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The Importance of Plant Maintenance

14th June 2018

Plant maintenance is essential to the management of an effective and safe working facility. The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) insists that plant and equipment is maintained to ensure that it is deemed safe to use and that all operations carried out are done in a safe manner with minimum exposure to hazards.

Risk Assessments and Scheduled Maintenance

Employers should install a preventative maintenance plan through informative risk assessments and scheduled planned maintenance on site that happens on a routine basis. This will ensure that the equipment is safe for workers to use and reduces the possibility of a costly breakdown or major accident occurring. Businesses should also have a procedure in place that allows workers to report any damages or faults so that a systematic log can be monitored and the company has evidence of any maintenance work that has been carried out.

To assess the risks of machinery in the workplace, the maintenance team should be aware of and follow the below steps outlined by the HSE:

  • Identify the hazards
  • Identify who could be harmed and how
  • Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions
  • Record any findings
  • Review the assessment

By introducing these procedures and systems into the business, the environment will become a much safer and more reliable place of work as there will be fewer breakdowns and less risk of danger.

Accident Prevention

It is important to implement accident prevention measures into the workplace as it is required by law that businesses provide their workers with a safe place of work. The safety of other non-maintenance employees who work within the operational area should be taken into consideration by mounting the necessary signs and barriers and positioning operatives at key points of the equipment if necessary to limit the number of people within the hazardous area.

Safe Isolation

Maintenance work should be carried out after the power has been turned off so it is vital to establish a system that ensures the plant is stationary and any power supplies have been isolated. Should the work be taking place near any overhead electrical conductors then the power should again be shut off beforehand, ensuring that machines have been correctly locked in order to prevent the power accidentally turning back on. Plant and pipelines that contain pressurised gas, fluid or hazardous material should also be isolated by locking off the isolation valves before maintenance begins.

Any major maintenance work should be carried out outside of the busy working hours and, if possible, completed during the site's shutdown week.

Other Factors

Businesses should establish whether or not a specialist contractor is required to carry out any maintenance as it should always be executed by someone competent, of whom has the required skills and knowledge to complete the work to a safe standard. By using the manufacturer's operating and maintenance instructions, equipment can be maintained regularly and properly, especially if any of the features are safety-critical.

Not only does effective maintenance make equipment more reliable, it also increases productivity, cost effectiveness and return on investment. Keeping the equipment in a good working condition will ensure the optimum uptime of equipment and facilities at the lowest possible cost since poorly maintained machinery will inevitably result in a costly repair or rebuild. Therefore, it is in the business' best interest to follow a strict and thorough maintenance plan in order to maximise the profit-making capacity of equipment and safety in the workplace.

For more information about maintaining your equipment or to find out what training courses we can offer, contact us on 01603 627428 or look at our open course calendar.