Monday, 13 February 2017

Workplace Safety & Turnaround

Workplace Safety & Turnaround: The Daily Inspection and Spot Check

Spring is a time of renewal in nature. A similar theme can be found in the workplace as production plants and refineries across many industries plan for and then engage in “Turnaround”, annual events where plants will shut down, or minimize operations, and conduct maintenance to the machines, infrastructure, and the plant.

Workplace Safety & Turnaround

Safety team at Plant Turnaround Inspection.Workplace safety is a large part of Turnaround due to the fact that maintenance activities are involving the expertise of contractors and tradespeople who may not be familiar with the plant. Additionally, employees may be conducting projects or duties that only occur during Turnaround.
As Turnaround time is ripe for safety hazards, Clients will commonly issue zero tolerance for acts of misconduct, expecting that personnel are:
  • On Schedule
  • On Budget
  • Performing Quality Work on Projects
  • Adherence to Procedures
  • Excellence in Safety Performance
Workplace safety during Turnaround is paramount. This is a matter of protecting people’s lives and/or well-being during a period of change within facilities that are inherently hazardous. As such, most Turnarounds will make use of a dedicated safety team. Involving safety managers, coordinators, controllers and/or inspectors, their job is to monitor the safety situation throughout the Turnaround, handle inspections, emergencies, and providing consultation on safety matters. It is a complex process involving considerable coordination and expertise.
With the number of personnel on site it is common to see spot check assessments, in addition to the regular inspections. The distinctions are:
Safety Inspection:
A checklist activity, safety officers assess specific work projects to determine:
Unsafe Acts – Is a worker putting others at risk due to unsafe acts, intentional or otherwise?
Unsafe Conditions – Is the immediate work environment putting its workers at risk? This would include housekeeping, an assessment of the work environment tidiness, and the enforcement of good housekeeping.
Safety Inspections are a preventive measure meant to adhere to the expectation of Clients and occupational health & safety. All actions are dealt with quickly by competent workers.
Spot Check Assessments:
A Spot Check is a random selection of a workplace operation, and an analysis on how well the workers are conducting themselves safely for a particular task. If faults in the task are found by the safety team, then it must be recorded and corrected. That rectification then becomes a point of focus at the workers’ next safety inspection. The daily Hazard ID, individual worker training, and procedures are reviewed for correctness and how they are followed.
Take a moment to consider your organization’s current approach to conducting Safety Inspections and Spot Checks during Turnaround. How can you improve your own processes and procedures?

Turnaround Planning

Operating industrial plant sites is difficult and challenging at best. At one time or another all operating units must shutdown to upgrade or recondition equipment, conduct tie-ins, or make inspections or repairs. Many times these events present more challenges because experienced personnel may be limited. Teaming with Process Technical Services (PTS) can help make your shutdown be on time, within budget, and back in operation safely and efficiently. Our competent personnel are skilled in turnaround planning and know how to put the pieces together to insure a successful turnaround. Since 1987, PTS has provided professional and technical support services industry wide with the systems, experience and reliability required of today’s workforce.
A shutdown involves stopping process operations, de-inventorying the process, and cleaning up the process so that it is safe for maintenance personnel to open and work on the equipment. Careful turnaround planning is essential to ensure that all work is completed in a safe, effective, and timely manner
After the plant is shut down it can be decommissioned and placed in a standby state for an extended period of time, it can be decommissioned and dismantled, or it can be repaired or modified and placed back in service. This latter situation is where careful turnaround planning can reduce the downtime, while ensuring that high standards of workmanship and safety are maintained.
Most shutdowns occur to correct a situation with the process that is posing a safety, environmental, quality or capacity problem. All shutdowns are comprised of both planned and unplanned elements. The unplanned events usually occur from discoveries made after the plant is shutdown. These unplanned events can sometimes greatly extend the downtime, unless the turnaround planning has anticipated and planned for the unexpected. Careful turnaround planning can reduce the number and extent of unplanned activities.
The planning and scheduling tools used during the construction and commissioning of a process plant can also be utilized effectively for shutdowns and turnaround planning. Replacement materials must be carefully identified and located at the site to facilitate using them to replace or repair used materials. Testing of relief valves must be performed. Refurbishing of process flow control valves may be necessary, pumps refurbished, heat exchangers cleaned, plugged and/or retubed, distillation column packing examined and repaired, compressors serviced, and control system sensors checked and replaced if necessary. The list of things that need to be accomplished during an annual or biennial turnaround is nearly endless.
In some respects turnaround planning is more complex than the original pre-commissioning activities. During the pre-commissioning (construction) phase, the plant was simply being assembled from its parts. During a turnaround half the work involves disassembly of the plant before new and refurbished parts can be re-installed. Often this requires special techniques and tools.
Industries such as petrochemical, chemical, refining, fertilizer, gas separation, LNG, LPG, GTL, food and drug, pulp and paper, hazardous waste, pipeline, terminal, and power generation have relied on PTS. The highly qualified specialists employed by PTS have made it a technical services leader worldwide by providing industry with practical, dependable, and proven methods. PTS specialists include managers, supervisors, engineers, designers, advisors, operators, I/E technicians and mechanical personnel for all types of projects requiring turnaround planning.

