The disastrous events of West Fertilizer Company are a troubling reminder that safety hazards can go unchecked in high-risk work environments, in this case for nearly three decades.
But even with increased enforcement of U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) workplace safety laws under the Obama Administration, there would still be a lack of auditors to perform the hundreds of thousands of inspections required throughout the country.
True workplace safety comes from internal audits and unflagging preventive maintenance.
Computer maintenance management systems (CMMS) have long been recognized for automating preventive maintenance tasks on operations equipment to improve asset uptime, performance, longevity, labor efficiency, capital expense reduction and more.
It can also play a vital role when it comes to safety compliance and liability protection with OSHA.
CMMS can act as a company’s internal inspector and ensure worker health and safety.
A Giant Linen Rental Company Keeps Inspectors At Bay
At Angelica, one of the largest textile and linen rental companies serving the U.S. healthcare market, the Chicago plant completes a dozen health and safety related tasks per week to comply with OSHA and be prepared for unannounced inspections.
Angelica uses CMMS at each of its 27 plants, which house industrial washers and dryers, ironing and folding machines, boilers, fire pumps and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) units.
The company delivers more than 750 million pounds of clean laundry to healthcare facilities nationwide.
CMMS allows all operating and maintenance manuals and OSHA guidelines to be linked to Angelica’s equipment records.
Users can define inspection tasks, populate a PM calendar and set up automatic reminders to technicians assigned to complete the tasks.
This supports uptime and a lean operating environment, while satisfying compliance requirements.
There are even add-on Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) solutions to handle safety, audits, incidents and inspections while fully integrating with work orders, PMs, assets and equipment.
This OSH lets users create, track, review and monitor equipment, as well as safety programs for drills, evacuations, job safety analysis (JSA), historical safety meeting notes and material safety data sheets (MSDSs).
Angelica’s Chicago plant uses CMMS to oversee these specific OSHA safety standards, including:
- Lock out/tag out: The system issues a notification to do an annual review
- Extension cord inspections: The system issues a monthly reminder
- Fire pumps: The system keeps track of fire pump testing schedules and history
- TIER II: The system issues a checklist reminder
- Machine Guarding: The system issues a daily reminder to check safety switches
- MSDS book: The system also serves as a “global” calendar reminding operations staff to purchase all supplies and to do an annual review of the MSDS book
Blood borne pathogens: Follow and enforce exposure control procedures within the plant, especially concerning maintenance in the soil, sort and wash areas
- The system CMMS issues a reminder to clean the soil residue after workers separate towels, washcloths, bed sheets, pillow cases, blankets, thermals, gowns, operating room bed linens, scrubs, etc., to avoid infectious disease.
Chris Giordano, the Chicago plant’s chief engineer, states that when OSHA auditors pay a visit, the CMMS arms maintenance with a clear record of repairs, providing valuable proof of compliance.
“OSHA auditors care about a trackable history of what was done on a piece of equipment; when it was done; who did it; how often it has been inspected. For OSHA, if it’s not documented, it didn’t happen,” Giordano said.
CMMS To Keep Facilities Safe, Supplement OSHA
To support safety compliance in high-production environments, PMs generated in CMMS can reduce the frequency and severity of corrective maintenance.
Fewer breakdowns, especially unexpected ones, lead to a safer environment.
Historical work orders, with emphasis on problem and cause codes, can help a maintenance department become proactive and avoid repeat issues.
With random visits from OSHA auditors, CMMS can give maintenance and safety managers the ability to show strong record keeping of preventive maintenance on demand, in report form, sorted by asset, repair technician, safety standard, etc.
CMMS can maintain safety information, including procedures, safety notes, emergency notes, etc., for all assets.
This information can be included on any work order or referred to in a hand-held version.
Safety inspection and compliance and setting up a PM schedule should be part of any routine maintenance plan, regardless of whether organizations must comply with OSHA or other regulatory bodies.
With an integrated OSH solution, CMMS can act as a company’s internal inspector and ensure worker health and safety, and help to avoid devastating events like the West Fertilizer Company explosion.
Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group, producer of Bigfoot CMMS. Lachance has been developing and perfecting the company’s CMMS solution for the maintenance professional for 20 years. Contact Paul at Paul.Lachance@BigFootCMMS.com.