When working a trade or in a hands-on environment, it’s vital that the equipment and machinery which enable you to perform your job is regularly maintained. Doing so ensures that your business is meeting general workplace health and safety requirements, and decreases the chances of accidents occurring.
Indeed, irregular maintenance doesn’t just present dangers to yourself and your employees, but may extend to apprentices, visitors, and even members of the public. By creating a safe atmosphere through up-to-date maintenance, you’ll not only avoid potential issues down the line, but can increase productivity knowing that your workplace is in a reliable and functioning state.
How ‘regular’ is regular?
The regularity with which you should conduct maintenance depends on varying factors. Firstly, consider what your manufacturer’s recommendations are, as they’ll required to understand your machinery better than anyone. This can include information regarding rate of deterioration, maximum recommended loads, or expected lifespan. Secondly, be conscious of your operating environment, as certain conditions can speed up deterioration or weaken machinery much faster than would typically be expected. For example, high and low temperatures, corrosive materials in the air, or simple weathering (e.g. your machinery might not be sheltered indoors) could all contribute to an earlier-than-usual maintenance check.
Call upon your own knowledge
You will also want to call upon your own experiences when contemplating how soon your next maintenance check should be, as these are things known only to you and could prove essential. Start by casting your mind back over your machinery’s history and consider how often (and how intensely) it’s been used. Have you had an influx of business in the past few months? Have work quotas and necessary output increased, resulting in increased usage? Or how much strain has your machinery been put under? For example, if you run an auto shop and operate vehicle hoists, how often do they lift heavy 4WDs as opposed to, say, lighter two-door vehicles? Whilst your manufacturer is generally the ideal source for providing maintenance information, don’t overlook your own user-experience if it can help inform your decisions.
In the event that you plan to administer your own machinery fixes, and can do so legally (i.e. a registered professional is not required), be sure to do so with workplace safety in mind. If your manufacturer has provided details regarding maintenance of your machinery, follow the provided steps directly and carefully. Be sure to shut down your machinery prior to maintenance in a way that a reconnection can’t be established inadvertently. If the device is question houses stored energy or pneumatic pressure, then make sure it’s release. For example, a forklift should have its forks lowered to the ground prior to maintenance; likewise, a rotational device should be stopped and brought to a stationary position.
In some cases, it might be impossible to conduct maintenance in a completely safe environment. A walk-in freezer, for instances, can’t always be shut off lest the produce inside be spoiled. As such, employ common sense and extra safety measures where needed; work at ground level (if possible) to avoid falling from height, wear protective clothing when dealing with exposed wiring, and employ handrails and anti-slip surfaces if the situation calls for securer footing.
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