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Managing risks of Operations and Maintenance Manuals

By January 16, 2018 No Comments

A recent conversation with a Senior Project Manager for a major new project highlighted the lack of understanding about the importance of managing risks of Operations and Maintenance Manuals when handing over a new project.

Myths of Operations and Maintenance Manuals

“O&M Manuals aren’t critical to handover”.  This comment is usually followed by “The last job took over 12 months to get the O&M’s completed, why the rush?” or “they’re not needed until the end of the Warranty or Defects Liability Period”.  These myths are usually the result of past practice, where the Contractors are not pushed by the Owner or more importantly the Owners Project Manager.

The issue is about perception, people like designers, contractors and owners reps in the ‘Project silo’ think the objectives are to be ahead of time and under budget.  Yet the ‘Project’ has only one real objective to be ready to ‘do the business’ for which it was created.  A new office block is leased and paying rent, a school is teaching students, a retail facility is selling goods.  How many of us would be happy to drive off in the new car without training on how it works, its new features and access to the owner’s manual in the glove box?

It’s a myth to think that not managing risks of Operations and Maintenance Manuals at or before the handover is not a risk to the real project objective.

Misconceptions of Operations and Maintenance Manuals

“We only provide Operations and Maintenance Manuals in accord with the specifications”.  Or the comment “if the contract does not state a requirement for a schedule of equipment, we are not doing it”.

Often the specification is either lacking an understanding of the actual requirements or is inconsistent between design disciplines or it’s just a ‘cut and paste’ from the last job.

However, the real misconception is that the specification for Operations and Maintenance Manuals is of primary relevance. In countries like Australia, New Zealand, USA, UK and elsewhere the requirements for Operations and Maintenance Manuals are set down in Laws and Regulations.  As any good lawyer will advise, a legal requirement takes precedence over any contract or specification.  And most good contracts include a clause “thou shall comply with all applicable laws”.  So it’s a misconception to assume that compliance with the specification will absolve the risk of not providing compliant O&M’s.

Risks of Operations and Maintenance Manuals

The risks of not getting the Manuals done on time and with the right information can be substantial. Work Place Health and Safety regulations include the provision of information to ensure the safe operation and maintenance of the new facilities.  In addition, many of the building regulations for facility owners include the provision of specific O&M information.

Examples include: Australian Commonwealth Work Health and Safety Act 2011 Division 2—Primary duty of care,19,3 (f) – which among other things requires provision and maintenance of equipment and structures and any information, training, instruction to protect all persons from risks to their health and safety etc.

In NZ the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 requires under Cl 42 that a supplier must provide information concerning the purpose for each plant, substance or structure, results and any testing, and information, training etc necessary.

In the USA Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) includes regulations for example on the maintenance and certification of Rope Decent Systems with specific requirements for Annual and 10 Year Inspections and certifications.  Also, the National Fire Protection Association Code NFPA72 requires the provision of a set of reproducible as-built installation drawings, operation and maintenance manuals, and a written sequence of operation shall be provided to the building owner.

In the UK under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 there is the requirement for provision of such information, instruction, training etc as is necessary et al.

With fines ranging from thousands to millions for non-compliance owners could be well within their rights to refuse acceptance at handover where the information is deemed inadequate to meet their obligations.

The best solution is to ensure a consistent approach to O&M Manuals for the whole project and early review of content well before the handover. This can be done using the OmTrak software.

Contact WebFM to discuss how we can improve and streamline the delivery of your projects and managing risks of Operations and Maintenance Manuals.