6 Top Turnaround Fire Safety Considerations
Fire safety challenges during turnarounds and shutdowns often stem from the fact that personnel are performing non-routine work. It may involve using never seen equipment and tools, as well as dealing with many external contractors. In addition, there is the constant pressure to accomplish many tasks within a short amount of time along with budgetary restrictions. It isn’t unusual for these situations to come with risk. However, it is unusual to not prepare for these risks, especially one of the most hazardous to your operation and the surrounding areas: fire. Below are the top turnaround fire safety considerations to help you best mitigate this challenge.
Assign a manager – Each turnaround and shutdown usually has one manager in charge of all aspects, with as many sub-managers as needed for each task. One of these should be assigned the topic of safety, and in some cases, another specifically tasked with fire safety. These can be qualified personnel from within your operation or trusted contractors in your industry. These safety professionals work to ensure that any potential physical, mechanical, chemical, and other hazards are identified. They may then develop safe operating practices and appropriate protective measures for keeping workers safe,. Additionally, they may also develop contingency plans should the worst happen, such as the installation of chemical safety showers.
Don’t stray from the basics – It may be tempting to assume that personnel will continue their safety protocols, it is necessary to remind them of your standard safety procedures, as well as all additional precautions needed for the turnaround. For example, these measures generally involve the use of safety glasses and goggles, hard hats, safety shoes, hearing and respiratory protection, and protective or fire resistant clothing wherever necessary.
Each Industry is different – From something as seemingly harmless as food processing to the dangerous chemicals used in the petrochemical industry, each organization faces its own unique challenges, which you should familiarize yourself with. Safety procedures should be established among all to comply with any applicable regulations and standards. This includes confined space entry, hazard communications, and the management of process safety.
Restricted access – It essential to restrict dangerous area to essential personnel only in order to prevent any fire or other accidents. For example, unauthorized personnel may carry in flammable chemicals on their clothes or not be aware of certain fire safety protocols in fire-hazardous areas. Signage is useful, but we recommend having an advanced lock and key system with entry cards assigning each necessary worker the permission to access certain areas while keeping all others away.
Electrical hazards – Unfortunately, many fires begin due to electrical hazards. This can include wires being damaged or exposed during the moving of heavy equipment, hazardous liquids coming into contact with a live piece of machinery, and even overloads to the power grid, which can also cause fires. This is why all unused electrical equipment should be inspected and disconnected from a power source before work is performed in addition to other electrical safety procedures as needed.
Nitrogen purging – This pre-emptive fire safety consideration is meant to replace toxic and flammable materials with inert gas to reduce the potential of a fire or explosion by removing the oxygen from the system. It is recommended to perform a professional Nitrogen purging risk assessment beforehand. You may then apply control measures accordingly if a purge is right for your operation. Consider monitoring oxygen levels in the area to make sure it stays within safe levels wherever Nitrogen is used.
AMACS Assists with Turnaround Fire Safety Considerations
Shutdowns and turnarounds come with an extraordinary amount of stress, coupled with increased safety risks. Injuries may occur if these risks are not addressed and often come with budget overruns and delays. AMACS is a trusted partner to process plants during shutdowns and turnarounds, and can help reduce risks associated with column internals. Contact us today to see how we can help.