Essential Maintenance in Preparation for Summer
If you work in facilities management, you'll already know just how busy the spring months can be. There's the damage, dirt, and wear and tear left by the winter months to contend with, and you'll also need to make sure essential equipment is ready for the summer months, says Kelly Friel.
Reactive maintenance and repairs are costly, so you'll need to plan your schedule carefully to ensure preventative maintenance is carried out at appropriate intervals.
But with so much on your plate, it can be tough to organise an efficient schedule, so it’s important you prioritise the right issues and don’t neglect any important equipment.
Prioritise areas hit hardest by winter
When creating your schedule, you'll need to pay special attention to any areas that will have been hit hardest by the winter, like carpets and flooring. These will pick up a lot of damage from mud and grit, so now is a great time to schedule that annual deep clean.
If you haven’t already, invest in a steam cleaner and some carpet shampoo, and replace any carpet tiles that have been worn or damaged beyond repair. Heavy foot traffic during the winter months can also lead to scuffs and marks on walls and stairwells, so clean these using a specialised cleaner, or re-paint them where possible.
While indoor client areas will always take priority, you want to give special attention to outdoor areas, too. Winter takes a real toll on pathways, carparks, and green areas, so make that these are a priority on your spring maintenance schedule. Fill in any cracks or potholes caused by ice damage, mow any lawns, and prepare any areas prone to weeds with some gravel or weed control groundsheet to avoid the need for time-consuming weeding later in the summer.
If any road markings you’re responsible for have become damaged or faded over the winter, then touch these up with some line-marking paint: it will be far cheaper to do on-the-spot repairs than to wait until the whole area needs repainting. Signage and exterior building services can also be left looking worse for wear after a long winter, so a fresh coat of paint will really give the premises you manage a new lease of life.
Check important equipment and tools
In addition to deep-cleaning and repairing any client areas, you'll also need to check, service, and (if necessary) repair any equipment that's essential during the summer. For instance, air-conditioning systems, fans, and lawn mowers will all be in frequent use during the coming months, so a few checks now could help you avoid costly repairs — or even replacements — later on. Replace the filters on ventilation systems and get air-conditioning units and lawn mowers checked over by a professional if you think you need outside expertise.
If you employ your own site management staff rather than outsourcing, you must ensure any equipment you provide — like safety harnesses or lifting equipment — is in working order and safe to use. Every member of staff should be trained to carry out some basic maintenance checks whenever they're required to use a piece of equipment, but you should also check any machinery over on a regular basis. The Health and Safety Executive has a guide to inspecting your company's work equipment, which tells you everything you need to know, from who should carry out any inspection to what the inspection should cover. Make sure you give it a read, so you know you're following all of the necessary rules and regulations.
Review your safety procedures
Spring is the perfect time to evaluate your safety procedures to decide what you're doing well and identify areas where you could improve. As part of this process, you should look at things like how effective your fire escape plan is and whether your fire safety equipment is still in good condition. You’ll need to test all of your fire alarms and extinguishers, as well as replace the batteries in all of your smoke detectors. Ensure that the relevant safety signage is up to date, and that it’s displayed where staff and clients can clearly see it.
Hold a spring training session to remind all staff about your safety protocols to ensure that they remain fresh in their minds, and it will prepare them for any upcoming tasks they need to undertake during the summer. For instance, if you'll be carrying out roof repairs and window cleaning at a height, then it’s a good idea to go over Working at Height Regulations (WAHR). Or, if your staff will be carrying out a deep clean using powerful cleaning agents or potentially hazardous aerosols and paints, then you'll need to refresh employee training on Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH).
These are just some of the steps you should take this spring to ensure your business is ready for the busy months ahead. By creating a preventative maintenance schedule (and sticking to it) you can avoid making expensive reactive repairs later in the year and ensure that all employees have the equipment and training they need to perform their jobs safely.
About Kelly Friel
Kelly Friel is digital product manager with UK-based tool, cleaning, and maintenance supplies retailer, Zoro. The company's website can be visited at www.zoro.co.uk.