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Preventative Maintenance Q&A with Industry Expert, Kevin Coulon

Screen_Shot_2014-12-11_at_9.55.00_AMBelow, you can find all your burning preventative maintenance questions answered by industry expert, Kevin Coulon. For  more information on preventative maintenance, check out our services page here, or download our guide on 5 pieces of equipment that need routine inspection in the link at the end of this post.

Give an example on a program that you've implemented in the past that has saved an organization moneym how you've done it and how you saved the money?

In the last few months, we've implemented a preventative maintenance inspection program for, not a wastewater tank but it was actually the feed lines to the wastewater tanks. And why we implemented this is, a facility kept having emergency response from a material that was being spilled from the lines that were being used for the acid and the Sodium Hydroxide and it was filling the secondary containments. And it was costing a couple of thousand dollars each time an emergency was called in and what we did was stepped back and ask if we could come in and take a look at the actual feed lines coming from the acid and base to the wastewater tanks.

And by doing that, we found out that the tubing used was actually not meant for acids or bases and it will deteriorate very quickly. So, what we've done is help them build that into their program and now we provide monthly oversight and they're doing weekly oversight to make sure that the lines are still intact. They're doing their regular routine maintenance on the tank but we've now implemented a secondary kind of overlay inspection to prevent these emergencies coming through.

Who should be the person conducting these inspections?

 The inspections at your facility would be based on the person's title and what actually they're doing at that particular time. If you're the only person that's running all the facilities and all of the EHS, if you have someone that could help you and take over some of the smaller inspections that you train and oversee them, it should definitely be somebody that's familiar with the equipment and then if you find out that the facility doesn't have someone that's familiar then with some customers, they've looked outside and they've actually hired an environmental company.

We've been hired for some of them to come in but we have the expertise of doing the inspections. But training is definitely number 1 for the person that would be doing each particular type of inspection.

How often and how should they be maintaining their eye wash and showers?

That's actually a debate across multiple agencies. With ANSI, actually recommend that the eye wash should be flushed weekly similar to the safety shower. In some cases, people go through and they're constantly flushing them and it runs out of time and some facilities have actually started doing them monthly. When you're looking at it, it really comes down to what the water looks like when it comes through. The ANSI standard does say weekly but weekly can be very tough to get done.

If an OSHA auditor was to come through and you had a program that showed that you do inspect them monthly and they come clean each time, you really wouldn't get a hassle. However, if you were going through and you weren't inspecting them monthly and an OSHA auditor came through and it came out brown, then you have an issue.

The other thing that comes into play with eye wash and safety shower inspection and we start to see this a lot with areas of new construction is that the water starts to come through brown when there's a lot of construction in the area. So, it really comes down to at least doing them monthly but it is recommended by ANSI to do them weekly.

Is flushing and inspecting eye wash safety showers the same thing? Can we flush weekly and just inspect monthly?

You could flush weekly and inspect monthly. And by inspection, it could be making sure that as the picture I had earlier, you don't have somebody putting a tree in the front of it and making sure that it's clear. A good thing to take away with eye wash and safety shower is knowing the dimensions where it should be a 16 inch radius from the center of the safety shower and a 6 inch radius to clearance from the eye wash.

And what a lot of people start to do is take the yellow and black delineation tape and measure out that 16 inches and put the tape down so they can do an easy monthly inspection and in some cases with the flushing and the inspection, sometimes the plumbers are going around and they're doing the flushing and then maybe EHS is doing the inspections but that is something that if you show that you have a program that you're flushing them weekly and inspecting them monthly that would pass with an honor.

Does it make sense to have one person issue the inspection and another to actually do the inspection to validate the program?

To have a second level to make sure that it is done if you have that ability in your facility would definitely help because you have somebody that's maintaining to making sure that they're done. And also having multiple people if you're going through with your flushing... say, you're flushing an eye wash or you're doing fire extinguisher inspections and you have a thousand fire extinguishers to get through. Having multiple people that can do it and maybe one person overseeing it will help from someone just going through and writing their initials and doing an actual inspection.

But in some agencies and some facilities, they don't have the resources but if you did, I could definitely see a plus in having that where you're making sure that people are being helped to doing the inspections.

How do I convince management to buy into this inspection-based preventative maintenance program?

What we have done with a bunch of agencies is when we come through and we do our facility care walk, is we itemize the results and by level of regulatory best management and what they're currently doing. So, kind of like a stop light, a red, yellow and a green. And the red is regulatory and part of taking away from the regulatory is knowing what the potential fines are if you're not doing it and also knowing what the potential cost is of what happens if I had a release and it got to the environment. And why these preventative maintenance should be in place?

And taking that and going across a whole year where if you're on a budget, let's say a whole program could be, throw a number of $15,000 out there and one spill could be $30,000. And having that ongoing would prevent that moving forward. And just, what we found success for a lot of the clients that we've done this walk through where they can either incorporate it into their own program and get the budget or they've reached externally to get help with their preventative maintenance program is taking the regulations and showing the issues and providing the feedback on what would happen if an auditor came in or what is our potential risk if we don't do this. And when you start to put the dollar signs next to it, most management looks at it as a fine is way too much so we should start doing this. It's worth doing the inspections.

To learn more about optimizing your preventative maintenance schedule, download our guide on 5 Pieces of Equipment You Didn't Know Require Routine Inspection.

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