Selling your ideas to help make improvements in the workplace


How many of us market our “Continuous Improvement” ideas well within the organisation?

My experience is that it is very difficult to bring about even small changes since there is a natural resistance to any change.

I came across this article on marketing your ideas to internal clients and decision makers.

Selling your ideas to help make improvements in the workplace.

Read and hone your marketing skills.



Operations-driven reliability

Hi all,

In some of my earlier posts I have spoken about reliability, simple “Look, Listen, Feel” strategy in condition based maintenance strategy etc.

I came across an article in “Plant Services” web site covering a few of the areas and working towards “Operations – driven reliability.

I conducted a workshop on Reliability Centred Maintenance where I had covered the aspect of “Managing User / Client / Operator” expectations.

Please read this article following the link given below.

Operations-driven reliability.


Importance of Training the work force on Electrical Safety


Electrical Power is used by all the staff members in a work force, at all levels.

To be safe, it is essential that every one understands the importance of basic electrical safety. For those who work on powered equipment, it is vital that they know more about electrical safety.

To achieve near zero electricity power related accidents in any organisation it is a must that layered, regular training and refresher sessions are conducted. Audit on how people comply to safety rules is also essential to measure the training effectiveness and attitudinal change brought about.

Here is a link to an article on the importance of training and audit on electrical safety.



Control your repairs and spares, avoid costly downtime

Hi all,

All those who maintain capital assets by way of equipment, systems, buildings and vehicles cannot deny that they had to do some sort of repair work due to break down, reduced capacity, failures etc, some time in their day-to-day operations.

How the repairs were done, who all were involved, where was it done, What was done, when was it done and why did it become necessary are a few questions that need to be answered and recorded as part of the “Equipment / System History”.

I came across a very well written article on the importance of ensuring:

  • that the “Repair work” is assigned to the trained and skilled personnel.
  • that a well organised and clean workshop is used to do the necessary repairs, if not done on site, on location.
  • that quality spare parts and other material should be available in time, to avoid delay in work schedules.

The Link to the article is given below:

Reliability: Gain control of your repairs and spares to avoid costly downtime.

Reliability goes hand-in-hand with the quality of work done. It is essential that the repair personnel in the maintenance department are trained in their core skills and periodically tested for their skill retention. These people should be encouraged to learn new skill sets so that they also can rise in the hierarchy as deemed necessary.

The HR angle to skill retention in an organisation, getting better employee loyalty, better team development etc will flow from the way we try to motivate them.



Electrical Systems: The history of electrical safety

Hi all,

Making “Safety at work” a religion will help save many lives, will reduce accidents and injuries, improve individual productivity, business reputation, employee loyalty and the overall bottom line of any business.

Every aspect of work needs to be made safe, but one of the most hazardous and common place accident prone area is people working on electrical installations.

What is visible is generally comprehended and people become aware of the danger and take care. An arc flash is a hidden danger and can strike at will from any of the closed and secure switchgear cabinets.

I found this very infomative article on the history of electrical safety and the evolution of OSHA standards regarding the same in the Plant Services online magazine. Please click on the link to read.

Electrical Systems: The history of electrical safety.

Safety is everybody’s business. The Managers have the additional responsibility of ensuring that his team is fully aware of the safety requirements and adhere to all the regulations in letter and spirit. Thisis part of the team building exercises and training.


Safety Matters, While Working in Confined Spaces Part 3

This article has been written out of personal and institutional experiences and should not be taken as a formal guideline for working in confined spaces. Please refer to relevant safety manuals before undertaking such work.

This is the third and final part of this series.

Part 1 is an introduction to “Confined Spaces”.

Part 2 contains thoughts on “Testing the atmosphere within confined spaces”, “Isolating the confined spaces”, “Other likely hazards within confined spaces”, “Personal protection gear”, “Support team” and “Training” aspects.

A link to the check list to ascertain safety for entering confined spaces is given below. Please go through. You are welcome to copy, download and use the same if you want to.

Confined Space Entry Safety Checklist

“Work Safe, Be Safe, Live Safe…….Live and Let Live”

Safety Matters, While Working in Confined Spaces Part 2

This article has been written out of personal and institutional experiences and should not be taken as a formal guideline for working in confined spaces. Please refer to relevant safety manuals before undertaking such work.

This is the second part of this series. Part 1 is an introduction to “Confined Spaces”.

Testing the Atmosphere

Never trust your senses to determine the presence or absence of gases in a confined space. Some of the toxic gases and vapours are colourless and odourless, hence you can neither see or smell them. You cannot determine the level of Oxygen present also by your nose.

The prevalent atmosphere should be tested using properly calibrated instruments / miner’s safety lamp etc before “Safe to work Certificates” are issued.

  • Some of the gases or vapours are heavier than air and tend to settle to the bottom of a confined space – Example, Hydrogen Sulphide or Steam which do not sustain life.
  • Some for the gases are lighter than air and will rise to the top of a confined space – Example, Methane, which does not sustain life.
  • Some of the gases may have the same density as air and will occupy the rest of the space – Example, Carbon Monoxide which does not sustain life.

