Season's Cleanings: 5 Ways to Maximize Your Holiday Shutdown Time

We are entering the season of rest; one study indicates that employees are twice as likely to request time off in December in comparison to any other month. Your staff is taking a well-deserved holiday break, but this shutdown time doesn’t have to mean operational standstill—the holiday season is a wonderful opportunity for continued facility and institutional improvements and perhaps even hard and soft return on investment (ROI) opportunities.

Empty facilities present a unique opportunity for services to be performed safely, correctly, and efficiently—with minimal or no interruption. In fact, slowed or ceased operations present a special advantage to get things done that would be otherwise very difficult, such as catching up with deferred maintenance and cleaning project deadlines.

Shutdown Advantages

The holidays offer organizations, managers, and workers a much-needed break—meaning relatively empty facilities. This absence of people and activities in your workplace enables lots of special maintenance and cleaning activities, and productivity in addressing environmental, health, and safety (EHS) needs may help avoid future unscheduled shutdowns and interruptions.

The unique conditions of shutdown mean that:

  • Any remediation or maintenance work won’t come at the expense of productivity.
  • Conducted work will be safer. Fewer people in the workplace means fewer distractions and reduced risks when conducting dangerous or complex cleaning, repair, or relocation work. Tasks can be completed more safely and quickly than at other times of the year.
  • More gets done. Throughout the year, shutdowns typically only span a few days, a long weekend or some other abbreviated time. Depending on an organization’s policy, however, a holiday shutdown may span multiple weeks. This extended dormant period makes it easier to ensure everything that managers must get done will get done.

Cleaning Up During Your EHS Work Shutdown

The question is, what specifically should EHS and operations managers choose to do with this unique window of seasonal opportunity? Which particular maintenance or decontamination projects should take priority? When weighing the different opportunities, keep in mind the yearly shutdown means your facility will have a fresh start come January—so you want to be ready to hit the ground running in the new year.

Given the advantages of the holiday hiatus, some of the most productive year-end cleaning and service projects that will yield the most value include:

  1. Performance of tank system cleanings and shift safety support:

Tank system cleaning can be extremely dangerous if done incorrectly, without proper precautions, and certainly when a facility is in production. Total shutdown of key tank systems includes pH neutralization, stock feed material, petroleum fuel, and more. Paused operations provides the ideal opportunity to perform these tasks without interrupting daily operations—or adding unnecessary risk to the tank cleaning crew.

  1. Improvement/implementation of a chemical inventory management program:

Chemical inventories must remain active while organizations are in operation. Normal year-round activities therefore leave little time to reconcile chemical storage inventories. As such, a holiday operations shutdown is the perfect time to review these inventory programs for:

  • Expired, redundant, or useless materials requiring disposal
  • Containers that are empty or nearly empty, whose contents must be replenished
  • Data reconciliation/bar coding review
  1. Execution of inventory reduction:

Clutter is the enemy of efficiency in any industry. Luckily, a year-end inventory reduction project is a priceless opportunity to rid your workspaces of misaligned or useless materials, positioning your team for improved efficiency in the new year. Large scale lab packs, for example, require extensive vacant space where workers can segregate chemicals, stage drums, and package materials. Performing this work when research or warehouse operations are in full swing is usually unsafe—not to mention virtually impossible.

  1. Maintain and decontaminate crucial equipment:

Various machinery types, apparatus, and equipment often operate daily year-round. There are rarely pauses in work—meaning there is minimal time for crucial repair, regular maintenance, or decontamination of these important machines. In heavily trafficked spaces, where there is no opportunity to stop work, this lack of maintenance could easily mean the difference between material integrity and skewed results. Holiday shutdown is a once-in-a-year chance to perform crucial and extensive maintenance to, among others:

  • Manufacturing spaces and equipment
  • Biosafety cabinets (BSCs)
  • Fume hoods
  • Clean rooms

All this is possible without operational disruption.

  1. Relocation/decommissioning of obsolete work areas:

If you have been considering a chemical move or decommissioning of a laboratory, there is no better time to do so than during a holiday shutdown period. With inactive existing facilities, the processes of packing, monopolizing elevators and loading docks, physical transportation, and relocation are easier to execute.

Have a Partner Take Care of All This While You Relax

The holiday season is rapidly approaching. Perhaps you’re thinking you’d like to take advantage of the holiday’s opportunity to get deferred maintenance completed, but don’t have the people, plans, or gear in place. Luckily, you can still maximize your productivity by turning to a trusted EHS partner who can handle these tasks—while you relax and plan for success in the new year.

Triumvirate Environmental is one such partner. With a suite of services ranging from chemical inventory software implementation to BSC maintenance and difficult disposal projects, our passionate team is ready to overcome any challenge you may have.

Contact us today to learn more.

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