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Prevention better than cure where compliancy and PPM is concerned

05 December 2019

Industry experts give their response to the question of whether compliance with legislation should be a focus of maintenance procedures.

With the day-to-day running of facilities requiring FMs to regard all maintenance activities as “doing the basics” to ensure that building users can continue to focus on their essential activities, planned and preventative maintenance (PPM) is one of the many tasks outsourced to specialist service providers.

Although an important aspect of the FMs role, it is essentially just one of a growing number of tasks overseen by FMs. Bearing this in mind, PFM asked industry experts whether compliance with relevant legislation should be a central consideration within PPM activities.

One of the first to provide a response, FSI sales manager Jon Clark says: “For those who haven’t embedded the critical function of compliance as best practice into their FM, the price of failure for both clients and suppliers could be significant, with the implications ranging from the disruptive to the deadly.”

Compliance touches every aspect of a workplace, from asbestos, fire safety, electrics, gas and water, right through to air conditioning units, he continues.

“Your biggest asset is your workforce, and putting them in danger – whether through hazards or an ill-functioning air conditioner unit – could put lives on the line and fuel employee sickness, directly impacting your bottom line.

“With so much at stake, you might ask why compliance isn’t emphasised more in the industry. The reality is not all organisations understand their responsibilities from an FM perspective. With the FM remit evolving day by day, people have been left feeling confused.

“It’s important to shake the idea that compliance is any single person’s responsibility – it’s much bigger than that. It’s organisation-wide, because it affects everybody, every day,” Mr Clark continues.

Even if all or part of this service delivery is carried out by a third party, it should be part of the procurement process to ensure that they are compliant and that all parties are aware of the exact deliverables required.

“Taking ownership of compliance within FM needs to become the standard where relevant, and delivering the right data at your disposal will be integral to achieving this,” says Mr Clark.

Avoiding blurred lines

Further thoughts are provided by CBRE Gobal Workplace Solutions EMEA director of technical operations Mike Bentman and UK technical services operations lead Karl Curtis, who state that the guiding principle of PPM and operational procedures is the regular and systematic application of engineering knowledge and maintenance attention to equipment and facilities to ensure: proper functionality; reduced deterioration; and a safe, compliant environment.

The lines between business-critical activities, “non-critical” activities, and legislation often become blurred when it comes to the necessity of PPM, they continue.

In many cases the FM has an overall responsibility for ensuring building services operate efficiently, as well as ensuring their organisation’s role of duty holder is upheld and the obligations of the duty holder can get lost in the drive to ensure core business continuity and “minimum” compliance.

There have been numerous instances where failure to carry out essential inspections and maintenance has resulted in severe injury, Messrs Bentman and Curtis continue.

This is where statutory legislation plays a key part, primarily by ensuring that the safe and reliable operation of plant and services is built into necessary minimum maintenance procedures. The Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations 1992 states that employers must maintain their workplace and equipment in an efficient state of good working order and repair.

Therefore, it could be argued that maintenance in line with statutory legislation should form the foundation of any PPM program. Importantly, they conclude, compliance with legislation must also form an integral part of maintenance strategy, alongside business criticality.

Hemlow technical support manager and CPD trainer Dave Green adds his thoughts to the question of whether compliancy should be a central focus within PPM: “The best programmes should be developed at the concept stage of a building or refurbishment project. There are many options to consider, many industry bodies and consultants who provide information and guidance on this, for any scenario you may have.”

The generic SFG20 specification for planned maintenance lists over 900 maintainable assets, 450 specifications, of which about 150 carry a statutory compliance task, he continues.

“When considering your options these statutory tasks should be the benchmark. You can then create a detailed plan for everything else.”

This can consider risk management of some non-essential assets, where no maintenance is provided, right through to real time monitoring where everything is considered. A well-developed maintenance plan should offer a changing shape, as the building and operative assets age and being able to adapt a plan should be key.

“What is essential, when you change a plan, is that it remains compliant with the legislation covering all assets, as a minimum,” Mr Green continues.

“Time-based, condition-based, or predictive maintenance are real options in today’s flexibility with your services, and with the development of asset tracking and service scheduling software, it should be easier to monitor and evaluate your actual performance based against your predetermined compliance benchmarking, and with future developments of software, monitoring and 5G, this should become easier,” Mr Green concludes.

REAMS asset strategy manager John McCarthy, who says that apart from the obvious health and safety reasons, if an incident occurs and it is not possible to clearly demonstrate compliance and that all reasonable steps were taken, organisations and individuals could be subject to prosecution and insurances voided.

“In simple terms, if you drive a car without a current MOT when it is legislatively required and you have an accident, whether your fault or not, your insurance will be voided and subsequently you will be prosecuted with penalties imposed. If your vehicle is deemed to be unroadworthy and you cause injury or death to another party, a prison sentence is extremely likely.

