lingering damage from winter months and tackle those larger projects. Your Alliant Risk Control Consulting, team would like to offer some advice on preparing for a busy maintenance season. This Maintenance Alert is designed to provide some ideas to assist your organization with preparing for maintenance activities while reducing potential injuries along the way. Areas that will be reviewed in this alert include:
- Current hazard assessment and standard operating procedures
- Refresher on training and communication
- Six key programs to protect your maintenance team
Hazard Assessments and SOP’s–Are they Current?
Maintenance planning must start with the proper assessment of known or anticipated hazards resulting from maintenance activities. Before the busy maintenance season gets into full-swing, it is an important time to review your current job hazard assessments (JHA’s) used to ensure they still adequately address the hazards and necessary controls for your common maintenance activities and equipment. As you plan the maintenance activities, a few items that should be reviewed include:
- Scope the task and hazards—what needs to be done and how will it affect the maintenance workers and other workers and activities in the location? When it comes to maintenance activities, there is the routine variety and the non-routine variety. For routine maintenance activities, it is important to review the tasks and identify known or anticipated hazards regularly to avoid assumptions that there are no new hazards present. For non-routine maintenance activities, a thorough planning process that includes identification of hazards, assessment of the risks, and methods to control is recommended. Consider the “what if” scenarios to reduce the chance that a risk is overlooked.
- Assess the risk—potential hazards have to be identified (i.e., dangerous substances, confined spaces, working from heights, moving parts of machinery, chemical/dust hazards), and measures need to be taken to eliminate or control the hazards to minimize the risk. Assessing the risk is an important way to prioritize risks based on exposure frequency (likelihood or probability of exposure) and severity of injury or illness. Using a risk assessment matrix can assist in ranking and prioritizing risk in the maintenance activity.
- Control the hazards—how are you currently controlling the hazards and are the controls effective? This is the question to be answered as you prepare and plan your maintenance activities. Are you using the hierarchy of controls in your decision making for control strategies? Too often training and personal protective equipment (PPE) are the primary controls that are used. While these controls can help reduce risk, they are low on the hierarchy of controls and may not be effective for moderate to high risk hazards. For the non-routine maintenance activities, using the hierarchy of controls can assist as you define controls needed based on risk assessment.
- Document the procedures—ensuring you have documented procedures that identify the authorized personnel, known or anticipated hazards, controls used to manage hazards, and steps to safely complete the task are a very important piece of the maintenance planning process. Regularly reviewing your current procedures is needed to ensure any changes in maintenance activities, equipment used, or other modifications.
Be sure all permits required to conduct work and systems to control energy are in place and verified. As employees can change in your operations, it is also important to ensure that only authorized employees are involved in maintenance activities.
Planning for the Right Level of Training Before the Work
Several safety trainings require the annual re-training of employees. Do your maintenance employees have the skills and experience needed to carry out the tasks? Are they knowledgeable on all safe work practices/procedures? Do they have understanding of what to do when a situation exceeds their competence? These are questions to consider as you evaluate the training of your employees. A few suggestions to consider for training include: