Industrial Safety


Modern production equipment requires sophisticated lubrication management to ensure reliable, safe, and efficient operation. This series of three one-day, vendor-neutral training classes offered by Machine Lubes and Services will provide expert training on current best practices in lubricant management applicable to a wide range of industrial lubricant applications.

These courses are targeted for Reliability Engineers, Maintenance Personnel, Operators and Technicians that work with lubricating oils on a regular basis. Lubricants are the life blood of your production equipment. Knowing how to implement or improve a lubricant management program is critical to the success of your operation. This specialized training offers an ideal opportunity for lubricant users to increase knowledge and skills so they can perform their responsibilities with a higher level of understanding and expertise.

Our approach to Plant Safety and Lubrication Efforts

If you stop to think about it, do we really need to be reminded about safety every day? Isn’t it enough to be told once a year in a short safety class that, yes, safety is indeed important and something that should be considered above everything else? The answer, of course, is a resounding NO! Having a daily reminder in the form of signage at the front gate, awareness posters throughout the plant and a safety notice at the machine are an important tool in avoiding complacency – the most common cause of workplace accidents.

In other areas of plant life, complacency also is one of the leading causes of failure to succeed. This includes lubrication. Like other maintenance tasks, lubrication often is performed poorly due to one or more of a combination of factors, the most common of which are lack of training and lack of procedure. But even where good procedures and well-trained people are in place, mistakes do still happen, usually due to complacency.

So, how can we avoid complacency in plant maintenance/lubrication and production? Just like safety, accidental human error resulting in poor lubrication can be minimized through a combination of awareness and consistent re-enforcement of the mission and vision. What better way to do this than through signage, metrics and awareness notices? NONE.

Achieving Awareness on Three Levels

We have procedures to identify the effectiveness of current lubrication performance in mitigating the causative factors of lubrication-related failure:

  • failure to do lubrication tasks on time,
  • failure to keep contaminants out of the machine, and
  • Failure to keep lubricant in good health.

At the shop-floor level, safety often is proclaimed through a series of awareness posters sometimes featuring photos of family members of co-workers to help stress the point that safety affects everyone and is everyone’s responsibility. For lubrication, a similar approach can be taken. For example, a simple awareness poster showing the effects of over-greasing on a bearing or a laminated poster showing the different colors assigned to each lubricant in the plant helps to reinforce the importance of precision lubrication and dispel the myth that oil is oil, grease is grease, and the more the better.

At the machine level, pinch points or locations where safety hazards exist are usually identified with signage. While useful for all employees, safety hazard labels are most important for new employees and those least experienced with a specific machine. For lubrication, the same holds true. At each point of application, a simple color-coded label identifying the correct lubricant, or a more elaborate schema including the correct quantity of grease to apply, easily can be developed. The same applies to lubrication inspections. Simple annotated photographs showing various points on the plant and what the desired state should be during inspection serve to help reinforce best practice and encourage precision. The approach is often referred to as the “visual plant”.

Standardized Work Plans

In addition to labels, metrics and awareness posters, safety also is made a priority through the use of standardized work plans which provide (or should provide) specific details about a task and the associated hazards. For lubrication, the same holds true. Lubrication instructions need to provide specific details and guidelines that are simple and easy to understand, but contain specific details for how to perform the task according to prescribed best practice.

Training and Reinforcement

Finally, no safety program would be complete without formal and informal safety training. Even though an employee may have been through safety training during his or her initial hiring, safety is reinforced through regular routine, formal training as well as informal reinforcement at the start of a crew meeting or other group gathering.

Just like safety and the various ways we help to insure that we minimize the number of lost-time accidents, think about how we also can apply a similar approach to help insure you strive toward lubrication excellence and production practices.


Safety is everyone’s responsibility. The best way to ensure safety measures are followed is awareness, training, proper signage, and re-enforcing the importance of safe work habits. Leakage control, storage organization, and avoiding machine failure due to poor lubrication will go a long way to minimize the safety risks at your plant.