American workers face safety risks on the job every day. Asset managers are keenly aware of the role equipment maintenance plays in safety and how important it is to use a methodical approach to maintenance.
In 2018, some 85 health and safety violations were committed per day in the United States, resulting in 5,250 deaths, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). And the risks were largely preventable.
As you continuously refine your asset strategy, you most likely keep OSHA guidelines in mind and follow best practices in equipment maintenance. However, remember that compliance is a practical process, while safety is always the essential goal.
Top OSHA violations
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has identified the most common injuries among various industries. Every organization must be aware of its unique risks for safety’s sake first and foremost but also for the business case: Fines associated with violations can be costly.
In 2018, safety and health violations resulted in more than 31,000 fines levied on businesses for the top 10 OSHA violations that year alone — at a cost of over $400 million. Along with the high costs, injuries certainly cause significant disruptions in the workplace and to workers’ lives. They also compromise morale, productivity, turnover, and the company’s reputation in the market.
For 2019, the top 10 OSHA safety and health violations cited in U.S. worksites were:
- Fall Protection (6,010 violations)
- Hazard Communication (3,671 violations)
- Scaffolding (2,813 violations)
- Lockout/Tagout (2,606 violations)
- Respiratory Protection (2,450 violations)
- Ladders (2,345 violations)
- Powered Industrial Trucks (2,093 violations)
- Fall Protection Training Requirements (1,773 violations)
- Machine Guarding (1,743 violations)
- Eye and Face Protection (1,411 violations)
Reduce OSHA maintenance violations
All employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace, as mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. OSHA states that no worker should ever be injured, become ill, or die for a paycheck. Establishing a safety program in your workplace based on fundamental best practices is one of the most effective ways to protect your workers and your company.
And preventive maintenance is a good place to start. Most asset managers work closely with safety engineers to ensure that reducing downtime never leads to reducing safety measures.
Safety compliance programs foster a proactive approach to finding and correcting job site hazards before they cause injuries. With the right safety program in place, companies can promote a culture that anticipates safety risks and protects workers from those risks.
Important best practices include worker training, proper equipment maintenance, and good documentation with an enterprise asset management (EAM) software.
EAM software systems can facilitate your ongoing effort to prevent worker injuries and avoid the financial and operational costs of OSHA violations. Asset managers largely use EAM platforms as a means to document compliance for equipment maintenance, but that’s just the beginning.
1. Establish proactive equipment maintenance
OSHA regulations require employers to create preventive maintenance strategies to ensure that equipment works as it should. Work orders should prompt regular equipment inspections, and checklists can help identify potential issues before incidents occur.
Equipment maintenance programs must be re-evaluated often because equipment ages, job sites evolve, and business priorities change. Your preventive maintenance strategy should start with these elements:
- Notifications that prompt regularly scheduled preventive maintenance
- Checklists to ensure maintenance was done correctly and thoroughly
- Support materials for technicians such as manuals and asset history
- Documentation for inspections and corrective actions
- A system of continuous quality improvement based on real-world experiences
2. Deploy EAM software support
The right equipment management software system can support worker health and safety programs that meet regulatory standards. An advanced EAM platform can help prevent OSHA maintenance violations in a variety of ways — such as by providing automated notifications that cue teams to conduct safety-related tasks or by generating reports that highlight asset safety data. Other EAM benefits include:
- Automatic inspection reminders
- Searchable records of equipment maintenance
- Support materials for OSHA guidelines
- Data reports that help document compliance
3. Train employees
A safe workplace begins with a well-trained workforce. Hands-on education provides several benefits, including the technical skills required to perform jobs safely and the know-how to recognize potential hazards. Here are just a few of the training topics that should be included in employee safety programs, according to OSHA:
- First aid
- Emergency action plans
- Fire prevention plans
- Management of hazardous materials
- Machine guarding
- Fall prevention
- Use of personal protective equipment
- Compliance guidelines
Always keep records of your training efforts. In the event of an injury, documentation can often supply the answer to the first question an incident investigator will ask: “Did the employee receive adequate training to do the job?”
4. Communicate often
Establish open communication channels that allow technicians to point out potential risks, and take their messages seriously. Inconsistent policies can cause workers to question the credibility of a safety program overall, resulting in poor engagement. Here are a few critical elements of safety communication from OSHA:
- Include managers, supervisors, workers, and contractors in safety discussions
- Share information on workplace hazards and controls
- Offer safety education in multiple languages
- Encourage discussion of concerns, suggestions, and reporting of injuries, incidents, and hazards
5. Provide personal protective equipment (PPE)
PPE includes a wide range of safety gear, such as eye protection, masks, earplugs, hard hats, respirators, reflective vests, and more. According to OSHA, all PPE should be:
- Maintained, cleaned, and reliable
- Comfortable and safe to fit all employees
- Properly stored and disposed of
Attach appropriate PPE to each maintenance task using your EAM platform. For example, one maintenance task calls for an individual to wear hearing protection, while another requires an N95 facemask to avoid contaminant inhalation. However, it can be difficult for technicians to remember what PPE is associated with which job.
A modern EAM system can remind technicians of the PPE required for specific tasks before they begin. It will also track the associated PPE inventory and create a notification when a new purchase order is needed.
Manage your inventory of PPE strategically. You always want to have extra supplies, but you also don’t want to compromise your budget by overstocking. An advanced EAM platform can help you balance your PPE inventory and track your total inventory value in real time.
EAM software supports safety
EAM systems can help prevent certain risks by ensuring that the right technicians are assigned to the right jobs, based on their skills, experience, and training. The right system lets you cross-reference work orders with staff members who are certified in a certain skill, for example, so no one is working on tasks without the proper training.
Additionally, modern EAM systems provide flexibility to redeploy work orders quickly when teams are delayed or when certain workers are off the job. A system with drag-and-drop scheduling can speed up the triage process and help improve uptime even on your busiest days.
Every technician knows they should always use the right tool for the job at hand. The same is true for parts and materials when it comes to equipment maintenance. If your EAM platform has barcode scanning capabilities, use the scans to ensure the right parts are being associated with the right assets to maintain safe equipment operation after the maintenance is done.
The larger your inventory of parts and materials, the more important it is to distinguish between similar items. Sometimes the visible difference between one part and another is subtle or difficult to notice by packaging alone. A barcode scan helps avoid human error and the common tendency to just grab the first part visible on the storage shelf, whether it’s the right part or not.
As you revisit your maintenance program with an eye toward OSHA safety requirements, remember that your EAM platform can make the process easier. Documentation, scheduling, and inventory management are some of the most important ingredients in your safety strategy.
ManagerPlus offers powerful, lightning-fast enterprise asset management software to help organizations improve their equipment maintenance and safety strategies. Schedule your personalized demo today.