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The impact of poor maintenance on health and safety

26 April 2023

NEW RESEARCH from UK manufacturer and direct supplier for industrial paint and repair products, Watco, has revealed the extent to which maintenance can impact the smooth running of a facility.

It found that, on average, warehouses and facilities are currently suffering 27 days of downtime per year due to maintenance work, which equates to over a month worth of working days being lost every year. In addition, 24% of those surveyed shared that they regularly have a backlog of repair and maintenance jobs to complete. 

But it isn’t just productivity that suffers, hefty maintenance jobs can cause financial losses too. In fact, over a third (34.8%) of respondents indicated that their business regularly goes over budget on urgent repair work to remove hazards, with multiple respondents disclosing that £1million or more is spent on urgent repair work each month. 

Despite these significant investments, a further third of respondents said that their business has been affected by slips, trips and falls within the past two-year period. This is not only detrimental to the employee and the business, but workplace related injury or ill health currently costs the UK economy an estimated £18.8 billion a year, according to the latest Health & Safety Executive (HSE) statistics. 

On the research, Scott Saunders, technical service manager at Watco commented: “Facilities managers continue to battle both familiar and emerging sector challenges such as budget constraints and changing standards, however, health & safety must always remain the highest priority.”

“But health & safety doesn’t need to come at a cost. In fact, maintaining a structured approach to maintaining a premises can help to unlock cost-savings within a business. Conducting routine warehouse inspections and completing minor repair jobs before they deteriorate can significantly reduce the downtime and financial investment required for major repair jobs.”

The survey of 250 facilities management professionals also uncovered the biggest perceived threats to maintaining health & safety standards – how keeping on top of regular maintenance can help to mitigate these.

It found that the top 10 biggest threats to a site’s health & safety are: 

  1. Working at height
  2. Damaged floors/surfaces
  3. Incorrect installations
  4. Faulty or damaged materials handling equipment
  5. Facility downtime
  6. Wet and slippery surfaces
  7. Time constraints
  8. Fire safety
  9. Budget constraints
  10. Having to meet changing standards and legislation

Furthermore, the survey also found that a third of facilities managers believe a lack of general maintenance and repair often poses a safety risk, and, over a quarter (27.2%) of those surveyed do not think that employees are aware of potential hazards and how to report any risks.

Scott concluded, “Some of the findings from our research could be quite alarming, however, being aware of these risks and the associated costs means that warehouse managers can mitigate the physical and financial risks before a situation escalates. Our new report, part of an ongoing series, will help to highlight the challenges faced in health and safety today, and provide readers with the knowledge and tools required to improve the safety of their facilities and maximise productivity.”

For more information on managing health and safety threats in 2023, download Watco’s free report here: https://www.watco.co.uk/the-challenges-of-maintaining-a-safe-facility