How Maintenance Teams can Avoid the Top OSHA Violations

Everything maintenance teams need to know about OSHA, its regulations, compliance standards and how to avoid OSHA violations.

Here’s a scary stat: 85 health and safety violations were committed every day across the US in 2018. In total, there were more than 31,000 fines doled out for breaking the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) top 10 health and safety violations alone.

Besides the potential for accidents, injury, and death, these fines inflicted a heavy toll on the bottom line, costing businesses over $400 million last year.

Many of the top OSHA violations have a connection to everyday maintenance tasks, especially for those working in manufacturing. Another thing they had in common? They were all preventable.

With solid planning and some helpful technology, it’s easy for maintenance teams to avoid health and safety violations while creating a better health and safety program.

What is OSHA?

OSHA is the government-run organization in charge of assuring safe and healthy working conditions for millions of public and private sector employers and workers across the US. They do this by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.

What is the purpose of OSHA?

OSHA is responsible for the hefty price tags attached to noncompliance and is the organization that maintenance teams have to impress most often when it comes to health and safety audits.

OSHA regulations, OSHA compliance, and OSHA penalties

The following is a brief rundown of the rules and responsibilities mandated by OSHA and the impact of breaking these regulations.

What are employers responsible for?

Under OSHA law, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace for their workers. Employers must provide workers with a hazard-free workplace and must follow all OSHA standards. Employers must find and correct all safety and health problems, first by changing working conditions, like switching to safer chemicals, and then by providing protective equipment.

Besides the potential for accidents, injury, and death, OSHA violations inflicted a heavy toll on the bottom line, costing businesses over $400 million last year.

Other guidelines that employers must follow include:

  • Prominently displaying official OSHA requirements, OSHA citations, and injury and illness data.
  • Informing workers about hazards in a language they can understand through training, labels, alarms, and other methods.
  • Keeping accurate records of work-related injuries and illnesses.
  • Performing tests in the workplace, such as air sampling.
  • Providing the required personal protective equipment at no cost to workers.
  • Not retaliating against workers for using their rights under the law.

These are some examples of the broad policies employers at production facilities need to follow. However, there are many OSHA regulations that apply to specific industries or in certain regions. Some examples of these standards include providing fall protection, ensuring safety in confined spaces, putting guards on dangerous machines, and providing respirators to employees.

What rights and responsibilities do workers have?

Workers also have a responsibility to attend training, ensure they report unsafe work, and follow guidelines set out by employers and OSHA. In addition to their responsibilities, workers also have several rights under OSHA laws, including:

  • The right to file a confidential complaint to have their workplace inspected.
  • The right to receive copies of the results from health and safety tests and monitoring.
  • The right to participate in an OSHA inspection and speak in private with the inspector.
  • The right to file a complaint with OSHA if they have been retaliated against by their employer.
  • The right to file a complaint if punished or retaliated against for acting as a whistleblower.

How are OSHA standards created?

OSHA standards-setting process is a multi-step activity that relies heavily on public engagement. New standards can be recommended either by OSHA itself or through third-party petitions from organizations like the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, state and local governments, and labour representatives.

After deciding to move forward with a new standard, OSHA often asks the public for their feedback and insight. After considering all information and testimonies, OSHA develops and issues a final standard that becomes enforceable.

What happens during an OSHA inspection?

When OSHA finds employers who are in violation of the regulations, inspections are initiated without advance notice by compliance officers. Here’s how the on-site inspections usually happen:

  • The compliance officer presents their credentials.
  • They explain why the workplace was selected for inspection and describe the inspection process, including walkaround procedures, employee representation, and employee interviews.
  • The compliance officer and facility representatives walk through the workplace, inspecting for hazards.
  • The compliance officer talks with the employer and employee representatives about their findings.
  • If no hazards or OSHA violations are found, the inspection is over. If an inspector finds violations or serious hazards, they may issue a citation and/or fine. A citation outlines methods that can be used to fix a problem and a deadline for correcting the issue, as well as the date by which the corrective actions must be completed.

