Maintenance workers are an underappreciated element of your workforce. They don’t tend to get attention until something goes wrong, and when something does go wrong, they’re expected to fix the problem and get out of the way as quickly as possible.
However, maintenance workers also face risks that are unlike any other employees. They also face a great deal of pressure, despite the fact that employee safety is directly affected by how well they do their job.
Like any other workers, your maintenance team deserves to be safe. Here are a few maintenance safety tips that you and your employees need to know.
Your first order of business begins long before your employees pick up their tools.
If you want to conduct safe maintenance work, the first step is to plan ahead.
Start by conducting a comprehensive risk assessment. You should have a good idea of any risks that your employees might reasonably face so that you can come up with reasonable measures to mitigate them.
This also gives you the opportunity to make sure that your employees have all of the tools they need to work safely, including:
- Safety equipment
- Functioning, up-to-date tools
- Permits to use lockout/tagout systems
- Resources necessary to perform maintenance
If you haven’t yet, use this opportunity to create formal safety procedures for employees to follow when performing maintenance.
Work as Planned
This will help you ensure that employees complete work as planned, whether they’re doing preventive maintenance or corrective maintenance.
This involves two steps:
- Employees must know what work procedures are expected of them
- Employees must carry out those procedures
This can be difficult when you have to perform corrective maintenance. In these cases, there’s usually a problem that has ground production to a halt, which means that the pressure is on workers to get the problem fixed.
However, even with time pressure, your employees need to use the appropriate safety procedures. Rushing to get a job done puts everyone at risk and only increases the likelihood that they’ll have to perform maintenance again soon.
Train Your Employees
To that end, you need to make sure that your employees have the right training to handle the task they’ve been given. Otherwise, how can you expect them to do the task correctly?
It doesn’t matter whether an employee has been with your company for 30 days or 30 years. Even the best, most experienced employee can make mistakes if they get complacent, and those mistakes can put all of their colleagues at risk.
With that in mind, make sure that all of your employees receive regular training and make sure to check their work periodically to see if that training was effective. If it isn’t effective, work with your employees to create training that does teach them what they need to know.
Use the Right Equipment
However, even the best procedures and the best training can be compromised if you use the wrong equipment.
Maintenance workers face unusual risks because, unlike regular employees, they may find themselves in unusual situations or in areas that aren’t designed to have people work in them for extended periods.
As an employer, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your workers have the right tools to do their jobs. You also need to make sure that the equipment is fully functional and up-to-date with the latest local, state, and federal safety standards. If it isn’t, take it out of rotation and replace it.