Maintenance and Safety Go Together Like a Horse and Carriage

Special Topics in Safety Management
by ckilbourne

Yesterday, we introduced the link between maintenance and safety in the workplace. Today the Advisor reports on an interview with two safety experts who say the link is real and significant—and can have a very positive impact on your organization’s bottom line as well as its safety performance.

When maintenance is proactive, the impact on safety is significant, and savings go straight to the bottom line. So say John Kravontka, president of Manufacturing Solutions, and Rob Levandoski, vice president.

Manufacturing Solutions is a business that provides hands-on training to help manufacturing organizations improve safety, quality, and productivity. The company focuses on total productive maintenance.

Financial Impact

The financial impact of improvements in maintenance is significant. One of Manufacturing Solutions’ clients, a medical manufacturer, saw overall equipment effectiveness rise on several production lines from 56% to the high 70s. Considering that a 1% improvement can mean thousands of dollars saved, multiplying that by more than 20 can clearly yield important savings.

Another client tried ultrasound equipment to detect leaks of compressed gas used to run compressors. In addition to reducing leaks, the effort led to a quieter plant because leaks are noisy. As a result of the noise reduction, the plant was able to reduce the number of employees in its hearing conservation program.

"Using predictive technology and optimizing predictive maintenance have a huge impact on savings," says Kravontka, "but you’re saving more than money. When you put safety and maintenance together, it’s a win/win. We collect data on overall equipment effectiveness that shows as equipment effectiveness goes up, safety improves and injuries go down."

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One tactic Manufacturing Solutions uses to help its clients realize these benefits is holding focused improvement events at client companies, where equipment operators and maintenance people spend a week working closely together.

"We put the two people in a team environment with a lot of hands-on training and evaluation." Kravontka explains. "Together they maintain and clean the equipment. The operator learns a lot about maintaining the equipment, and the maintenance person begins to understand the point of view of the operator."

The event sets the stage for ongoing collaboration that improves safety and reduces costs. Most business, says Kravontka, are missing out by not encouraging this type of collaboration and communication.

If you want to explore this topic at your workplace, start by getting key safety and maintenance people together. Other strategies include:

  • Consider making your maintenance manager a member of your safety committee.
  • Review procedures for how risks are communicated and addressed. Does notification go tot the safety and maintenance departments at the same time? Or is there a lag in getting the information to maintenance that could slow down the process of removing the hazard as well as slow down production?
  • Review your policies and training procedures to ensure that job hazard analysis is part of every maintenance job regardless of its size.
  • Log and study incidents and near-misses that occur during maintenance operations.
  • Conduct through investigations, seek root causes, and share findings throughout the organization.

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The Link Between Training, Safety, and Costs

Here’s another link for you—the undeniable one between safety training and safety performance and between safety performance and cost savings.

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