Maintenance is a High Risk Activity.  

Good maintenance reducing the physical hazard of noise. | Legal Obligations | Provision of Appropriate Equipment | Solving Noise Issues through Maintenance

 In addition to the risks associated with any working environment, maintenance operations involve some specific risks.

These include working alongside a running process and in close contact with machinery. During normal operation, automation typically diminishes the likelihood of human error that can lead to accidents. In maintenance activities, contrary to normal operation, direct contact between the worker and machine cannot be reduced substantially - maintenance is activity where workers need to be in close contact with processes.

Maintenance often involves unusual  work, non-routine tasks and is often performed in exceptional conditions, such as working in confined spaces.

Maintenance operations typically include both disassembly and reassembly, often involving complicated machinery. This can be associated with a greater risk of human error, increasing the accident risk.

Working under time-pressure is also typical for maintenance operations, especially when shutdowns or high-priority repairs are involved.

Because maintenance is carried out in all sectors and workplaces and involves a wide range of tasks, it is associated with a great variety of hazards.

Chemical hazards such as:

  • asbestos, glass fibre
  • vapours, fumes, dusts (e.g. asphalt fumes, diesel exhaust, crystalline silica) and
  • solvents

Biological hazards such as:

  • bacteria (e.g. legionella, salmonella) and
  • mould and fungi

 Psychosocial hazards such as:

  • time pressure
  • shift work, weekend work, night work, on-call work and irregular working hours and
  • working together with staff from contractors - several contractors - communication issues

Physical hazards such as:

  • noise, vibration
  • excessive heat and cold
  • radiation (ultraviolet radiation, x-rays, electromagnetic fields)
  • high physical workload and
  • ergonomics-related risks, due to poor design of machinery, process and work environment from the point of view of maintenance; difficult to reach the objects to be maintained - strenuous movements (bending, kneeling, reaching, pushing and pulling, working in confined spaces)