How to prioritize maintenance work orders

April 6, 2018

Broken elevator with caution tape

Sometimes it seems like every work order demands to be “top priority.” This can be frustrating and overwhelming for a busy facilities manager, but in the words of Douglas Adams, “don’t panic.” Here is a quick guideline to help you prioritize your work orders.


For starters, about 80% of your work orders should be labeled as “Medium” priority. Situations that don’t fall into that category can be classified as follows:


Emergency. This is the “drop everything and do this now” category. Only about 2% of work orders should be deemed worthy of this category. Emergency situations include:

  • Life threatening & safety issues
  • Fire alarms
  • Gas leaks or smell of gas
  • Exposed power or total power loss
  • Loss of water to entire building or flood/overflowing plumbing
  • Power or a/c loss in the server rooms
  • People stuck in elevator
  • And failing food service freezers, etc.


High. Meaning “finish your current job, then do this immediately.” Your staff should know to call you if their current job will take longer than an hour. This includes:

  • Minor leaks
  • Power loss
  • HVAC loss
  • Unable to lock & secure the building
  • Anything you or your clients say is a priority
  • Broken elevator (empty)
  • And loss of lighting at night, etc.


Safety. These safety concerns are a higher priority than medium. Get to these tasks as soon as possible. These include trip hazards, sink holes, sharp edges, etc.


Low. This should be rarely used. Examples might include installing shelving, hanging pictures, painting an office that is beyond normal maintenance painting, non-emergency janitorial requests, etc.


Scheduled. This should be used for work that either needs to be planned in advance or work that is seasonal. This may include contracted work or work that may need to be scheduled when workers are out of the building. This can include things like roof drain and gutter cleaning, outside maintenance, etc.


For more information on improving efficiency and properly running your facility, contact Vanguard Resources.