Safe maintenance is good for business
Published: 08 July, 2011
The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work is the main EU reference point for safety and health at work, set up in 1996 by the European Union. Andrew Smith, head of communications at EU-OSHA, presents the Safe Maintenance Campaign.
On average, there are some 5580 fatal accidents at work in the European Union each year. Many thousands more are injured or have their health seriously harmed in the workplace. In addition, up to 20% of all workplace accidents are maintenance-related. Workers and employers need to be made aware of the risks that they face and how to manage these.
EU-OSHA aims to reduce work-related accidents by sensitizing companies and their workers about health and safety issues they are dealing with in the workplace. Our goal is to reduce the number of accidents by 25% between 2007 and 2012. In 2010 and 2011, EU-OSHA is promoting a ‘Healthy Workplaces Campaign’ focusing on the issue of ‘Safe Maintenance’. Maintenance plays an important role in keeping businesses and our economy running smoothly, but it also carries specific risks that need to be understood and dealt with correctly.
It is important for companies to get maintenance right, both from a safety as well as a cost point of view. For this reason, the Safe Maintenance Campaign is focusing on five basic rules for safe maintenance, which can be applied in SMEs and large enterprises. These are: Planning; Making the work area safe; Using appropriate equipment; Working as planned; and Making final checks. These principles form the basis for safe maintenance and should be further developed in detail based on the specific requirements of each different maintenance activity or operation.
Effective partnerships with key stakeholders are crucial for the success of our campaign. EU-OSHA can count on the support of its main safety and health network, made up of focal points in all EU Member States. At European level, we have engaged more than 40 official campaign partners from a wide array of industry federations, union organisations, NGOs and multinational companies like Toyota Material Handling Europe. Not only do such partners promote safe maintenance within their own organisations, but they also help us target harder-to-reach publics such as SMEs, who might be less aware of the Safe Maintenance Campaign or might have fewer safety resources to work with.
In 2010, Toyota Material Handling Europe joined the EU-OSHA Safe Maintenance Campaign as an official European partner. Håkan Dahllöf, President of TMHE, explains the importance of EU-OSHA’s safe maintenance campaign: “Safe maintenance is central to Toyota Material Handling Europe’s business. Internally, our organisation has more than 2000 employees at our factories in Sweden, France, and Italy who rely on well-maintained equipment to produce high-quality products. Within our network, we also have about 4500 service technicians who make about 3.6 million service visits each year, performing preventive maintenance and making needed repairs. Safe maintenance practices help our own employees work safely and effectively. Regular maintenance also helps keep our customers’ businesses running smoothly, protects their employees and their valuable investment in materials handling equipment, and ultimately helps drive down cost for their business.”
As part of the activities in the partnership, TMHE is including Safe Maintenance Campaign materials in the safety training activities at its factories and for its service technicians. TMHE is also developing additional safe maintenance training materials that will be rolled out during 2011. In this way, TMHE wants to help its own employees work safely and effectively and promote a safe working culture internally and with external stakeholders, including the many small and mid-size enterprises who are Toyota customers.
TMHE is also using its local sales and service network for the external promotion of the Safe Maintenance Campaign. In the United Kingdom, Toyota Material Handling UK has promoted the topic in its customer magazine, at the IMHX trade show and even to the children of its employees. In Sweden and the Czech Republic, customers were able to learn about the five basic rules for safe maintenance at customer events organised by local Toyota Material Handling companies in those markets. Activities are also underway in many more countries across Europe. In this way, TMHE and its network are supporting EU-OSHA’s goal of promoting safe and healthy workplaces and preventing maintenance-related accidents.
For further information please visit:
TMHE’s action site: safety.toyota-forklifts.eu
The EU-OSHA campaign site: hw.osha.europa.eu