It is essential that all the areas in a confined space are tested for presence of gases and absence of Oxygen. In both the cases, the area is to be ventilated using external air sources (Supply or Exhaust or Supply and Exhaust). The exhaust gases should be let out to well ventilated spaces, preferably open air.

If steam or inert gases have been injected into a confined space, the space needs to be ventilated before effecting personnel entry since both steam and inert gases are non-life sustaining. For example, some of the aviation turbine fuel tanks are automatically filled with Nitrogen as the fuel level falls.

Steam will increase the temperature of the space and the space is to be allowed to cool before allowing people to enter and work.

Care should be taken so that no electrical spark is introduced into the confined space. The motor drive for the supply / exhaust fans and their controls should be outside the confined space.

After ventilating for about 24 hours, the confined space is to be re-tested for presence of hazardous gases and presence of life-sustaining levels of Oxygen. Personnel should be allowed to enter the compartment only when the test results are satisfactory.

Even after the atmospheric tests conducted in a confined space is deemed satisfactory, the condition can reverse due to the nature of work carried out within the space.

  • For example, if a metallic tank is chipped and cleaned initially and paint application has been done, the paint fumes are both hazardous and flammable.

  • Another example is hot work such as cutting / brazing inside a confined space will reduce the Oxygen level and leave hazardous gases within.

In all cases, periodic monitoring is essential to ensure that confined spaces are safe to work within. This is applicable for carrying out hot work onto the confined space walls from outside as well. For example, if hot work is to be carried out on to the metal sides of a confined fuel tank, the tank needs to be inspected and cleared as “Safe to work” periodically.

Isolation of the Confined Spaces

The confined space where work is to be carried out internally and externally should be isolated from all energy sources through “Lock Out Tag Out “ processes as follows:

  • All electric circuits should be switched off and the incoming switch locked.

  • All other energy such as hydraulic and pneumatic air supplies should be bled till empty and the supply valves are to be shut and locked.

  • All mechanical drives such as belt or chain drives should be disconnected and stowed away.

  • All mechanical moving parts within a confined space should be secured safely.

  • The entry manhole cover should be opened and secured safely in the open position to avoid accidental closing.

Other Hazards

Confined spaces could also have other hazards such as:

  • Low ceiling height causing personnel to crouch and move inside. Chances of banging head onto appendages and the ceiling can exist.

  • Low or nil visibility since the space is not lit well.

  • Slippery surfaces due to stored chemicals and even water.

  • defective or missing ladder rungs in the space

  • Falling objects; this could be from people working at higher levels within the space or material being removed / being cut.

  • High temperature within the space due to exposure of the external surface to hot sun or low ventilation in the surrounding compartments. Periodic rotation of staff working inside is essential to reduce fatigue and dehydration.

  • Noise is another hazard. Sounds may get amplified beyond allowable limits, within the space.

Personal Protection Gear

Though the list is not exhaustive, the following are considered essential:

  • Chemical suites in case of entering spaces containing hazardous chemicals

  • Industrial safety helmet, preferably with a miner’s torch on it.

  • Breathing apparatus (Self contained or with re-circulation depending on the space content and current state) when the Oxygen levels are low or hazardous gases are still present.

  • Ear defenders / plugs

  • Eye protection

  • Non skid safety shoes with rubber soles and steel toe caps

  • Work gloves

  • Fall arrester or full body harnesses; to be used while entering and leaving the space and if working at a height within the compartment.

  • Safety communication and rescue rope lines. If the person working within the space is visible to the support person outside, rope communication lines are not necessary and voice communication can be resorted to.

  • Lead lamps from a low voltage DC source

As part of the Hazard assessment, confirm whether the person entering the space can enter through the available opening, wearing all the protective gear and can be evacuated also in the same state. If not possible, alternative strategies will have to be devised.

Support and Emergency Team

No one should be allowed to enter a confined space without at least one person standby, manning the communication rope line, outside the space. The emergency rescue team should be in a quick access position to attend in case of emergencies.

Each person entering the space should have a buddy outside monitoring his progress.

The rescue process should be planned in advance and practiced regularly. An unplanned rescue act could endanger other lives also.

The people entering confined spaces and the support team are to be fully briefed about the hazards, work needed to be done, work process flow, who-is-to-do-what, sequence of entry / exit, tools and other material to be carried etc.

First aid kits with all essential material should be kept handy in the vicinity of work, with the support team.

The communication signals should be mutually agreed and understood by all. These should be practised too to identify the difference between a quick tug and a long pull. A Few examples are given below:

  • One quick tug every 5 minutes would mean everything fine

  • Two quick tugs could mean that he needs something from top

  • Three quick tugs could mean he wants to send something up

  • Long pulling on the rope or frantic tugging means he is in trouble and needs help

  • No tugs or pulls for more than 10 minutes would mean immediate assisted evacuation of the person from the space.

It is worthwhile developing a “Standard Operating Process” (SOP) for any work related to confined spaces, so that it becomes part of a standard drill by all concerned.

Part 3 of this series will have a check off list that can be consulted and confirmed before undertaking work within confined spaces.