Maintenance Foundations Maintenance Management

Maintenance and the Environment

Know how Maintenance and the environment are inked in maintaining the environmental compliance of the organization This role is ethical in the first place.

In our couple of previous chats Why Maintenance is Important? & More on the importance of Maintenance Added Value, we had discussed the maintenance role in the Health and Safety. We had seen how maintains supports the safety of users/operators and maintenance team. We had concluded that Health and safety incidents are disrupting to the business as a whole. Then in the following chat we had discussed around the added value of maintenance to the business. It was a detailed chat around the maintenance effect on OEE – Overall Equipment Efficiency – in the areas of Performance rate and quality rate. In this chat while we shall correlate the maintenance importance and the environment

How maintenance affects the environment?

As an entry point we need to define the environment

The surroundings or conditions in which a person, animal, or plant lives or operates.

Oxford Dictionary

So in the work place there are persons and machines and their surroundings is their working environment. Outside the working place, the emissions and wastes from the working place affects the living environment of persons, animals and plants. So we shall try to focus on the maintenance effect on the Environment in the sense of:

  • Emissions
  • Wastes

Why do I need to understand the environmental impact?

When working in the maintenance field there are 2 approaches that describe your maintenance years experience. The first one, to have some hand skills and follow the instructions of the working place literally. The second one is to understand why you are doing these actions and steps, give recommendations, look for better ways to do the same old stuff or even, recommend new things to be done. The first path will maintain your job while the second one will build your career. To be able to follow the second path, you need to build a more broader understanding of the jobs you are doing. The information is available but we need to dig to find it or, simply ask about it or, spend few minutes searching online.

We shall move together through some information about the possible environmental impact of your work place, why it is regulated and how you can contribute positively to ensure your work place compliance to the regulations. Failure to comply with the environmental regulation results in fines as a first step. However it may result in cancelling the business legalization permits as a whole. So, please, wherever your position is in the maintenance organization, any work order or partial failure related to the emissions, wastes or house keeping is of a vital importance. It is important for your health, your colleagues, nearby humans and other forms of life and to the business itself. At the end of this chat, you will find the references of the data included.


emissions substances discharged into the air (as by a smokestack or an automobile engine)

Merriam Webster

That’s the first common perception about the effect of a working place over the surrounding environment. The air born particles or gases that results from a transformation process were always the prime suspect. Many National Regulations and International Protocols where introduced to control mainly three types of emissions:

Ozone depletion Substances.

  •  The Ozone layer absorbs most of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation (UV-B), limiting the amount of this radiation that reaches the surface of the Earth. Because this radiation causes skin cancer and cataracts, the ozone layer plays an important role in protecting human health. It also prevents radiation damage to plants, animals, and materials. 
  • The main Ozone depletion substances include:
    • chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), used in refrigerators and air conditioners
    • halons, used in Fire Extinguishers
    • carbon tetrachloride, methyl chloroform used for degreasing, as a solvent and spot cleaner
    • and methyl bromide used for fumigation of soil, structures and goods to be imported or exported.

Potent greenhouse gases.

  • Greenhouse gases have far-ranging environmental and health effects. They cause climate change by trapping heat, and they also contribute to respiratory disease from smog and air pollution. Extreme weather, food supply disruptions, and increased wildfires are other effects of climate change caused by greenhouse gases.
    • In addition to the above gases that had both ozone depletion effect and potent greenhouse effect, the following gases are on the top:
    • carbon dioxide (CO2), 70 % of its emissions are coming from Energy. – Electricity & heat (24.9%) – Industry (14.7%) – Transportation (14.3%) – Other fuel combustion (8.6%) – Fugitive emissions (4%)
    • Methane (CH4), 15 % of its emissions are from oil and gas production, some industries and waste management. remaining are natural sources
    • Nitrous oxide (N2O), 75% from Agricultural sources, 20% from Energy sources including transportation, 5% from industries as adapic acid for naylon and nitric acid for fertlizers

Air Pollutants Impacting Human Health.

