Preventative Maintenance to Reduce Workplace Hazards

SMRP will continue to work with OSHA to continually review the work environment and work practices for preventative maintenance to reduce workplace hazards. Some ways to prevent and control hazards are:

Preventative Maintenance Systems 

Good preventive maintenance plays a major role in ensuring that hazard controls continue to function effectively. It also keeps new hazards from arising due to equipment malfunction. Reliable scheduling and documentation of maintenance activity is necessary. The scheduling depends on knowledge of what needs maintenance and how often. The point of preventive maintenance is to get the work done before repairs or replacement is needed. Documentation is not only a good idea, but is a necessity in larger companies. Certain OSHA standards also require that preventive maintenance be done. For example, a preventive maintenance program is required for overhead and gantry cranes [29 CFR 1910.179].

Ensure that everyone knows how to use and maintain personal protective equipment (PPE)

The basic element of any management program for PPE should be an in depth evaluation of the equipment needed to protect against the hazards at the workplace. The evaluation should be used to set a standard operating procedure for personnel, then train employees on the protective limitations of the PPE and on its proper use and maintenance. Employees must be aware that the equipment does not eliminate the hazard. If the equipment fails, exposure will occur. To reduce the possibility of failure, equipment must be properly fitted and maintained in a clean and serviceable condition.

Ensure that hazard correction procedures are in place

An essential part of any safety and health system is the correction of hazards that occur despite the overall prevention and control program. For larger sites, documentation is important so that management and employees have a record of the correction. Many companies use the form that documents the original discovery of a hazard to track its correction. Hazard correction information can be noted on an inspection report next to the hazard description. Employee reports of hazards and reports of accident investigation should provide space for notations about hazard correction. Frequently, companies will computerize their hazard tracking system which can be as simple as adding a few items to an existing database, such as work order tracking.

Make sure that everyone understands and follows safe work procedures

Safe work practices include your company’s general workplace rules and other operation-specific rules. For example, even when a hazard is enclosed, exposure can occur when maintenance is necessary. Through established safe work practices, employee exposure to hazards can be further reduced.

Ensure there is a medical program tailored to your facility to help prevent workplace hazards and exposures

A company’s medical program is an important part of the safety and health system. It can deliver services that prevent hazards that can cause illness and injury, recognize and treat illness and injury, and limit the severity of work-related injury and illness. Medical programs consist of everything from a basic first aid and CPR response for sophisticated approaches for the diagnosis and resolution of ergonomic problems. Depending on the size of the site, this may be in-house or through arrangements made with a local medical clinic. Whatever the type of medical program, it is important to use medical specialists with occupational health training. [See OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.151(b) for first aid requirements.

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