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James O’Hare Head of M&E Services at PHS Compliance explains how an effective maintenance policy supports client operations while ensuring compliance

Planned maintenance regimes for buildings and their electrical and mechanical assets are used to guide duty holders and responsible persons – building owners, managers or employers – on how best to comply with statutory and recommended practice requirements for workplace health, safety and welfare.

Core workplace safety responsibilities are set out in legislation. Key examples include the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HASAWA), Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 (EAWR), Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRFSO), Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations and Amendment 2018, and Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases Regulation (amended 2018).

CIBSE Guide M provides guidance for developing a maintenance policy, and SFG20 lays out similar asset-based maintenance requirements and frequencies of inspection. Maintenance activities can take a variety of forms, including scheduled or routine (time based), condition based, risk based, reactive, or operate to failure. Other considerations affecting the design of a planned maintenance regime will include manufacturer recommendations and warranty conditions, the building function and how assets are used.

Compliance inspection and maintenance data should both be used to sense-check and update your asset register. So much of this information is relevant to facilities managers for condition reporting, energy use analysis, whole-life cost analysis or capex spend. We have found, on average, that as many as 40 per cent of site assets may be ‘rogue’ (unknown to facilities or site managers). These rogue electrical or mechanical assets are highly likely to be overlooked within a purely compliance-driven programme, and probably poorly maintained. Comprehensive maintenance data is far more easily captured and delivered in a BIM and data-rich facilities world.

FMs should seek greater cost efficiency from multiple PPM (planned preventative maintenance) activities. Create more visibility at the commencement of a contract with your maintenance providers, and avoid the complex messy management of PPM wherever possible by identifying and agreeing a full schedule of works. Suppliers can then create more value and efficiency by scheduling multiple tasks across a smaller number of site visits. From the outset, you’ll be better placed to control costs and your maintenance providers will be better placed to quantify risk and business impact.

Don’t throw your maintenance partners under a bus if things go awry. Work with providers to help them deliver to your SLAs and KPIs. Be as clear as you can, as early as you can, about your highest service priorities and associated KPIs. These are often reactive maintenance priorities such as two- or four-hour critical response windows for gas leaks or power outage. Planned maintenance visits, although less urgent in nature, should remain central to your maintenance regime. It is these scheduled tasks that form the bedrock of your property strategy. Ensure your supply chain really understands the scale and nature of your priorities, so that providers can deliver to the best of their ability.

Align your maintenance activities to best practice industry standards such as CIBSE Guide M or SFG20. These standards provide reliable, systematic and coherent management processes for ensuring your opex spend is as effective and value-driven as possible.

We have a healthcare client that carries out over 575,000 dialysis treatments per year for 4,000 patients in over 50 clinics across the UK, as well as three clinics in the Irish Republic. We have provided planned and reactive mechanical and electrical maintenance since 2012 for commercial gas and HVAC, as well as planned electrical maintenance and statutory testing services. The task involves complex, heavily used, critical healthcare buildings and assets, and requires a mix of planned, reactive and condition-based maintenance, based on the function and usage of buildings and the asset infrastructure.

The client relies in the first instance on manufacturer maintenance guidance, backed by SFG20, against which phs Compliance delivers in- and out-of-hours planned maintenance services according to the client’s operational needs. In the year to date, we’ve delivered over 3,000 maintenance tasks.

SLAs, KPIs and contract reporting measures are agreed annually. We meet a variety of callout SLAs for commercial gas systems, and through our internal helpdesk we resolve approximately 100 reactive callouts per month. For reactive maintenance in our customer’s operational environment, ‘priority one’ callouts requiring a response time of four hours or less cover loss of electrical power, loss of heating and hot water and uncontrollable water leaks in critical, clinical areas.

We provide temporary heating solutions if boiler spare parts are on order so that clinic operations remain unaffected. Response times of 24 hours or less are required for loss of lighting or airconditioning in clinical areas. Other priorities with response times of three to seven days or one month involve M&E works across non-clinical areas, remedial repairs or installations. In year one of the contract, in addition to completing all scheduled maintenance tasks we also saw to it that a comprehensive built asset register was compiled, giving our customer visibility over all maintainable equipment, systems and components.

Our approach is to align and group PPM tasks to optimise productivity and efficiency on site, regularly grouping electrical tasks for fire alarm, emergency lighting and electrical installation inspection. We worked closely with the customer to determine the best PPM schedule for airconditioning systems, ensuring that all asset data was captured. All airconditioning services are delivered out of hours to avoid disruption to clinic operations and patient treatments, and at least eight PPM inspections per month are needed to ensure our customer’s estate remains operationally effective and compliant.

Maintenance activity has become more closely aligned with the client’s needs over time as we build up a detailed understanding of clinical activity and the needs of the sites. We liaise with the client to keep certain beds free at certain times, for example, enabling us to carry out PPM tasks more efficiently.

Occasionally PPM tasks must be rearranged at short notice due to outbreaks of gastrointestinal infection. We actively monitor the health of our engineering workforce to ensure that patients with low immune systems are not exposed to the risk of infection.

Due to the critical nature of our client’s operation, agile and responsive mobilisation is important and we have a slick uplift process in place for repairs and remedial spend. This ensures business continuity and avoids delays to onsite repairs. On one occasion six clinics could not be accessed due to infectious disease, and highly responsive rescheduling was needed to ensure the PPM regime was maintained.

A healthcare environment is highly sensitive to the hygiene risk posed by water leaks and legionnaires’ disease. To mitigate the risk, we have added additional control measures to thermostatic valves and taps to strengthen our client’s commercial gas and L8 PPM regime.

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