No matter how well we run maintenance programs, there is always a chance that things can go wrong. Things fail and they can cause a lot of harm. If it happens that someone is hurt, the environment is harmed, or regulations are broken, you could be in trouble. You will probably find yourself in an investigation. Ideally, it will find that you’ve done everything to be a responsible steward of the assets, people and environment. If not, then it could lead to costly and time consuming legal action.
Some things to consider …
Where your physical assets are concerned there are three main categories of root failure cause:
- System or equipment was under-designed for the service,
- The asset was operated beyond its capabilities, and/or
- The maintenance needed to ensure safe operation was inadequate or not performed.
All of those are under your control as the owner of the asset.
Here are a few things to think about:
- Was the design of the asset that failed sufficiently robust?
- Did the asset’s design capabilities provide sufficient margins above where it is being operated?
- What the asset being operated within the parameters of its capability?
- Did operators know how to operate the asset correctly?
- Were they trained on the asset’s operation?
- Did they know how to spot when the asset was not performing correctly?
- Was it being maintained properly?
- Do you have a proactive maintenance (PM) program?
- Are the PM’s scheduled regularly?
- Are you following the program faithfully?
- If not, then are you at least following it on your critical equipment?
- How did you determine what is most critical? (HINT: safety and environment better be in your decision criteria)
- Do you have anyone on staff looking after equipment reliability?
- How did you determine the right PM and frequency? Manufacturers’ recommendations are not the best you can do.
- How do you know the PM program is working?
- Is there more that you could have done to avoid the failure that happened?
- Is there more that you could have done to avoid the consequences of that failure?
We how a lot about how things fail, how to forecast pending failures, and how to mitigate consequences of failures. Ignorance isn’t a good defense when something goes wrong. If you have a PM program it shows that you have some basic understanding of the principals. When something goes wrong, that PM program had better be a good one, and you better be able to show that you followed it faithfully.
Asset owners and operators:
You want a solid defense in our increasingly litigious business climate. Ideally you do the right things long before the failures and their undesirable consequences occur. We can help.
If you are prosecuting a case you want to know where to attack.