Regularly planned warehouse shutdowns allow time for businesses to conduct in-depth housecleaning and general maintenance of equipment. Safety is often overlooked when most companies conduct these necessary shutdowns. The task that is implemented during shut down operations can be non-routine in daily operations, which presents a higher risk of different hazards than what is usually present during those normal operations at your plant. Some safeguards for companies to pay particular attention to during various facility shutdowns include:
Elevated Work Surfaces
Many companies make the mistake of having normal employees to do cleaning services, painting, and other services may at high heights (ladders, scaffolds, high platforms). Never do this! Always ensure that only employees with proper supervision and education are performing these tasks to ensure these workers are aware of falling hazards associated with this type of work. Education and awareness will largely reduce these hazards. Safety Consultants can evaluate all job sites prior to the task being initiated to ensure which solutions will work best.
All of those hard-to-reach areas for cleaning and upgrades are commonly completed during shutdowns. If those spaces are big enough for a worker to enter, aren’t intended for continuous occupancy and have limited means of entry and egress, then they meet OSHA’s definition of “confined space.” Insufficient oxygen or vapor that creates an inhalation hazard is a potential hazard that these workers often face while conducting assignments in confined spaces. As a requirement, a permit is required before any workers enter a confined space. It is important to remember that no matter how experienced an employee is with conducting such tasks that training is conducted prior to the scheduled shutdown. This will help ensure their safety and increase their awareness of confined space hazards.
Many citations from OSHA occur from the use of temporary power sources such as extension cords. Shutdowns are a great time to provide more permanent electrical wiring solutions. This means accessing electrical panels, pulling wires and installing outlets. Certified electricians know about the hazards of working with electrical power sources as well as how to best protect from electricity-related incidents. Others working in the area while these upgrades are happening must be aware of power cables and other electrical hazards that cannot be guarded against at all times.
Even though the plant isn’t performing normal operations – and entire systems may be offline – many non-routine maintenance tasks may be happening simultaneously. This makes the control of hazardous energy sources just as important as it is during daily operations. Review standard lockout procedures for each piece of equipment that will be maintained, upgraded or otherwise worked on during the shutdown. Be sure to include lockout procedures with each job assignment. Contact a safety consultant in the event that your company does not have a proper lockout/tagout procedures.
Utilizing plant shutdowns to improve processes, perform safety training, and perform preventative maintenance helps to minimize downtime and in many cases, increase production capabilities. Preparing for these events ahead of time and evaluating non-routine safety hazards prior to starting work will help prevent injuries and keep projects on track. Contact XL Pro Safety today for more information on how XL Pro can help develop, plan, implement custom-tailored shutdown processes and procedures.