Four steps to improve safety and reliability
Companies looking to improve their safety plan should aim high and focus on things they can immediately improve to gain credibility.
The best way to catch something in the act is to be watching at all times. Routine thermography inspections on critical equipment, such as motor control centers (MCCs) and switchgears, have become safer and more productive with advancements in continuous monitoring.
Employers are responsible for providing a safe and reliable workplace, but everyone is responsible for upholding the integrity of the workplace standards for preventing injuries and failures. You can have excellent personnel safety and still have a major accident. Safety is improved by disciplined operating and maintenance practices. Take the following steps to learn how you can achieve higher workplace safety and productivity standards today:
Step 1: Aim for zero risk through training
Start by shooting for the moon. When your goal is to aim for zero risk, you’ll land amongst the stars. The first step towards setting an aspirational goal is to set one that seems unrealistic. The team needs to work really hard to get there and you’re going to do everything you can to move in that direction.
It’s important to note that the operations and maintenance training should be on a par with your safety training, as typically they are not. Getting both reliability and safety to their full potential requires operational discipline and the tenacious use of this practice in all areas. Never stop improving or communicating. One of the leading breakdowns of safety in any organization is complacency.
Step 2: It’s not in the budget? Focus on the little things
The most common excuse for not investing in safety and reliability is “budget.” You probably think you don’t have it because you think you need millions of dollars. You don’t have to start big just to start improving somewhere. Pick something, any machine, and make the maintenance routine right. When that’s done, move onto the next piece of equipment. Solidify that safety and proactive approach and pay it forward.
It’s a gradual process but soon you’ll start building enough credibility to the leadership team to look more into investing in safety and reliability. This is about a change in mindset, a change in the approach to engage in the workforce and set higher disciplinary standards for the workforce itself, higher expectations, and then supporting them meeting that expectations. All of this is really a question of leadership.
Step 3: Set goals for engagement & alignment
Eliminating small day-to-day problems has a much bigger impact on results then focusing on the major failures. Engaged employees are three times more productive than average. Most organizations are not aligned, engaging, or helping their employees do a better job. Focus on the high-level goals and think at a systems level. Develop shared measures between competing groups and partnership agreements so you are more likely to work together. You have to have clear goals that are reasonably achievable.
An environment that is highly productive and efficient is a culture where employees are safe, secure, and cared for. A safe and healthy workplace not only protects workers from injury and illness, but it can also lower injury/illness costs, reduce absenteeism and turnover, increase productivity and quality, and raise employee morale.
Step 4: Embrace continuous condition monitoring
With condition monitoring, the goal is to understand the degradation process to avoid or minimize the consequence of failure so we’re monitoring. The ability to identify faults before they occur saves money when unplanned outages, service interruptions, and equipment failures are avoided entirely with predictive maintenance monitoring.