What are the fines for OSHA violations?

Fines for non-compliance of OSHA regulations can vary based on the seriousness of the violation and the organization’s record and the industry. However, OSHA has outlined maximum fines, which for 2018 include $13,260 for minor and serious violations and $132,598 for willful or repeat violations.

The most common OSHA violations

Below are the 10 OSHA violations most frequently committed by workplaces in 2018:

OSHA ViolationNumber of violations in 2018
Fall Protection – General Requirements (Standard 1926.501)7,270
Hazard Communication (Standard 1910.200)4,552
Scaffolds – General Requirements (Standard 1926.451)3,336
Respiratory Protection (Standard 1910.200)3,118
Lockout/Tagout (Standard 1910.147)2,944
Ladders (Standard 1926.1053)2,812
Powered Industrial Trucks (Standard 1910.178)2,294
Fall Protection – Training Requirements (Standard 1926.503)1,982
Machine Guarding (Standard 1910.212)1,972
Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment – Eye and Face Protection (Standard 1926.95)1,536

How maintenance teams can prevent OSHA violations

Here are a few tools and techniques maintenance teams can use to steer clear of violating some OSHA regulations. Each of these tips can be implemented through maintenance management software, such as a CMMS.

Hazard communication

It’s never easy to tear yourself away from a job when your to-do list is a mile long. Then again, when you don’t make time for health and safety tasks, it can result in a huge fine. Over 4,500 companies faced this exact situation in 2018 after they violating the OSHA’s hazard communication standard by failing to provide proper hazard training and maintain the necessary data sheets.

OSHA is also responsible for the hefty price tags attached to noncompliance, and is the organization maintenance teams have to impress most often when it comes to health and safety audits.

Maintaining records and providing health and safety training is often a hassle, even if it’s extremely important. Having an efficient method for storing employee information can go a long way in saving you time and helping you stay compliant. Create employee profiles for everyone on the maintenance team. On each profile, list the training that person has, the dates they completed training, and the training they still need. Make sure to note deadlines for certification renewals on each profile. Create a notification system so both you and the employee are alerted about any training that is about to expire. Lastly, use these profiles to communicate any hazardous situations or changes in policy to all staff.

Lockout/tagout

Lockout/tagout violations ranked as the fifth-most-common breach of OSHA regulations during 2018, even with it being standard procedure across the maintenance and manufacturing world. Facilities were cited for failing to implement an energy control program and to provide training.

Energy control programs help maintenance staff avoid being injured by the massive amounts of hazardous energy that is often stored by equipment. Although many facilities have an energy control program, they are often not implemented properly.

One of the biggest obstacles to policy implementation is a lack of accessibility. Technicians are extremely busy and are often overwhelmed on a daily basis. If they are working on an asset, need to conduct a lockout/tagout and don’t know the proper procedure, it’s not likely that they will spend valuable time looking for the information. Making an energy control program document available digitally and accessible through a mobile device eliminates this problem, is a factor in the successful implementation and helps facilities avoid a costly OSHA violation.

Fall protection – training and general requirements

Companies were handed over 9,000 fines for inadequate fall protection in 2018, with these violations scoring top spot and eighth place on the OSHA’s list. The most common rules that were broken were failing to provide sufficient training and proper protective equipment.

Training your whole workforce might be the end goal of your fall protection plan, but it might not be realistic in the short term. However, there are a few ways employers can better manage their existing pool of trained maintenance staff to avoid violating OSHA regulations. You must be able to cross-reference work orders with staff who are certified (and who have proof of certification). The best way to do this is through a digital maintenance work order system. This system can tell you who is available and the best person to do the job, so no one is working at heights without the proper training.

