As the former chair and current member of SMRP’s Ontario Chapter and Principal of COCO NET Inc., a member of the Aladon Network, safety is a cornerstone of my career as a maintenance and reliability trainer. It’s important to recognize events like OSHA’s Safe and Sound Week, taking place this week, August 13-19, as we all benefit when safety is prioritized in the workplace. Utilizing OSHA regulations, I have trained many maintenance and reliability professionals, including members of the New York Power Authority and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, as everything we teach is overseen by the organization.
So what is safety exactly? In short, it’s a cultural mindset. It’s an attitude and the way we must behave in the workplace. You can’t lose sight of it, because when you do, mistakes and hazards are inevitable. Unfortunately, safety is one of the biggest challenges faced in the maintenance and reliability profession. Everyone thinks they are a safe worker, yet everyone knows someone who is unsafe in some aspect.
The first assumption is often that a lack of maintenance leads to safety incidents. However, some accidents showcase the dangers of system attacks, improper operation or intervention into stable systems – human error/factors, not necessarily maintenance issues. Instead, these incidents highlight the importance of strategically managing systems correctly and consistently in addition to appropriate maintenance at the appropriate times.
Along with establishing safety parameters around current assets, industrial personnel should always understand the importance of performing Reliability-Centered Design (RCD™) on new systems before they are commissioned, operated and maintained. On existing systems, industrial personnel should always perform a risk-based Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM3™) analysis on the system before any operation or maintenance is done on the system.
If you embrace safety, espouse it into your personal life. Don’t just integrate it into your workplace, because incidents don’t just happen in the day-to-day work tasks that you perform. They can happen anytime, anywhere, for many reasons. Emphasizing safety in your life creates a healthier, more secure and productive workplace. That’s not paranoia, that’s just smart business.