Ensuring safety during maintenance operations with CMMS

A maintenance management tool is necessary to guarantee the safety of your teams, as it allows you to instantly pull up and share all the information about the faulty equipment.

The technician remains at the heart of the company’s maintenance management

maintenance technician security

Only maintenance personnel enjoys truly unlimited access to all parts of the company, and, if lucky, they sometimes even get to go places where no one else has: under a machine, in an electrical cabinet, in a ventilation duct, on the roof…

Most maintenance technicians, therefore, know every nook and cranny of their workplace, from the belt needed for a particular machine to the location of the differential circuit breaker that supplies the meeting room’s socket.

CMMS, an operational support tool for the maintenance technician

If the technician experiences any difficulty locating where maintenance work should occur, he has access to technical documentation, machine assembly plans, operating procedures, network diagrams, etc. from within the CMMS to help him find his way.

Maintenance actions are generally divided into 2 main families.

Actions related to preventive maintenance

In this instance, interventions are planned: the technician has already prepared his tools and retrieved the spare parts needed for the job according to the work order instructions, and takes advantage of a planned stop.

Actions related to corrective maintenance

The context is different here because this time the technician is intervening on a broken-down machine that, more often than not, is supposed to be operating. As a result, the maintenance operator has to act urgently, despite not being prepared, in a hostile environment, as a dysfunctional machine in operation is inherently dangerous, while frustrated production staff or the hierarchy may add to the stress.

Sometimes, the objective of a maintenance intervention can be simply to restart production, even with a downgraded mode of operation, and wait for the next planned stop for production.

The maintenance technician subject to safety risks

A maintenance technician will thoroughly make sure the machine he repaired is safe for use by his production colleagues. But what about his own safety?

A study by AFIM (Association Françaises des Ingénieurs et Responsables de Maintenance) reveals that maintenance professions are much more exposed to danger than other populations in the company. Data indicates that the number of serious accidents is 3 times higher than the national average while mortality is 8 times higher.

How to ensure the safety of maintenance operations?

maintenance technicians Awareness of this situation has been growing for many years. It is undoubtedly insufficient and will remain so as long as accidents persist.

Maintenance technicians are often compared to firefighters. One of the first rules for firefighters is to ensure their own safety before considering the safety of others. This should also apply to maintenance workers.

Awareness alone is not enough to change the situation, as serious accidents have persisted over the years. Nowadays, other safety precautions have been implemented, such as regulatory controls, prevention plans, or the new FX 60400 standard on equipment safety which will see the light of day in the coming weeks.

However, even if these changes do improve safety conditions, one-size-fits-all approaches will always fail to account for every company’s specificity and, consequently, will not suit some firms. It is sometimes up to the businesses themselves to ask the right questions and provide the answers to ensure the safety of its personnel:

  • Does the technician who is tasked with the maintenance intervention have the necessary training and certifications?
  • Can he/she safely intervene on his/her own ?
  • Is it more important to lose an hour of production or to risk the life of an employee ?
  • Do we have the best preventive plan to limit troubles operations that put the business and technicians at risk?
  • Is knowledge sharing optimized to the degree that, even if a member of the maintenance team is absent, the intervention can still be carried on safely ?
  • Do subcontracted personnel follow the same rules as in-house technicians?
    Information regarding these answers must be centralized to set up maintenance activity in optimal safety conditions..

For safer maintenance operations with CMMS

The implementation of a CMM can help with:

  • The centralization of all the information related to equipment, (operating procedures, safety instructions, parts lists, etc.), so that every technician can access it easily and quickly;
  • The verification of both in-house and external operator’s ability to complete the task (from their skills, qualifications, …);
  • The implementation of an effective preventive maintenance plan, allowing technicians to work in safer conditions;
  • Knowledge-sharing including records of past interventions and feedback from colleagues’ previous experiences with a piece of equipment.

It is simply unrealistic to expect technicians to go consult safety instruction on a loose page in a binder before every intervention (are we even sure the binder has been put back in its place?). On the other hand, if they use mobile CMMS, instructions will be permanently accessible from their tablet or smartphone.

Moreover, technicians are much more likely to know about previous interventions on the equipment and other changes, for example in the electrical supply to the machine, that may impact their safety. Lastly, when a technician checks a spare part’s inventory status on their mobile CMMS, he is in fact actively reducing the time spent on those dangerous-looking ladders, and, therefore, reducing some more risks to his safety.

Examples like these abound as many CMMS features help limit risks in the activity of the maintenance personnel, whether directly or indirectly.

Lastly, the implementation of a CMMS is always incomplete without some form of training. Training must show consideration over the safety of people, and promote awareness on this subject. Maintenance staff should remember to consistently question whether the task they are carrying out is set in the best safety conditions for them and their colleagues.

Of course, nothing will ever replace human thought and brainstorming among professionals in the quest to reduce occupational risks as much as possible. At the end of the day, CMMS are simple tools for aggregating and sharing information; they are essential, however, to help individuals make the right decision in time.

Learn more about this topic during the 2018 DIMO FORUM on March 15 in Nantes and March 20 in Lyon by participating in the workshop led by AFIM :

Safety of maintenance operations: new NF-X-60-400 standard and AFIM-INRS “SecurAfim(R)” approach

Note the dates in your agenda and register on our website www.forumdimo2018.com

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