Risk is a manageable variable

It is easy to believe that the risks associated with a process or a protective system are fixed when it is designed. It is true that the risk of a serious incident such as a boiler explosion depends in part on the systems involved: in this case, how often the boiler pressure controller fails, and the reliability of the relief valves. But both of these factors can be influenced by maintenance.

It may be possible to improve the reliability of the pressure control system through maintenance, and it is certainly possible to increase the availability of the relief valves by frequent testing.

So rather than being fixed by equipment design, risk is something that can be managed. In fact, maintenance can influence both failure rates and consequences, providing a powerful risk management tool.

If maintenance can provide a way to manage industrial risk, it follows that lack of maintenance, ineffective maintenance, or inappropriate maintenance can expose your business to risks of which it is completely unaware until something goes wrong. Alongside supposedly “safe” or “fail-safe” design, a twenty-first century organisation needs to devote time to creating a robustly derived maintenance schedule to ensure that its risk management objectives are realised.