Factory managers and maintenance specialists have a lot to keep track of when it comes to routine machine maintenance. Holding to precise schedules, keeping diligent records, and staying current on each equipment piece’s status are all paramount at maintenance time.
While paying close attention to each machine’s needs, it’s crucial not to overlook the techs’ safety needs whilst servicing those machines. Just like facility standards require machine operators to wear protective gear, maintenance professionals need to maintain their own safety precautions.
Here’s a look at a few important manufacturing safety aspects that apply to maintenance.
Qualifications are essential
First and foremost on the safety standards list is to keep in mind the maintenance professional’s qualifications. OSHA Standard 1926.1429 makes it very clear: Only individuals familiar with and qualified to operate the specific machinery should perform the machinery maintenance. If a tech isn’t well-versed on how it works, they shouldn’t be repairing or maintaining it.
Always wear the proper attire
Some fairly obvious examples to avoid when dressing for maintenance work exist. Baggy clothing or anything that leaves large swathes of exposed skin — such as shorts or tank tops — pose immediate risks. Avoid footwear without proper traction and jewelry as well.
Perhaps more important than what not to wear is what maintenance professionals should be wearing. This will vary by job and task, but most often is contains some measure of the following:
- Eye protection — such as goggles or a welder’s mask
- Hearing protection — such as earplugs or ear coverings
- Head protection — such as a hard hat
- Gloves with varying attributes — such as shock protection or extra grip
- Footwear with proper features — such as rubber soles or steel toes
Again, this depends heavily on the nature of the maintenance. For example, electricians performing electrical maintenance will have different protective attire from techs working on pneumatic or mechanical repairs.
Support workers’ safety
Maintenance safety in the manufacturing environment goes well beyond just the person performing the service. Maintaining a safe environment is crucial to all workers’ wellbeing. As you prep for repairs, take a moment to consider the nature of the work site.
- Are hazards labeled, such as high voltage or corrosive?
- Does adequate space exist to perform maintenance tasks?
- Is the machinery or equipment properly shut down?
- Do workers have the proper tools to complete the job?
- Is the work area cordoned off from activity?
Staying apprised of the environment surrounding repairs will keep maintenance techs safe as they focus on the task at hand.
A word about preparedness
Maintenance should be routine and free of major issue. That said, things don’t always go according to plan and accidents happen. Do your workers know what to do in the event of an emergency? Proper training and situational awareness are important to teach to every repair tech or team. Making the right move in a dangerous situation can help get that situation under control faster.
Machine maintenance is important; so is worker safety. With the right foresight and training, manufacturers can have the best of both worlds: Machinery that stays in tip-top shape thanks to a well-trained team of careful maintenance professionals.