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Electrical Testing
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Tip of the Week: Missing from Maintenance Procedures

Keep track of issues not covered in preventive maintenance steps, and decide if those should become part of regular procedures.

Well-written maintenance procedures don’t cover every contingency. Instead, they are designed to ensure the same maintenance steps are performed each time. One goal of training should be to ensure those steps are performed the same way every time.

Because those procedures are lean, they occasionally leave holes. An electrician performing preventive maintenance (PM) may notice something not covered by the PM. If the electrician simply fixes it, then there’s no history and the problems just continue.

So these “outside the PM” issues must be reported. They include such things as poor lighting, poor workmanship, housekeeping issues, National Electrical Code (NEC) violations, visible damage to conductors, and even squeaky hinges on cabinet doors.

What should management do about the reported problems? In one plant, every time an issue arose in the course of a PM, another item was added to the PM procedure. This eventually made each PM procedure so cumbersome nobody would use it.

Management finally came to terms with this issue. They stripped out all of the “we found this problem once” steps that were added. Then they considered what from this list could be mentioned in related training. They also created a list of items to mention in the daily safety talk (only one item per safety talk).

A suggestion here is to add one line to each PM: “Other issues not covered by the PM.” Next to this have a checkbox for “Repaired” and another for “Reported only.”

Something like an oil spill would be addressed immediately. Something like a missing knockout in a box or a messy wire loom in a control cabinet would be considered repair ticket material.

Anything that is an NEC violation (such as that missing knockout) should be treated like the proverbial canary in the mine. Have the repair ticket mention the specific problem to be fixed. But also have instructions to look for (and repair) similar NEC violations in the immediate area.

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