Top Safety Considerations During a Shutdown or Turnaround
Ensuring workplace safety for employees, contractors, and visitors is the leading priority for a shutdown or turnaround. These can present numerous challenges for safety and involve workers carrying out many tasks which are not routine and may be being performed for the first time. Additionally, a significant number of contractors may be working on site that have never visited before and have little knowledge of the layout of equipment and processes.
Challenging environments – No plant is ideal, and this is a major safety consideration during a shutdown or turnaround. For example, tasks such as cleaning, repairs, and inspections must often be done in isolation and can involve confined spaces, climbing to certain distances, roof access, basement access, etc.
- Exposure – Especially in the case of chemical plant shutdowns and turnaround, exposure to toxic chemicals is a serious safety consideration. These chemicals can include acidic ones, flammable gases and liquids, toxic fumes, airborne fibers, and other contaminants. Plants that use or may have certified hazardous materials such as asbestos, PCBs, lead, mercury, and catalyst handling should have the corresponding teams on hand to see to them.
- Equipment collapse – Shutdowns often happen because a piece of equipment has shown to be defective. For example, a piece of equipment that has been leaking may have its structural integrity and can collapse in an attempt to move it.
- Electrical hazards – Similar to the above, a piece of defective equipment may pose a risk if it is electrically malfunctioning, which is why electrical equipment should be inspected and disconnected from a power source before work is done on it.
- Collisions – During shutdowns, heavy machinery may be brought in to transport equipment. It is essential that this machinery be operated by qualified personnel and that they receive guidance from someone outside the vehicle when moving equipment that can obstruct their view.
- Proper storage – During a plant shutdown, all hazardous and dangerous materials should be properly stored and kept out of the work area. Every air and gas cylinder should have its main valves closed when not being used. Cylinders should be securely stored with regulators removed and safety caps installed at the end of each shift.
- Slip and falls – This is the accident most cited by OSHA in the workplace and is more likely to happen during a shutdown. Due to the haste and demanding schedule of the turnaround, workers are both more likely to spill slip hazards and be slower to identify or address them.
Shutdowns and turnarounds are expensive enough when they run smoothly. It is essential to keep safety in mind in order to perform an efficient operation, as well as keep workers safe. Those who skimp on safety are likely to see a negative ROI when factoring in items such as the number of injury incidents, medical costs, lost man hours, and even lawsuits. AMACS’ Field Service Advisors are a valuable asset during shutdowns and turnarounds, and provide an extra layer of counsel concerning safety issues.
Our team wants to partner with you to provide hardware and tower internals for your next shutdown or turnaround. Just call or e-mail us with your requirements and we’ll respond quickly!