Proper maintenance is an important part of workplace safety. We’ve heard this many times before, and I wrote about it in my post Training and equipment maintenance key to safety.
But it’s also critical to keep safety in mind while doing maintenance and repairs. This topic came up recently when I was talking with WorkSafeBC research coordinator Tracey Bates about what’s on today’s safety radar. Tracey pointed out that a lot of WorkSafeBC’s full investigations involved workers being killed or injured while performing repair or maintenance tasks.
I followed up on the conversation and asked Tracey for more information. She sent me a link to Safe maintenance in practice, published by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, who ran a Safe Maintenance campaign back in 2010–2011.
The report describes initiatives in the workplace that show how to manage safety and health risks associated with maintenance. Tracey also sent me links to these incidents WorkSafeBC investigated.
I also wrote about a young worker who died when he was run over by a logging truck he was trying to repair last year. See Tragedy a reminder to secure vehicles before repairs and maintenance for more details on this very sad incident. In Lockout lacking, guard removed, I wrote about a man in England who was adjusting the rollers on a machine that makes metal shelving components from steel coil. The machine started accidentally and his high-vis vest and jacket were sucked into the rollers.
These examples serve as tragic reminders of what can go wrong during maintenance and repairs, in any industry. It can be so frustrating when something isn’t working properly — especially when it’s unexpected and we are under pressure — but we need to keep safety top of mind no matter what.