24 Sep 2014

Avoid the Ostrich Effect in Equipment Maintenance

In days gone by where manual labour was the only way to get a job done, scrapes and bruises were ignored and only the most serious of ailments or injuries would see a man down tools as there wouldn’t be food on the table if he wasn’t working.

In the world of today many things have changed, we have better working conditions, better laws and schemes in place that allow a worker to take paid leave if sick or off work. We have developed tools and equipment that does much of the tougher manual work for us.

So why then do we continue to ignore the signs and symptoms of an underlying problem when it comes to workplace equipment (much in the same way as we used to ignore the aches and pains) in the hope that the problem fixes itself?

We can only assume it is a short-sighted notion that, by ignoring a potential problem, they are saving money by not having to pay for ‘unnecessary’ repair bills.

So why is equipment maintenance so important to a business? Read on to find out…

1. Save Money

A short-term saving by ignoring a minor fault is likely to develop into a more serious and more expensive/time consuming repair at a later date. Of course you could take savings further: If an accident does occur due to faulty equipment you could also see the need to buy new replacement equipment; see insurance premiums rise; encounter fines & compensation claims from the HSE & injured parties.

2. Improve Safety

Faulty equipment has the potential to cause accidents. What may seem at first glance to be a minor fault can in reality lead to a worker being injured. News of accidents and injuries due to faulty equipment can also damage company morale and have a negative impact on the public perception of the company.

3. Improve Productivity

By keeping equipment in good condition you reduce the potential of downtime. When equipment is out of action, productivity levels can drop significantly. Let’s be honest, the likelihood is that equipment will break down or fail at the most inconvenient of times in keeping with the rules of Sods Law!

4. Comply With Legislation

Workplace equipment is covered by the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) and places duties on employers/employees to ensure that equipment is suitable, maintained and used without risks.

5. Improve Employee Morale & Confidence

When employees know that management are looking after their health & safety, and providing the right tools for the job in hand then they will inevitably feel a sense of worth. An employee that is constantly battling with faulty equipment and breakdowns will soon fall behind schedule and become disillusioned – after all if management don’t care – why should he?

Regular checks are your first - and best - line of defence against unwanted breakdowns. Ensuring your operators stick to a simple routine before using the equipment enables any problems to be identified early.

So alright I’ve listed 5 pretty compelling reasons to put a Safe Equipment Management System (SEMS) in place but what about the cost and time needed to implement this?

Without doubt there are systems that will need extensive training sessions and expensive software or hardware to monitor and control maintenance programmes. If you search the internet you will find plenty of examples of electronic gadgets and consultants that can drain your time and resources faster than the initial equipment fault ever could.

But if you look carefully you can also find solutions that are easy to implement, are simple to use and understand allowing a quick roll-out across the company, and offer exceptional value for money.

Now if you are still reading this blog I guess you have a genuine interest in what I’ve had to say and as such I hope you won’t mind a little sales pitch to end with.

Good to Go Safety was designed and developed to provide a simple, effective and affordable solution to equipment maintenance. We think we’ve succeeded! The system is also flexible to meet your needs – allowing you to carry out daily, weekly, monthly or ad-hoc inspections of a wide range of equipment types.

A tag is attached and a checklist used to carry out equipment specific checks. Once completed the checklist is inserted into the tag to display one of two messages – either “Do not Use” if a fault is found (allowing it to be quarantined until repaired) or “Good to Go” if all is present and correct. A duplicate copy of each completed checklist is also created and retained for management records.

It really is as straight forward as that!

Hopefully I’ve made you think a little more about how you currently operate and who knows; maybe one or two have been roused to pull their head out of the sand? If so, visit www.goodtogosafety.co.uk to find out how we can help.

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