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October 25, 2010

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European businesses warned not to neglect workplace maintenance

The HSE and IOSH are running various events to promote European Safety Week, which starts today (25 October) and focuses on maintaining safe workplaces.

The theme of this year’s event, which is coordinated by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, is the Europe-wide ‘Safe Maintenance’, the aim being to promote safe and healthy workplaces by encouraging an integrated and structured approach to maintenance.

HSE chair Judith Hackitt revealed that maintenance-related accidents are a serious cause of concern, and is encouraging businesses to take part in the numerous events taking place this week. She said: “Maintenance is fundamental to the integrity of every system, and safe maintenance is fundamental and integral to a real and effective health and safety system in every workplace.”

IOSH is supporting the campaign and is keen to promote the importance of safe maintenance in the workplace, especially in the wake of the government spending cuts. IOSH policy and technical director Richard Jones told SHP: “It’s crucial that the ongoing economic difficulties and recently announced government cuts don’t lead employers to neglect, or skimp on maintenance. What worries us is that hard-pressed managers looking to meet saving targets may cut corners on safeguarding the health and safety of their staff and their working environments.

“We know that good health and safety is good for business, and that well-maintained plant and equipment help prevent accidents, exposures, quality failures and unscheduled downtime. Good maintenance is something we all rely on in our daily lives and must be properly planned and prioritised – it’s when it isn’t that we can get disasters and loss of life.”

The HSE, in conjunction with EU-OSHA, has published a range of information and tools to help any organisation that wants to participate in the initiative. They can be used to highlight the issues to workforces, clients and contractors in order to increase awareness and understanding, and ultimately reduce the chance of accidents occurring. These can be accessed at

During October and November EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, HSE, HSENI, IOSH, and the Trades Union Congress (TUC) are running events that will provide expert advice and help as part of the Safe Maintenance campaign. These will focus on five key areas:

  • Plan and conduct risk assessments for maintenance activities;
  • Make the work area safe, secure and clean;
  • Use appropriate equipment;
  • Work as planned, with no shortcuts;
  • Make final checks to ensure that the task has been completed correctly, the item maintained is in a safe condition, and any waste material generated has been cleaned away.
    To see a list of HSE Safe Maintenance events, visit and for more information about European Safety Week visit

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