Equipment for fall protection often includes harnesses, guardrails, anchors, and other, larger pieces. These items need to be maintained and stored properly. That is why a well-built inventory management system is a must for safety and to avoid OSHA violations. The ability to track where parts are stored, their history of use, and how often they’ve been maintained is crucial. It ensures that workers know where to find the proper protective equipment when they need it and that they know it will be in optimal working condition. Having a digital inventory system makes this information more accessible and creates a more efficient process.

Machine guarding

Machine guarding was another common OSHA violation in 2018, averaging 5.5 infractions per day. Inspectors cited companies for point of operation and for guards that were not attached to machines.

It’s easy to assume this violation can be avoided by simply walking around your facility, installing guards where needed and training staff to always use them when necessary. However, this isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it issue. It requires an ongoing effort to ensure guards are installed and maintained properly. A guard may rust over time, diminishing its effectiveness. An employee may remove a guard for a project and not replace it properly or at all. That is why you and your maintenance team must be diligent about machine guarding.

One way to ensure consistency with machine guarding at your facility is through automated work orders and maintenance triggers. Determining a maintenance trigger for each guard will help you plan an inspection, repair, or replacement well ahead of time. For example, a certain guard may be slated for replacement every three months. These maintenance triggers can then be scheduled using an automated work order system to ensure you’ll be alerted of upcoming maintenance or inspection for machine guards so tasks don’t fall through the cracks and leave you vulnerable to citations or fines.

Personal protective and lifesaving equipment

The last entry on the OSHA’s list of top violations is one that can apply to many maintenance activities and can have a huge impact on safety. There were over 1,500 instances of facilities failing to provide personal protection equipment (PPE) and lifesaving equipment or failing to ensure employees used them in the right situation.

PPE can vary from job to job in a facility. One maintenance task may require an individual to wear hearing protection while another may call for a dust-blocking face mask. It can be difficult for staff to remember what PPE is associated with which job, which means tasks are not always completed in the safest way (or in accordance with OSHA regulations).

Solving this problem can be as easy as attaching a checklist to each maintenance task or asset that outlines the required PPE. Not only will this standardize PPE practices at your facility, but it also reminds the staff what they should be doing. If the checklist is available in a digital format, it is even more accessible to staff, which means that the protocols are more likely to be followed.

Source: https://www.fiixsoftware.com/blog/maintenance-avoid-top-osha-violations/

A Match Made in Heaven – Choosing The Right Maintenance Strategy for Your Assets

Maintenance strategy can be complicated. Most people agree on what types of maintenance strategies exist, but that’s where the consensus ends. It’s rare to see eye-to-eye on what those strategies look like in the field. That’s no surprise considering the number of factors that impact the debate: Cost, staff size, geography—the list goes on and on. But figuring out which strategy is best for an asset is not a nice-to-have, it’s essential. So we dove into this tangled mess of strategies to sort it out.

Step 1: Know the different types of maintenance strategies

Finding the right type of maintenance strategy for an asset starts with speaking the same language. We don’t need to agree on every little detail of what each strategy means, but we do need to be starting from the same spot.

Reactive maintenance/No maintenance strategy

Reactive maintenance is the mad scramble to fix a machine after it breaks down. It’s like firefighters rushing to put out a fire, only there’s no truck. Or hose. Or water. It’s also called emergency maintenance, breakdown maintenance or simply, having no maintenance strategy.

Run to fail maintenance

Run to fail maintenance (RTF) is a deliberate choice to let an asset fail before repairing it. A plan is in place ahead of time so the asset can be fixed or replaced without causing extra delays or costs. It’s like letting a light bulb burn out while having a dozen spares and a ladder ready to fix it right away.

Corrective maintenance

Corrective maintenance is any task that corrects a problem with an asset. We’re reserving this type of maintenance for smaller, non-invasive tasks that happen before a machine reaches full failure, like making a fix during a routine inspection. Imagine changing the oil in your car and noticing the tires look a little flat. Pumping up the tires is classic corrective maintenance.

