Will COVID Delays Cause Future Accidents?
What is COVID Delaying?
I was reading an article about maintenance at refineries being delayed to cut costs.
Why was the maintenance being delayed? To cut costs because COVID had caused a drop in refining production of about 10%. That meant that budgets had to be cut. And where’s a good place to cut budgets? Maintenance!
How many other industries have delayed maintenance to cut costs? And how many improvement initiatives have been delayed (or cancelled) because the money just wasn’t there because demand was down?
Projections are that demand for many products will return to normal (or close to it) in the second half of 2021. As production increases, people will get busy. Many business are trying to continue to operate on a reduced number of employees to make up for profits lost during the pandemic.
Shortcuts Lead to Disasters
We have seen it many times before. Shortcuts lead to accidents. What kind of shortcuts?
- Delayed, backlogged, or cancelled maintenance.
- Reduced staffing.
- Excessive overtime.
- Cancelled or reduced training.
- Running systems over capacity.
- Eliminating safeguards to run closer to plant limits.
These shortcuts may even include delaying improvements that were a result of past incident investigations.
What Are You Doing to Stop Shortcuts?
Sometimes management and workers get away with shortcuts. The delayed maintenance eventually gets performed before something bad happens. Other times the improvements are backlogged for too long. And the result is…
This isn’t just a refinery problem. This can happen at:
- Power plants
- Paper mills
- Pharmaceutical factors
- Chemical plants
- Electrical transmission and distribution lines
- Nuclear plants
What are you doing to make sure that your management is making conservative decisions?
First, what is a conservative decision? See this previous article…
Would you like to learn more about conservative decision making?
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