  • Those pollutants don’t have the same media interference and propaganda because their effect is localized to the human health in the surrounding areas and in the working place. They are only in the focus based on their contribution to the carbon emissions.
  • From those Air Pollutants:
    • Particulates. They result from Combustion of bio-fuels such as wood, and fossil fuels such as coal or diesel. They cause reduced atmospheric visibility. Human health impact. Black carbon particulates contribute to global warming besides its effects on human health.
    • Sulfur dioxide. It results from Coal combustion, ore smelters, petroleum refineries, diesel engines burning high-sulfur fuels. It causes: Acid rain. Human health impact as  shortness of breath which causes risks to people with asthma.
    • Carbon monoxide. A product of combustion, mainly from motor vehicles. It impacts the Human Health. Increased levels of carbon monoxide reduce the amount of oxygen carried by haemoglobin around the body in red blood cells. The result is that vital organs, such as the brain, nervous tissues and the heart, do not receive enough oxygen to work properly. No more than 2.5% of hemoglobin can be bound to carbon monoxide before some health effects become noticeable. At very high concentrations of carbon monoxide, up to 40% of the hemoglobin can be bound to carbon monoxide in this way. This level will almost certainly kill humans.
Maintenance and the environment


Waste generation, in most cases, represents inefficient use of materials.

United States Environmental Protection Agency

Industrial wastes include Chemical wastes, Metals, Redundant fuel, Lubricants, Batteries, Chemicals such as Acids, Alkalis and Phenols , Laboratory waste, Drums and small containers, dust collected from emissions filtration, Equipment and parts as: bearing, pipes, or electrical and electronic components, etc.

Water Pollution

Illegal dumping of contaminated water, gases, chemicals, heavy metals or radioactive materials into major waterways causes damage to marine life and the environment as a whole.

Soil Pollution

Even the earth’s soil can become polluted, mainly due to industrial wastes thrown into landfills. These chemicals and toxic materials can destroy the fertility of the soil, decrease the productivity of crops and even lead to the contamination of foods that we may eventually consume.

Wastes and Regulations

Based on the location of your business, it might be illegal to dump industrial wastes as domestic wastes. Industrial wastes are handled only by authorized companies and at a cost. However before thinking about the cost and the regulations, we need to agree that wastes, once generated, must be managed through reuse, recycling, storage, treatment, and/or disposal. Before generation, reduce wastes to the possible minimum or the best practices of the industry you are working in. Keep in mind that a portion of this waste generation is due to faulty or partially faulty equipment.

Some Failures that results in wastes

Usually the bearings, lubricants, dosing chemicals and cooling water have life time after which they are disposed. Maintaining the condition of the equipment through close inspection and partial failures repair would increase the useful life time of those elements. In Short, you need to increase the MTBF -Mean Time between Failure- and to expand the maintenance cycle based on analysis and close monitoring. Some of the failures/partial failures that would generate wastes:

  • Scrapped material in the production lines due to sudden failures
  • And,Out of specs products due to partial failures that need to be scrapped
  • Moreover, Leakage of any kind: water, lubricants, hydraulic oil, chemicals
  • Not to forget, Vibration increase due to wear, looseness, unbalance, lubricant condition or induced vibration will damage parts including bearing
  • A basic source, Corrosion due to improper material selection or misuse of corrosion inhibitors.
  • Finally, Loose house keeping where electronic components are used
Maintenance Management role in reducing wastes:

Maintenance management has a guidance role to ensure:

  • Proper maintenance performed through maintenance analysis and adopting Reliability initiatives. In maintenance reliability only needful maintenance is done in the most efficient and effective way.
  • The maintenance performance audited through through KPIs -Key Performance indicators- as MTBF – Mean Time between failures,
  • Continues improvement to increase equipment and parts life time
  • Enhance equipment performance to improve cost

At the end, Keep in mind that Continuous improvement is crucial because:

I trust that you are aware that today’s success is tomorrow’s mediocrity. This means anything appealing today will be appalling tomorrow.

Leaders’ Frontpage: Leadership Insights from 21 Martin Luther King Jr. Thoughts

In Conclusion,

Maintenance has a vital role in maintaining the compliance of the organization to the national environmental regulations. This role is ethical in the first place. Overlooking the failures or partial failures that affects the environment could affect negatively the maintenance person in the first place.

Environmental incidents could disrupt the business and proper maintenance maintains validity of the measures taken by the organization for this aspect

If you feel you need help with any of these ideas we discussed, drop us a line for initial investigation in the form by Clicking here or request Management Consultancy or Coaching Services From our Store

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By Rezika

I intend to create a better-managed value adding working environment.
Projects and Maintenance Manager with broad experience in industrial plants. Managed Projects and applied different maintenance strategies and improvements tasks in different industrial plants: steel, cement, and food industries.

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