How to Prevent Accidents When Performing Maintenance on Equipment
A number of safety precautions can be introduced and followed in order to minimise the risks of an accident occurring during maintenance procedures. These include:
Planning - Like most things in life, a failure to plan can lead to unforeseen problems later on, and health and safety is a prime example of this. By thoroughly planning and performing risk assessments before any work takes place, preventative action can be taken before somebody gets hurt.
Permit to work systems - For particularly high-risk work, making use of a permit to work system will help to minimise the risks that are present on work which can easily kill or severely injure a person. All those involved with the permit and anyone likely to be affected by it needs to have received permit to work training so that they fully-understand how the system operates and who is responsible for what.
Isolate and lock off equipment and electricity supply - Doing this will prevent the electricity supply or machinery being restarted before workers are clear of it. Individual padlocks for each worker to which only they have the key for will greatly improve the effectiveness of this locking off for preventing accidental switching back on.
Ensure only competent personnel perform the maintenance - Those workers who have not had suitable safety training or are not qualified to carry out repairs or maintenance on the piece of equipment in question can be a danger both to themselves or others, for example if the equipment malfunctions when it resumes use.
Prevent access to the area to those who should not be there - Whilst workers may be following permits or method statements, anybody who accidentally or deliberately accesses the area may be in danger. Introducing measures such as site perimeter fencing and clear warning signs can help keep people out.
Provide any necessary protective equipment and safety devices - Even after eliminating as many risks as possible, many maintenance jobs will require workers to wear suitable personal protective equipment (PPE). This can include items such as gloves, breathing apparatus, radiation suits etc. It is the responsibility of managers and employers to ensure that this equipment is provided and is in good condition.
Finally... common sense - Without this, even the most stringent safety precautions can be rendered useless and ineffective.