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March 01, 2003  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

Get an early start on 'spring cleaning'

Get an early start on 'spring cleaning'

by Walt Smothers


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A clean work area is a safe work area, and there’s no better time to start thinking about and scheduling your cleaning chores than spring.

These chores can range from shop and bus barn cleaning, painting, wall and floor repairs, door and roof repairs to just a general inspection and repair of everything that needs fixing. And, with the exception of roof repair, which is usually performed by an outside contractor, all tasks are performed by your in-house staff.

How to get started
Got your brooms, mops and paint brushes ready? Let's start in the shop.

Shop areas should be kept clean and organized at all times, and, once a year, everything should be moved out of the shop for a thorough cleaning. Depending on the size of the shop, this could take several hours to accomplish. Most maintenance managers don’t like to give up that much time just for cleaning, but, as the cliché goes, "It's better to be safe than sorry." If you have a large shop, try spreading this out over several days. You'll be surprised by the potential safety hazards you'll uncover.

Equipment should be kept in a central location and returned to this location by the technician when a job is complete. (Remember how you told your kids to put their toys away?) Nothing should be left sitting in the area that the technician has to maneuver around to complete bus repairs. Walkways should have clearly visible painted lines that keep everyone away from the technician's work area. These lines should be repainted yearly and cleaned regularly. Remember: If you can’t see the lines, you can’t follow them.

Hopefully, the walls and floors of your shop have remained in good condition over the winter months, but if cracks have developed, have them repaired immediately. It's one of the best investments in preventive maintenance you can make. A small repair now could save you some big bucks later. Also check the outside walls of your shop for cracks. Building maintenance personnel can usually do these repairs, especially when they’re small. Be aware, though. Sometimes these can go unnoticed for years, but eventually they will crack all the way through and create some big headaches and equally big repair bills.

Shop doors, large and small, can be repaired and painted by building maintenance personnel. The exterior of these doors takes the most abuse and needs the most attention. Why bother, you may ask, if they’re outside doors? Well-maintained doors create a much more attractive and professional entry into your facility. And the outside appearance of a shop or parking garage usually leaves a lasting impression. It speaks volumes about the company and the people who work there. I’m sure you want to make a good first impression.

Slippery when wet
Now, for the bus barn or parking garage. Concrete floors can become very slippery when wet or coated with any oil or other residue. Remember to keep them spotlessly clean. The type of paint you use on the floor can also make a difference. Here at the Transit Authority of River City, we use non-skid paint at the front and rear of the parking tracks. This should also be repainted yearly and cleaned regularly. Once oil and dirt build up on non-skid paint, it becomes very ineffective.

Employee and customer safety should be the No. 1 goal of everyone in the transportation industry. Keeping all of your work areas clean is a good start in reaching that goal. And spring is a great time to start cleaning!

Walt Smothers is maintenance training manager at the Transit Authority of River City in Louisville, Ky.


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