Shutdown Scheduling

Once shutdown planning is well underway, the process of shutdown scheduling begins. During the planning and scheduling phases of a shutdown, there should be corresponding efforts in procurement, engineering, maintenance, operations, quality assurance, HSE & security, and administration in support of the work to be done before, during, and after the shutdown. To ensure these shutdown planning activities are tracked and completed, they should be included on the master execution schedule.
Process Technical Services has qualified and experienced personnel that can assist in developing the shutdown plans and shutdown schedule and the shutdown supporting activities in all participating areas.
Shutdown planning is used as input for shutdown scheduling. When shutdown scheduling starts, the units that will be shutdown are known, their shutdown duration is specified as are the number of workers available and the number required for the shutdown. Since shutdown planning is an iterative process, performed by different people, the information for the scheduling phase could change. Therefore the shutdown schedule should be periodically updated, which makes the interaction between planning and scheduling iterative as well.
Scheduling the shutdown maintenance activities can be done before the scheduling of production, or along with the scheduling of production. In the first case, maintenance periods are already known and fixed at the time when equipment must be shutdown because of legal, manpower, shop fabrication limitations, or other constraints.
In the case of large single-line process units all units in the line will usually be shut down at nearly the same time. The ability to sequence the shutdown of large single-line units is determined primarily by intermediate storage capacity. Occasionally, product can be purchased from a competitor to sustain customers until the units are returned to service.
In a refinery the flow of components between units is scheduled separately from the shutdown. Usually the maintenance department schedules the shutdown and the production department schedules production. If the shutdown schedule were to be developed independently of the production schedule, then no consideration would be given to the capability of the production department to store components and to buy or sell them. Since a refinery consists of several complex processes, cooperation and coordination between the maintenance and production departments will produce a better overall schedule. This results in better efficiency during the shutdown period.
Shutdown scheduling does not end with the shutdown of the process for maintenance work. Beginning with the first day of the shutdown, the maintenance work should be monitored closely and changes in both the plans and the schedule should be kept current with events in the field. A change in the plans can arise because of hidden problems that were not discovered until after the process was shut down and equipment opened for inspection. Changes in plans require corresponding changes in shutdown scheduling.
Changes in plans can develop in the event that critical resources are not available as previously assumed. If the needed manpower is not available, then a schedule change is required. In large scale shutdowns, early changes in the plans and schedule can ripple through the entire shutdown planning process causing changes in shutdown scheduling of later projects, and possibly extending the duration of the shutdown.
Any delays in the startup of the upgraded facilities may result in changes to the production department plans for supplying customers. Without a current set of the plans and schedule the upsets that occur early in the shutdown operations can produce unnecessary complications and delays near the end of the shutdown.
With qualified and experienced personnel from Process Technical Services assisting in the shutdown scheduling process, the time to develop the original shutdown schedule and update it during the operations phase of the shutdown will be done more quickly and with fewer chances for error.

Quality Assurance In Construction

Quality assurance in construction can be defined simply as making sure the quality of construction is what it should be. Process Technical Resources has qualified and experienced personnel that can plan and perform the systematic steps necessary for a program of quality assurance in construction.
Quality assurance in construction involves all those planned and systematic actions necessary to provide confidence that the facility will perform satisfactorily in service. Quality assurance in construction addresses the overall problem of obtaining the quality of the facility to be built in the most efficient, economical, and satisfactory manner possible. Within this broad context, quality assurance involves continued evaluation of the activities of planning, design, development of plans and specifications, advertising and awarding of contracts, construction, and maintenance, and the interactions of these activities.
In its broadest form quality assurance includes quality control as one of its elements. Quality control is the responsibility of the contractor, while quality assurance also includes acceptance. Acceptance involves sampling, testing, and the assessment of test results to determine whether or not the quality of construction is acceptable in terms of the specifications.
Construction planning is a complex process that must be kept current with the actual construction taking place in the field. The construction plans, just in terms of day-to-day changes, must be kept up-to-date. However, in the ebb and flow of events during construction there are usually a number of schedule changes that arise as a result of unforeseen events. Failure to keep the construction planning dynamic and up-to-date can create confusion and delays.
Not only must the plans keep pace with the daily events communication of the changes in the construction plans must be disseminated quickly to the affected personnel.
Quality assurance in construction requires that the procedures for incorporating design changes into the construction plans be well developed and fully utilized. The earlier that design changes are recognized and implemented the lower the cost. Quality assurance efforts in construction must closely monitor how well management of the design, and change of design processes are functioning. These represent the quality issues that need to be monitored during the quality assurance effort and acceptance testing.
Another area of activity for quality assurance in construction that must be continuously monitored is the development of plans and specifications. Architectural and engineering plans and specifications often change during the construction phase of a complex project. It is important that the procedures for incorporating these changes into the construction plans be well developed and consistently followed.
In order to minimize construction cost while meeting all of the specifications in the plans and design requires that the advertising for bids and awarding of contracts be closely monitored. The qualifications of the contractors and subcontractors to perform the services advertised and meet the quality requirements should be examined carefully all during the construction phase of the project. This is an element in the program for quality assurance in construction.
Finally, the actual construction activities should be closely monitored to ensure that the engineering plans and specifications are being met or exceeded throughout the construction process.
Process Technical Resources has experienced quality assurance personnel that can develop a quality assurance in construction program that meets the needs and requirements of the project owner.

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