Regular maintenance is essential to keep equipment, machines and the work environment safe and reliable. Lack of maintenance or inadequate maintenance can lead to dangerous situations, accidents and health problems. Maintenance is a high-risk activity with some of the hazards resulting from the nature of the work. Maintenance workers are more likely than other employees to be exposed to various hazards. Maintenance is a generic term for variety of tasks in very different types of sectors and all kinds of working environments.
Maintenance is a high-risk activity with specific hazards and risks and these include working alongside a running process and in close contact with machinery. During normal operation, automation typically diminishes the likelihood of human error that can lead to accidents. In maintenance activities, contrary to normal operation, direct contact between the worker and machine cannot be reduced substantially - maintenance is an activity where workers need to be in close contact with processes.
Maintenance often involves unusual work, non-routine tasks and it is often performed in exceptional conditions, such as working in confined spaces.
Maintenance operations typically include both disassembly and reassembly, often involving complicated machinery. This can be associated with a greater risk of human error, increasing the accident risk.
Maintenance activities include:
- fault detection
- replacement of parts
Maintenance involves changing tasks and working environment. This is especially true in case of contract workers. Subcontracting is an aggravating factor in terms of safety and health - numerous accidents and incidents relate to subcontracting maintenance.
Working under time-pressure is also typical for maintenance operations, especially when shutdowns or high-priority repairs are involved.
Quick Hitches on Excavators/Telehandlers
There have been a number of serious accidents involving falling buckets or other attachments on Excavators and other equipment where the quick hitch has not been correctly installed. The HSE and HSENI have prepared this Information Note that provideds guidance on this