Routine maintenance

Routine maintenance is any task done on a planned and ongoing basis to identify and prevent problems. Routine maintenance rarely requires specialized training, skills, or equipment. The daily safety checklists many machine operators complete is an example of routine maintenance.

Preventive maintenance

Preventive maintenance (PM) is maintenance regularly performed on a piece of equipment in working condition to reduce the risk of it failing. There are two main types of preventive maintenance:

  • Time-based preventive maintenance is when tasks are scheduled on an asset at a certain time interval, such as the first of every month or every seven days.
  • Usage-based preventive maintenance is when work is scheduled based on the operation of equipment, such as after 1,000 miles or 10 production cycles.

Condition-based maintenance

In condition-based maintenance (CBM), the performance of an asset is monitored to determine when maintenance needs to be done. CBM uses certain indicators, like increased vibration or heat, to catch the point when failure begins, but before it leads to a breakdown.

Predictive maintenance

Predictive maintenance (PdM) uses condition-monitoring tools and techniques to track the performance of equipment, identify defects, and help you fix them before failure.

The difference between predictive maintenance and condition-based maintenance lies in measurement and timing. CBM uses real-time performance data to point out a problem after a machine begins to fail. On the other hand, PdM takes all information into account (past, present, and future) and offers an ideal time for maintenance before any failure, however small, occurs.

Prescriptive maintenance

Prescriptive maintenance (RxM) takes predictive maintenance to the next level. It uses condition monitoring and machine learning tools to predict when to do maintenance, but it also lays out exactly what kind of maintenance to do to help that piece of equipment perform better for longer.

Maintenance strategies in action on a variable speed transfer conveyor

Reactive maintenanceThe conveyor breaks down with no plan in place to fix it
Run to fail maintenanceThe conveyor is allowed to run until it breaks down with a plan to fix it
Corrective maintenanceA technicians notices that a part on the conveyor is misaligned during their weekly inspection and realigns it
Routine maintenanceA machine operator inspects the conveyor before their shift to ensure it’s safe and free from obvious defects
Preventive maintenance (Time)The conveyor is inspected for potential failure every 10 days
Preventive maintenance (Usage)The conveyor is inspected for potential failure every five production cycles
Condition-based maintenanceMaintenance is scheduled on the conveyor when vibration crosses a certain threshold
Predictive maintenanceSoftware says that failure-level vibration on the conveyor belt will occur in 30 days
Prescriptive maintenanceSoftware says that failure-level vibration on the conveyor belt will occur in 30 days and repairing it will require swapping out a certain part

Planned maintenance vs. scheduled maintenance

Scheduled maintenance is any work that’s put in the calendar, given a deadline, and assigned to a technician, whether that’s done a day or a year in advance. It’s the who and when of a task. Planned maintenance is the what, where, why, and how of a task. It doesn’t always establish the exact date and time of work, but you know how to execute the work when the time comes.

Let’s look at run to fail vs. reactive maintenance for an example. In both cases, you don’t know when maintenance is going to happen until a machine breaks down. They’re both unscheduled maintenance. However, RTF is a deliberate choice. You know failure won’t impact production. You’ve assembled the parts, people, and processes to fix the asset quickly and without spending too much. It’s planned. Reactive maintenance has none of that foresight, making it unplanned.

Here’s a handy way of remembering how to classify the types of maintenance strategies:

types of planned maintenance, types of scheduled maintenance

And here’s how much of each maintenance strategy is planned and how far in advance you can schedule them.

types of maintenance strategies by ability to plan and schedule them

Step 2: Know your variables

Every facility is different, which is why it can be maddening to talk about maintenance strategies so generally. Every asset, technician, and business is unique, and what works for one maintenance-teams-can-avoid-the-top-osha-violations/” >maintenance team may not work for another. That’s why understanding what makes your facility tick is crucial.

