Figuring out what work orders to respond to first can be somewhat challenging. One of the difficult aspects of prioritizing maintenance work orders is that everyone thinks that their problem is urgent. To a certain extent, you can’t blame them because each person’s productivity is important.

But as a maintenance manager, you have to be able to find a way to rank your orders by their importance to put your team where they are most needed. The best way of doing this is to assess the maintenance request in light of a few factors.

How to categorize urgent requests

Urgent maintenance work orders fall under a few main categories, including emergency, high-impact, and safety. Let’s take a look at each of these urgent request categories and the types of work orders that you might see about them.


You might get maintenance work requests that the submitter labels as an emergency that aren’t really all that serious. However, there are several types of requests you should not ignore and should send a technician out for immediately.

  • Any life-threatening maintenance needs or serious safety issues
  • Foodservice freezer breakdowns or malfunctions
  • Fire alarms, either going off or malfunctioning
  • Elevator malfunctions with people on board
  • Gas leaks or reports of a gas smell
  • Server room or AC power loss, which poses a threat to your servers
  • Total power loss or exposed power that presents a safety risk
  • Loss of water to the building 
  • Flooding or overflowing plumbing 

High-impact work orders

As a maintenance manager, your job is to keep your business operations running smoothly. So even if a work order does not indicate an emergency, it might indicate large impacts on your operations. 

These are not as serious or urgent as the emergency requests and can often mean that the maintenance technician can finish what they are currently working on and then head over to the high-impact issue. Here’s a look at high-impact work orders.

  • Minor leaks that with time could cause a serious problem
  • Isolated power loss
  • HVAC malfunction
  • The building cannot be locked and secured
  • An unoccupied broken elevator
  • Nighttime loss of lighting
  • Business-specific priorities based on your discussions with management and each department to ensure operations run smoothly

Safety hazards

Safety hazards pose a risk for workers’ compensation claims, lost productivity, and visitor safety. Address safety hazards quickly to avoid them from becoming a larger issue for your organization. Safety hazards include:

  • Trip hazards
  • Slip and fall hazards
  • Areas with sharp edges
  • Sinkholes
  • Dangerous walkways
  • Breaks in railings/missing railings

Low priority maintenance requests

Spotting low priority maintenance requests shouldn’t be too difficult. These requests do not have a set date they need completed by and pose no safety risks to anyone. These requests might include:

  • Scheduled maintenance, though the longer you put this off, it could become urgent if it leads to a breakdown
  • Painting
  • Mounting or building shelves
  • Hanging photos
  • Janitorial requests that pose no sense of urgency and no safety hazards of trips, slips, or falls

How to manage maintenance work orders

The best way to manage maintenance work orders is through a computerized maintenance management solution (CMMS). Using this type of software solution, you can easily categorize your requests and assign them to the appropriate technician. The technician will get notifications and be able to better prioritize their workday as well.

Eagle CMMS offers work order management, preventative maintenance scheduling, asset management, IoT system connectivity, artificial intelligence integration, and much more. Call us at 262-241-3845 or send us an email or schedule a demo to learn more.