Reliability Reliability & Maintenance Center Safety

Tie Safety To Reliability

EP Editorial Staff | February 1, 2021

Choose a single asset or process, such as this CNC laser-cutting operation, make it safe and reliable, then add assets until you’ve changed your company culture.

All injuries and equipment failures are preventable, and no task is so urgent it cannot be accomplished safely and reliably.

While management must provide a safe and reliable workplace, everyone is responsible for preventing injuries and failures and should be empowered to stop unsafe and unreliable behavior. Personnel safety and process safety are not the same. You can have excellent personnel safety and still go out of business or have a major accident. Process safety is improved by disciplined operation and maintenance practices.

Aim for zero risk

If you believe in zero instance in injuries, you must believe in zero failures and unplanned downtime. That may seem unrealistic, but it’s the first step toward setting an aspirational goal. That is where you’re going. You’re going to work really hard to get there and you’re going to do what you need to do to move in that direction. It’s important to note that operations and maintenance training should be on a par with your safety training.

Advancing reliability and safety to their full potential requires operational discipline and the tenacious use of this practice in all areas.

Start from scratch

The most common excuse for not investing in safety and reliability is “budget.” You probably think you don’t have it because you think you need millions of dollars. You don’t have to start big; just start. Choose something, any asset, and make it right. When you have that one done, choose another and make it right. Next, select a procedure. Make it right. It’s a gradual process, but over the course of a year or two you’ll start to build credibility and get leadership on board with doing more. This is about a change in mindset, better workforce engagement, higher disciplinary standards, and elevated expectations. This is followed by support that helps personnel reach those expectations. All of this is really a question of leadership.

Engage and align

Eliminating small day-to-day problems has a much greater impact on results than focusing on major failures. Engaged employees are three times more productive than average. Most organizations are not aligned, engaging, or helping their employees do a better job. Focus on the high-level goals and think at a systems level. Develop shared measures between competing groups and partnership agreements so employees are more likely to work together. Set clear goals that are reasonably achievable.

Use condition monitoring

With condition monitoring, you’ll better understand the degradation process and avoid or minimize the consequence of failure. When a squeak or a noise is first heard, it’s common to let it go too long. Eventually it becomes a functional failure and then quickly deteriorates until the asset is completely broken. The time interval between potential and functional failure is when you have to take action to plan and schedule repairs that will mitigate the failure or avoid it altogether. EP

For more information about reliability-centered maintenance, contact the experts at



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