“Compliance with legislation is an absolute requirement and it’s vital to capture all legislative requirements for the facility, although these may vary from one to another. Periodicity of inspection intervals also vary according to the type of asset and these need to be captured and planned effectively,” he continues.

Since these inspections are interval based, one of the easiest ways to manage them is a schedule within a CAFM/CMMS system. These systems should ideally support the upload of documentation and certificates, so evidence of compliance is easily demonstrated, but for a simple facility a wall planner and logbook may suffice.

The SFG20 standard, the definitive standard for building services maintenance, classifies activities into the following categories:

Statutory and mandatory – legal compliance and sector regulation compliance; Business critical – to ensure sector/organisation compliance; Business or service impacting – to avoid under/over maintaining applicable assets; Discretionary – none to limited business or service impact.

“There are other legislative inspection requirements that are not included in SFG20 and these will need to be identified and incorporated into any planned inspection schedule. So, compliance with relevant legislation should be integral within all PPM operations and procedures as compliance with legislative requirements needs to be evidenced and inspections therefore need to be effectively scheduled,” says Mr McCarthy.

Building compliance into PPM plans

HESIS managing director Barry Juggins says: “Absolutely. Whenever an organisation is establishing a PPM programme, it is essential to build compliance with relevant legislation into plans. Failure to meet statutory requirements can have serious consequences, including fines, imprisonment and disqualification, as well as down time and loss of productivity.”

Legislation that is relevant to PPM operations and procedures includes:

Workplace (Health Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 – code of practice on maintaining the workplace and equipment in an efficient state, good working order and good repair;

Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) – places a duty on employers to maintain work equipment and plant so it is safe to use at all times;

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 – places a duty on employers to assess and manage risks to employees and others as a result of work activities, including maintenance;

Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 – a general duty to ensure the health, safety and welfare at work of all employees.

Organisations also need to be mindful of regulations relating to their specific industry when planning preventative maintenance.

“The relationship with outside contractors carrying out maintenance work is a further consideration. For example, both the employer and contractor have a duty to ensure work is carried out safely under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

“Under the Management Regulations, the organisation operating the premises is usually responsible for ensuring contractors are able to work safely. SFG20 is a great guide to measure against,” says Mr Juggins.

Commercial Maintenance Services compliance director Stephen Dunn says the answer to PPM’s question is yes, but there are multi-layered reasons that have an impact upon both the premises and the owner or responsible person.

“Much of the legislation or guidance covering PPM operations is classified as secondary legislation, falling within the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 – which is far reaching and cannot be delegated,” he continues.

Any breaches can not only have a financial impact but can also result in custodial sentences and a career-ending criminal record. The resulting damage to a business can be highly damaging, particularly to its reputation.

“Latest HSE statistics for October 2018 to October 2019 reveal that £54.5m in fines were issued against duty holders found guilty of regulation breaches – with 12% receiving a custodial sentence (3% immediate and 9% suspended). The Sentencing Council’s guidelines were changed in February 2016 to focus on ‘risk’ rather than actual ‘outcome’ in the determination of sentence, so it really is important to reduce culpability.

“I believe this will become extremely prevalent in the post-Grenfell landscape as both government and the public are less forgiving of any corporate penny pinching. The other important reason for integrating compliance to relevant standards as part of PPM, is that it encompasses the latest building services best practice.

“Incorporating such best practice will reduce building running costs, increase the reliability of fixtures, fittings and appliances and reduce carbon emissions,” says Mr Dunn.

Life cycle responsibility

Our final comment is provided by Langley Waterproofing Systems managing director Dean Wincott, who says It is crucial that regulatory and legislative compliance is put at the centre of all maintenance, repairs and replacements.

“Consideration is often given at the initial specification and installation to ensure full compliance, but it is essential that any subsequent work does not undermine this compliance. A recommendation of The Hackitt Report is that there be a duty holder responsible ‘throughout the life cycle of the building’, to ensure that it is built safely, refurbished safely and maintained safely,” he continues.

This would mean those who commission and maintain construction work are responsible for ensuring safety and compliance throughout any maintenance operations.

Data and competency are key components for ensuring compliance. Only robust system tests and certification in real life scenarios and system set ups should be obtained and fully understood by sufficiently competent assessors and peer reviewers who guarantee work.

In addition to system tests, additional information such as ‘desktop studies’, also known as ‘assessments in lieu of test’, can assist in understanding how a system will perform, for example fire testing.

“PPM will allow facility managers to address issues that may have developed since the last check and prevent any problem developing to where the building may no longer comply and risks compromising the integrity of the building – effecting its occupants.

"This is especially important for areas of the building estate, such as the roof, an out-of-sight asset to which the condition may not be obvious or known,” Mr Wincott concludes.

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