The Move Toward Proactive Safety Measures in Refineries – Part 2

In our last blog we discussed the move toward proactive safety measures in refineries, and wanted to continue. Proactive safety refers to the continuing practice of stopping incidents before they occur rather than waiting to react after the fact. High-octane fuels, plastics, and many other complex materials are processed inside petrochemical plants and refining facilities. The entire process can be highly volatile, so safety is critically important for workers and the plant’s neighbors.

  1. Leak Prevention

Did you know leaks are not always the result of a faulty part or component? In many cases, they are the result of human error and occur during or before the installation of the equipment.  Operators should be provided with and adhere to the guidelines of assembly and installation to ensure long-term reliability. Other benefits include leak resistance and process safety. This goes double where dangerous liquids or gases are involved. Leak hazards are likely to occur in the following:

  • Tube bending and routing.
  • Support for tubing.
  • Improper tubing materials.
  • Incorrect tube fitting assembly

Poor system design can also be an issue, which is why only experts should be used to designed systems, as well as inspect and test them.

We also see a number of leak issues arising from mixing incorrect supplies, materials, etc. These products may not always be compatible and result in premature breakdown. This is why we recommend selecting all components from a single, trusted vendor who can reduce or eliminate the risk of incompatibility in components. This is especially true when doing so during shutdowns and turnarounds.

  1. Go Within

Do you have workers who were involved in an incident in the past? The incident could have occurred while currently working at your organization or during previous experience. Is the incident they experienced relevant to current working conditions? Select at least three workers to go over their past incidents and get a better view on how they occurred. You may ask them:

  • Did they respond to the incident in accordance with their training and qualifications? If not, did the incident occur because of:
    • Not being trained to proper awareness of worker with their qualifications.
    • The employer left out a step in its emergency response program.
    • The employer had the emergency step but it was not possible to implement.
  • Did the worker not have the proper training for their station?
  • Did the worker fail to perform the proper steps within the proper time?
  • Did the reporting agent fail to perform the proper steps in the proper time?
  1. Securing PPE

No matter what the scenario, personal protective equipment is essential to all refineries as a proactive safety measure, as well as in being in compliance with industry regulations. All PPE should be inspected, approved, and in good working condition. Common refinery PPE includes but is not limited to:

  • Eye and face protection – glasses, goggles, shields, welding and cutting PPE.
  • Head protection – hard hats , etc.
  • Hand and foot protection
  • Flame resistant clothing (FRC) – proper garment specs for each material, chemical resistant garments.
  • Proper laundry, proper alterations, etc.

The requirements of PPE must apply to all workers, contractors, vendors, and visitors working at or near the refinery. Make it clear that all employees are responsible for the safe use, selection, and maintenance of PPE. Have clear PPE requirements in your safety policies and be sure everyone has read and signed off on them.

  1. Read Up on Safety

There are tons of refineries across the globe, nation, and even in your own region. Do they publish their safety information? What about case studies? Are there any incidents that have been reported in the news? Read them all to see if any of their scenarios apply to your own operation. For example, there is this excellent study on Fire & Explosion Prevention Strategy in Refineries that is full of useful information.

Added Proactive Safety Measures During Shutdowns and Turnarounds

The AMACS team has led the refinery industry in implementing safe measures during the installation of our equipment, whether new construction or during turnarounds and shutdowns. We accomplish this by providing state of the art packing, tray, mist eliminators, feed inlet devices, wedge wire screens, and more. Contact us if you’d like to learn more about how AMACS can be a trusted partner during your next shutdown or turn