For many of us, Labor Day signifies the beginning of the college and pro football seasons, the last weekend of summer, and the return to school. It also means that it is time to make sure that facilities, plants , and property managers have dusted off their CMMS inspection checklist for the change of seasons. But how many of you know the origins of Labor Day?

Labor Day History

The history of Labor seems to have been forgotten since its beginnings in 1882. Parades, celebrations and important political speeches have been replaced by BBQs, soccer tournaments and cleaning out the garage to find the leaf blower. However, it is important to remember that the events leading up to the establishment of a national holiday in 1894 helped establish the labor movement that has forever changed our industrial society.

The first Labor day was celebrated on September 5, 1882. It was sponsored by the Central Labor Union of NYC as nothing more than a demonstration and a picnic. Over the next decade the idea spread quickly and by 1887 New York became the first State to legislate the holiday. By early 1894 many of the industrial states had also passed State laws recognizing the holiday.

In 1894 Labor Day became a national holiday as a result of the Pullman strike in Chicago. Times were tough back then and the country was gripped in a severe economic recession. The Pullman company decided to cut wages but not reduce the rents for its workers in its company owned town. A strike by 3,000 Pullman employees quickly turned into a national crisis supported by over 250,000 workers nationwide and effectively bringing rail traffic and transportation in the U.S. to a halt.

In a decision that cost him re-election, President Grover Cleveland sent in Federal troops and US Marshals that killed 13 workers and wounded dozens more. The involvement of government troops on the behalf of industry tore the country apart. In an effort to make peace, Labor Day was signed into law 6 days after the strike ended.

“A national commission formed to study causes of the 1894 strike found Pullman’s paternalism partly to blame and Pullman’s company town to be “un-American”. In 1898, the Illinois Supreme Court forced the Pullman Company to divest ownership in the town, which was annexed to Chicago.”

Source: Wikipedia

Sadly, the U.S. Department of Labor fails to recognize the events that led to our end of summer holiday.

CMMS Seasonal Checklist

Getting back to modern day facilities management, Labor Day signifies that it is time to prepare for a change in weather by inspecting assets and making sure they are ready for the weather change. I did say weather change as I remember living in Buffalo for many years and it snowing in September. I can also vividly remember being near South Bend, Indiana, late in September and being snow bound in a hotel room.

Labor Day Inspection Checklist

The changing seasons bring to mind several things that facility managers should be preparing for. These include but are not limited to:

  • Constantly inspecting roofs and storm drains for debris and leaf buildup. Without preventive maintenance clogged gutters or debris on roofs can lead to water and ice intrusion into buildings.
  • Inspecting chimneys and other heating vents to ensure adequate and safe ventilation.
  • Inspecting, performing maintenance and testing of HVAC/heating pumps filters and coils.
  • Inspect and repair paved surfaces to protect against potholes and the damages they can cause to fleet or guest vehicles.
  • Scheduling the weatherproofing of pools and spas. This is especially important for Hotels, Resorts and Lodges.
  • Make sure generators are in good working condition and will operate efficiently. Poor efficiency will lead to higher energy bills.
  • Inspect seasonal assets not used during the winter months. Make sure they are secured appropriately and protected from freeze damage. Set periodic scheduled inspections until the Spring.
Preparing With EAM/CMMS Software

Asset and maintenance managers really only have two choices for making sure that all the inspections, preventive maintenance and minor repairs are completed before the weather takes a turn. They can prepare checklists, work requests and work orders manually or make use of modern tools like an EAM/CMMS. The issues with manual procedures should be obvious. Manual systems are time consuming, leave a poor audit trail and are likely to be left on the back burner as a result of reactive maintenance needs.

On the other hand, an EAM system or CMMS will help organize assets and tasks so that scheduling the complete work order lifecycle (inspections, work requests and work orders) can be computerized. When the additional features of an EAM are added the computerization of asset maintenance management provides for:

  • More time for proactive tasks as a result of time saving paperwork reduction. The more proactive you are in maintenance the less time will be required for reactive work.
  • Better tools for scheduling because facility managers have a much better handle on what needs to be done and can prioritize work better.
  • Greater asset detail including historical maintenance tracking for work request, work orders and inspections. Facility and property managers will know what has been done, when it was done and who completed the work.
  • Ensure better asset planning by collecting all asset documents and combining this with the maintenance database for capital budget planning. For example, an inspection may uncover substantial roof damage and a new roof will need to be placed in the capital budget.
  • Asset managers will always know the condition of their assets, where they are and what work needs to be done next.

Labor Day signifies the ability of labor to have greater control over their work environment. Remember this and take back control of your facilities with an EAM/CMMS to ensure a safe and productive environment.