Costs

Before you decide on maintenance strategies, take stock of a few key financial elements:

  • What are you spending, all-up, on maintenance in general and for each asset?
  • What’s the biggest maintenance cost for each asset? Is it downtime, parts, labour, or something else?
  • How much would it cost to change the strategy you’re using on an asset?

Assets

Organizing your asset knowledge means it’s easier to analyze and share. There are a few useful questions that can help you build a 360-degree view of your assets:

  • How would you rank your assets by criticality?
  • Which assets are underperforming against key metrics?
  • Which assets can you collect accurate data from?
  • Which assets are important to safety and compliance?

People

A good maintenance strategy is only as good as people who execute it, which is why the people factor should be taken into account when building your asset maintenance strategy. There are a few questions that can help you assess the baseline of your staff:

  • How can you get your team home safely every day?
  • How many people do you have on your team and is there room for growth?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of each person, and what training is necessary?
  • How does your team spend their time?

Step 3: Choosing a type of maintenance strategy for your assets

Let’s clear the air right now:

“There’s no single best maintenance strategy,” says Stuart Fergusson, Fiix’s senior manager of sales engineering.

“There is a ‘worst’ strategy and that’s reactive maintenance, but the best strategy is the one that helps equipment function at its best, safely, and without too many costs.”

Of course, that’s easier said than done. There are all those unique, colliding, and constantly changing factors for you to consider. But by looking at some major elements, such as costs, safety, and downtime, we can chart where each maintenance strategy falls and give you some tools for assessing the best maintenance strategy for each of your assets.

Cost to implement and manage vs. Instances of downtime

Every minute of uptime gained comes at a cost. The question is whether that cost is worth it. Our first chart can be a starting point for answering that question. It helps you measure your uptime goals against your budget and identify where resources can be used for better returns.

types of maintenance strategies by downtime and cost to implement and manage

Cost to implement and manage vs. Asset criticality

A good dose of prescriptive or predictive maintenance is often enough to cure unnecessary downtime. But you know the catch: Those strategies require expensive training and technology to do well. That’s where asset criticality comes in. This chart helps visualize where to dedicate your time and money to ensure the most important machines are also the most reliable.

Types of maintenance strategies by asset criticality and cost to manage and implement

Planned percentage vs. Data requirements

Planned maintenance is like sleep to exhausted parents with a newborn: You can never have enough. But planning takes data to be effective and efficient. The chart below is a run-down of how much data is necessary for each maintenance strategy to be successful.

Types of maintenance strategies by asset data required and amount of planning possible

Planned percentage vs. Safety and compliance

Increased safety is often tied to planned work, because the more you know, the better you can avoid risks. This chart is all about how each strategy allows you to plan and identify risks early so you can reduce the likelihood of accidents or increase compliance on a group of assets.

 types of maintenance strategies by safety and amount of planning possible

Ideal asset profiles

ReactiveRun to failRoutineCorrectivePM (Time) PM (Usage)CBM, Predictive, Prescriptive
CriticalityNoneNone to lowLowLowModerate to highHigh to essential
Cost to maintain assetNoneLowLowLow to moderateModerate to highHigh
Cost of downtime on assetNoneLowLowLow to moderateModerate to highHigh
Amount of data required from assetNoneLowLowLowModerate to highHigh
Safety risk and required complianceNoneLowModerateLow to moderateHighHigh

Slow and steady wins the asset management race

Getting the right combination of maintenance strategies takes time. No one gets it perfect on the first try. No one goes from reactive to prescriptive maintenance in a single leap. Finding a formula that works is a journey. It could start with doing PMs on a handful of critical assets and lead to a well-balanced strategy that touches every machine. The in-between can last years. What will get you there are data-driven decisions. The result is a facility that runs with fewer interruptions, a healthier bottom line, and a more efficient maintenance team.

Source: https://www.fiixsoftware.com/blog/essential-guide-to-comparing-types-of-maintenance-strategies/