More than a quarter of deaths in manufacturing are a result of accidents during maintenance work, and it is also responsible for many other serious injuries and ill health. So what goes wrong?
The fact that maintenance is not directly part of the manufacturing process means that it is all too easy to forget when thinking about health and safety. Last year the main causes of fatalities due to maintenance work were: falls from height; falling objects; vehicle movements and failure to isolate machinery.
Because of this, HSE inspectors are focusing on maintenance as part of their inspection programme this year and they have identified five priority areas, namely:
· isolation, permits to work and entry into confined spaces;
· falls from height (including roofs);
· falls of heavy items; and
· asbestos / ’duty to manage’ issues related to the building's fabric
· selection and management of contractors (where relevant).
HSE are urging companies to:
· Review maintenance risk assessments
· Review competencies and equipment
· Ensure they’re monitoring that maintenance is carried out with risk assessments
· Have back up arrangements for dynamic risk assessments.
So, the risks associated with maintenance work need to be assessed and checks made to ensure that there are controls in place and that they are working. By its very nature, maintenance varies from one job to the next, so dynamic risk assessments also need to be made while the work is going on. This requires competent people, capable of realising and understanding the risks, and how to deal with them to protect the safety of all involved, including themselves.
Ask yourself, do the managers who are commissioning and managing maintenance work they have the necessary skills, training and experience? Has your equipment and machinery been properly inspected and provided with the necessary guarding? Is the guarding adequately maintained? Can the machinery be properly isolated? Do you have a clear permit-to-work system?
And remember that temporary activities associated with maintenance are also high risk, such as working at height, as well as the movement of vehicles and loads.
EEF has teamed up with HSE and TUC in order to raise the profile of the issues with manufacturers, and will be running a series of events during the autumn as part of the EU’s Safe Maintenance campaign.
The half-day seminars only cost a nominal £25 and are being held in Newport (19 October), Sheffield (4 November), Warrington (9 November), Glasgow (23 November) and Leamington (30 November).
If you would like to know more about these events visit www.eef.org.uk/Safemaintenance or book direct on 0845 293 9850.
See also HSE’s Sector Information Minute which provides the guidance to inspectors on the inspection of maintenance activities in manufacturing premises.