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European safe maintenance drive launches

25 June 2010

Maintenance is integral to running a safe and reliable operation. Good planning and having the right skills and tools to do the job minimises the risk to workers and the public in any task from repairing a gas main to fixing a roof.

European safe maintenance drive launches
European safe maintenance drive launches

That's the message behind a new European initiative launched in Britain on 21st June.
It is estimated that between 25 and 30% of all manufacturing industry deaths in Britain result from maintenance activity, with common causes of fatalities and major injuries including falls from height and failure to properly isolate machinery so that it restarts while being worked on.

Many of these incidents are entirely preventable, and the initiative aims to raise awareness among businesses and their workers and to help them implement simple solutions.

The European Healthy Workplaces Campaign on Safe Maintenance 2010-2011 is coordinated by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), and is being taken forward in Britain by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) along with organisations representing employers, workers and other interested bodies, including the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and EEF The Manufacturers' Organisation.

The British drive includes a new 'one stop shop' safe maintenance section of the HSE website. It features a quick and easy checklist to assess how good current maintenance practices are and offers pointers on how to improve. Free downloadable fact sheets, posters, and information on how organisations can get involved, are also available.

HSE Chair Judith Hackitt delivered the keynote speech at a launch event in London, attended by organisations including Jaguar Land Rover, The British Plastics Federation (BPF) and The Ladder Association, as well as trade unions. Delegates were given a checklist to plan how their organisations could get involved in the initiative to raise awareness and protect their workers.
Judith Hackitt said: "Maintenance work is often seen simply as a disruption to normal service, but it is fundamental to the integrity of every system and to the health and safety of workers and the public.

"Workers are often under pressure to complete jobs quickly, but there is no excuse for putting themselves and others in danger by taking short cuts.

"All organisations, irrespective of their size and purpose, need to take the opportunity to look at how they plan and manage maintenance to see if improvements could be made. With planning and the right skills it can be done efficiently and will lead to increased production and better service delivery."
Satnam Sohal, Safety Manager West Mids Ops, Jaguar Land Rover, said: "Maintenance workers are a key part of our workforce and maintenance is a function that contributes to business efficiency. This is an important initiative that will help to focus on and reinforce good working practices amongst this group of workers that are required to respond to both planned and reactive situations.

"This is an important message which should be communicated further through the motor industry and to the automotive sector to ensure a consistent approach and encourage benchmarking of sustainable good practice and progressive initiatives."

Chris Ball, Chairman, The Ladder Association, said: "The Ladder Association fully supports this latest initiative promoting the need for timely, regular and proper maintenance in the workplace.
"As much of this maintenance is likely to be carried out using ladders and stepladders, it particularly welcomes the opportunity to reinforce the need for ladders to be used safely and competently through training."

Lynn Edwards, Chair, BPF Health & Safety Committee, said: "Even though every business is legally obliged to ensure the health and safety of its employees and persons who come in to contact with their trade, it is easy to forget how intrinsic maintenance operations are to occupational safety and health.

"It is evident that the smallest failure can have drastic consequences; I see this campaign as a wake-up call to those businesses that look upon maintenance as a quick fix to getting their product out of the door.

"For those companies that realised and have benefited from an integrated management approach then this campaign will help solidify all of the hard work that they have done. We at the British Plastics Federation will continue to support and promote the campaign on Safe Maintenance."

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