Maintenance risk causes 15% deaths, 20% injuries

Maintenance risk presents additional health, safety, environment and quality risks, due to disruption, communication, lockout, startup and modifications.

While maintenance is essential to ensure safe and healthy working conditions and quality products or service, maintenance work itself is a high risk activity. Maintenance also presents critical functional areas for sheq practitioners.

Maintenance work deaths

According to the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work in a survey of industrial activity logged two years ago, maintenance is associated with 10% to 15% of fatal occupational incidents, and 15% to 20% of injury or loss incidents at work.

Maintenance jobs expose workers and other operators to a wide variety of hazards with potential consequences to their safety and health, that could lead to multiple fatalities, occupational diseases, or environmental impacts like loss of containment, spillages and pollution.

Employers who do not maintain equipment properly or ignore plant safety, particularly items critical for safety like guarding, alarms, cooling, ventilation and high risk operations or hazardous materials, risk catastrophic failure.

Legal requirements for maintenance are specified in the SA OHS Act and South African Technical Standards incorporated into occupational health and safety legislation, like Regulations on moving machinery and Lifting Equipment.

Maintenance includes technical, administrative and managerial actions during the life cycle of a plant, building, machine or vehicle, intended to keep it in, or restore it to, a state in which it can perform the required functions, protecting it from failure or decline, according to a definition.

Maintenance cycle activities include:
• inspection
• testing
• measurement
• replacement
• adjustment
• repair
• fault detection
• replacement of parts
• servicing.

Sources; Association Française de Normalisation. Terminologie de la maintenance. Norme NF-EN 13306. X 60-319, AFNOR, Saint-Denis La Plaine, juin 2001. European Agency for Safety and Health at Work. CAIA SA.

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