Computerized maintenance management systems can enhance safety in the maintenance field, offering EHS professionals another tool to help create a safer workplace.
Establishing a robust maintenance strategy is critical for optimizing facility safety.
Companies invest in advanced technologies to simplify, standardize and improve the quality of maintenance work using digital solutions, such as Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS). The technology provides multiple features for managing maintenance workflows, personnel, facility layouts, inventory, and critical maintenance data — all resulting in improving safety features for employees.
CMMS solutions collaboratively work with other enterprise solutions and are applicable across industries and facilities. The market for this technology is expected to reach $1.72 billion by 2028, indicating the technology’s significance in enhancing asset productivity and safety standards in facilities.
Modern maintenance operations are anchored in data. Technicians require equipment operating metrics to create maintenance schedules, allocate budgets, and quantify asset effectiveness.
Safety professionals should learn how these automated maintenance solutions work and ways to utilize different sets of maintenance data, collected and analyzed by the systems, to improve workplace safety and automate risk analysis. These systems keep detailed logs of all maintenance activities, including the mean time between repairs; parts used; and the requester, approver and implementer of preventive or corrective maintenance. They also keep records of deferred or incomplete tasks.
These solutions can significantly enhance safety in the maintenance field, thus reducing workplace accidents and illnesses. Here are five ways maintenance professionals can leverage CMMS technology to improve workplace safety:
1. Tracking Compliance with Safety Regulations
Companies must comply with multiple statutory regulations that dictate safety and mandatory operation standards targeting production assets, personnel, and operating procedures. Supervisory authorities conduct frequent audits and inspections to verify compliance. Proper maintenance is vital for enhancing facility and asset compliance with multiple regulations, such as emission levels, energy consumption and security.
CMMS systems assist maintenance teams in tracking all the maintenance tasks required to achieve the required and/or recommended safety and compliance standards. Technicians incorporate mandatory inspection tasks into routine maintenance schedules. The systems generate alerts when these inspections are due as well as allocate the tasks to the available technicians.
The system tracks and standardizes the implementation of these tasks. It contains standard templates that allow maintenance teams to document inspections following industry standards. The maintenance team sends all safety reporting and inspection data to a centralized data management system for approval and storage. Field technicians can report incomplete maintenance activities, emerging safety risks, and inadequate inspection tools and spare parts.
Companies can share regular inspection data with relevant regulatory authorities for evaluation and verification. Centralizing data allows remote access to it, meaning senior management can establish measures to rectify impending compliance issues before external auditors visit facilities. Safety professionals can use computerized maintenance data to track and enhance facility compliance with environmental, health, and safety regulations.
2. Standardizing Maintenance Safety Procedures and Policies
The scale and complexity of maintenance activities vary from one facility to another. On a daily basis, maintenance technicians are exposed to a number of hazards, such as unguarded machinery, fires, falls from heights, trips, hazardous emissions, and electrical hazards. These hazards impede the quality and rate of maintenance work completion. Some equipment parts are hard to reach, increasing maintenance workloads and injury risks.
CMMS solutions can reduce maintenance workloads and exposure to these hazards. Companies can develop standard operating procedures (SOP) and host them on the CMMS platform. The SOP contains checklists, lock-out/tag-out (LOTO) measures and sequential procedures that technicians must complete before performing physical work. The system also holds comprehensive maintenance manuals that technicians can refer to when maintaining assets as well as standard technical documents to record maintenance.
Safety professionals working with maintenance staff can periodically evaluate the relevance of existing safety policies and procedures. They can compare how the standard procedures impact maintenance work completion, accuracy and safety. This allows safety professionals to develop more effective policies that guarantee maximum employee and equipment safety.
These solutions assist safety personnel to remotely update and share additional safety information. This means that policy changes can be made faster and cheaper, ensuring everyone reads from the same page regarding the company’s latest safety standards.
3. Automating and Optimizing Maintenance Schedules
A faulty asset is prone to breakdowns and failures that can injure operators, release toxic materials and energy into the environment, or initiate fires and other workplace accidents. Some companies experience frequent asset breakdowns accompanied by heavy maintenance workloads due to a lack of a proper maintenance schedule.
