A Safe Equipment Management System

A Safe Equipment Management System

10th November 2014

Inspection checklists for equipment are a vital tool that companies can use to enhance their safety programmes.  Many employers are tempted to create their own checklists or buy a generic checklist that covers a wide range of equipment.  This can make the equipment checks more laborious and confusing and the details are often incomplete or not fully relevant – which may lead to dangerous assumptions.  An effective safe equipment management system will:

•    Act as a comprehensive list of checks to be carried out that are specific to the equipment undergoing inspection – add guidance notes to help workers locate the right areas to look for potential problems.

•    Allow the operative to add notes or comments alongside each tick, this means that if a minor issue is spotted, a note is made so that a solution can be applied at a convenient time.

•    Be consistent in layout and design for all equipment types which will promote confidence in the staff undertaking the checks.

•    Provide a running order that is logical and specific to the equipment being checked which will save time.  An alphabetical checklist might look good on screen or on paper, but will have the person performing the check wandering round looking for the next piece of equipment.

•    Enable the user to display the findings together with the dates of the inspection and the next due inspection

•    Be flexible enough to enable the user to decide on inspection frequency depending on the findings of their risk assessments.  This means that the information can be easily disseminated and also provides the option to highlight and quarantine faulty equipment, there’s no room for complacency, however – inspection checklists rely on accountability.  If used properly, not only will they reduce equipment downtime and maintenance costs, they will increase safety in the workplace. 

The following examples all highlight just how vital checklists can be:

•    Following an accident which involved faulty equipment, the investigators will be looking for proof that the cause was operator error, rather than equipment failure – the checklist will provide the evidence they need that the equipment was well maintained and in good working order.

•    One part of the equipment is not functioning correctly but gets overlooked because the equipment still operates on a day to day basis.  However, if nobody is accountable to make sure that all of the equipment is working properly, the problem is likely to worsen and a major breakdown may occur, leading to equipment downtime and a much more expensive repair.

•    A forklift truck driver collides accidentally with a racking bay and neglects to report the incident.  The structure of the racking bay has weakened but this is overlooked and it is not on the list of equipment checks.  Over time, the racking bay weakens and eventually collapses.  As it falls, it creates a domino effect on other racking bays, destroying stock and equipment.