Implementing appropriate maintenance measures reduces the severity and frequency of these failures. Proper maintenance also extends an asset’s life, increases efficiency, and improves safety.
Companies can enhance operational safety by investing in an automated maintenance solution. The technology stores information about each asset, its maintenance requirements and maintenance frequency. Manual maintenance management in a facility with multiple physical assets can be challenging, as planning can take longer than expected and can lead to inadequate or deferred maintenance.
In contrast, computerized technology automates maintenance scheduling and work allocation. Managers can easily automate the creation and distribution of maintenance schedules; prioritize and approve work orders; and store, retrieve and analyze work tickets.
By optimizing maintenance schedules, companies ensure all assets receive the appropriate preventative and corrective measures as well as avail enough personnel to perform these tasks. Safety personnel receive timely alerts regarding scheduled and emergency maintenance, helping them to prepare the necessary safety signages, assign safety supervisors to various maintenance teams, distribute personal protective equipment (PPE), and prepare the appropriate safety checklists.
4. Tracking Maintenance Risks and Automating Safety Audits
Maintenance technicians are regularly exposed to a range of risks in their line of duty. Some safety risks are recurring; others happen once and can result from poor work practices, faulty tools or deliberate violations of safety rules.
Technicians must report all safety-related incidents irrespective of their severity or consequences. Some safety risks may arise due to outdated maintenance procedures and technologies, incorrect tools and PPE usage, or failure to conduct a comprehensive root cause analysis.
Automated maintenance technologies can help record and track safety risks and incidents across the facility. Companies distribute the technology through handheld devices, and technicians can remotely log these issues without leaving their workstations.
A CMMS solution accommodates audio, video, and text content, so maintenance teams can provide additional evidence to explain risk levels and inform other team members. The company can maintain a comprehensive database of all maintenance risks across the facility. The data is vital for automated safety audits and for developing relevant safety training programs.
Safety audits take time to complete since they are the result of combining information from different sources. Safety personnel with access to CMMS data can gain insights into common safety issues faced by maintenance personnel in the field, which can help them quickly evaluate the effectiveness of incident-reporting systems. These solutions use standard safety reporting templates, making it easier for safety auditors to determine the cause, propagation and impact of several maintenance-related risks.
5. Enhancing Shop Floor Layouts for Better Maintainability
Maintenance safety risks do not emanate solely from work practices and machinery. Facility layouts and designs can impact maintainability and workplace ergonomics, as it is more difficult for technicians to work in a poorly-organized workspace.
All machinery and safety signs should be visible from a distance, walking paths should be marked, confined spaces well-lit and ventilated, and emergency exits and facilities should be visible and easily accessible.
When uploading facility data to a CMMS solution, companies can also upload facility layouts. Such measures ensure everyone in the maintenance team knows where a particular asset or piece of safety equipment is located. Ergonomics and design experts can also evaluate these layouts and highlight safety risks based on the organization of the shop floor. They can compare the effectiveness of different floor layouts and their impact on the maintainability of assets.
Companies reorganize floor layouts with the acquisition of new production assets and process modifications. Safety personnel work collaboratively with process engineers and technicians to evaluate hazards and risks that impede asset productivity and equipment maintainability in order to develop friendlier layouts and eliminate safety risks.
Another Tool in the Safety Toolkit
While CMMS solutions are designed to automate maintenance workflows, they can be beneficial for enhancing facility safety, too.
Safety professionals should have some working knowledge of CMMS solutions so they can access and analyze vast amounts of maintenance data to develop more effective safety policies; promote positive safety culture among maintenance technicians; automate and simplify safety audits; and improve cross-departmental communication. These solutions can become a key tool for EHS professionals to improve workplace safety. They should work closely with maintenance personnel when conducting safety audits and to customize CMMS solutions that can help reduce and eliminate maintenance-related safety issues.
Written by: Bryan Christiansen, founder and CEO of Limble CMMS, for EHS Today.