The top priority for a refinery turnaround is ensuring the refinery turnaround safety for employees, contractors, and anyone else on-site. Keeping people safe means addressing numerous challenges that pop up during a turnaround. This can be doubly challenging as some tasks may be taking place for the first time, and the presence of additional people in the form of contractors will only add to the difficulty.
Contractors and employees working on their first turnaround at a given site may not know the layout and equipment. Getting everyone up to speed and ensuring their safety is a lot for one team to take on. Luckily, there are direct ways to increase refinery turnaround safety and ultimately reduce injuries and litigation.
The Dangers of a Refinery Turnaround
Refineries are challenging environments that create safety considerations that must be taken into account. This is valid daily, but it is even more important to consider these challenges during a turnaround. With the number of tasks involved in a particular turnaround, including cleaning, repairs, confined spaces, roof access, and more, it’s essential to have a safety team at the ready that knows the environment.
The particular safety hazards of any given turnaround are too numerous to count. However, well-documented challenges come up in many turnarounds, and everyone on-site should be aware of them before starting any work to help mitigate injuries and risk. These challenges include, but are not limited to:
Slips or falls—The most commonly cited accidents by OSHA and turnarounds dramatically increase their risk. Turnarounds are demanding, and workers often try to complete tasks quickly, leading to increased spill hazards and a longer time to identify and remediate those issues.
Exposure—Depending on the turnaround location, such as a refinery or chemical plant, exposure to toxic chemicals is a possible consideration. Making the team aware of them and having experts on-site to handle them is critical to success and safety.
Equipment failure or collapse—Some turnarounds and shutdowns happen because of equipment failure. This can be due to defective equipment, and if the structural integrity of that equipment is failing, a collapse is possible.
Collisions—When heavy equipment is brought in to transport equipment, qualified personnel must operate it. Safety personnel on-site can help ensure this task goes smoothly to avoid collisions that ultimately result in injuries.
These are just some of the dangers that come with a turnaround. These jobs are already complex and costly without adding in injuries and litigation from events like those listed above. Skimping on safety will only lead to adverse outcomes, including medical costs, lost employee hours, lawsuits, and the loss of future work on the contractor side. That’s why the team at SITEX always recommends knowing what services exist that can reduce and prevent these issues.
Services That Can Mitigate Injuries
Refinery turnarounds come with unique needs like entering a tank, using hoists or rigs, working in confined spaces, and hole or fire watch needs. Hiring full-time employees for each of these requirements is expensive, and finding a partner that can address all of those needs can be difficult.
We understand that reducing costs is a priority for many companies, working with an inexperienced safety team can be disastrous. A team that understands and focuses on safety first and foremost will always be more effective. Having dedicated safety professionals keeps contractors and employees focused on the turnaround first and foremost. While the work is being done, safety professionals can focus on the inspections, audits, fit testing, and compliance assistance required to keep the worksite safe for all involved.
From the SITEX point of view, the goal is to ensure that workers can go home safely every day. We make that happen by offering extensive occupational safety and health services that include OSHA compliance audits, hazard inspections, tank entry supervisors, and safety supervisors. And if something goes wrong, we can make sure the right person is in the right place to keep people safe. Our in-depth on-site, IDLH, and confined space rescue services are conducted by certified professionals who are solely focused on your employees’ health.
Industrial hygiene is also a critical part of any refinery turnaround and SITEX can help handle those challenges as well. Whether it’s assessments and inspections that must happen before work can begin, monitoring for air quality and hazardous materials during the work, or response management in the event of a spill, our team has you covered when it comes to industrial hygiene needs.
Ensure Everyone Has the Right Equipment
Having the right equipment during a refinery turnaround is just as crucial as having in-depth EH&S services on-site. Equipment can be costly to purchase and even more expensive to maintain over a long period. Depending on the work being performed in a turnaround, there could be a need for tripods, retrieval devices, harnesses, monitoring and ventilation equipment, supplied air systems, or confined space database management systems.
These are specialized solutions that can require certified personnel to operate. SITEX is proud to offer these kinds of solutions to our clients and the people to handle them. By working with SITEX, clients can rent this equipment as it’s needed to avoid the heavy investments in specialized equipment and personnel. This helps to reduce the cost of a turnaround and ensure that the right equipment is on-site when it’s needed.
Outsource Safety Altogether if Needed
The current labor shortage is affecting many companies and their ability to remain competitive. It can be hard enough to hire employees that cover your core competencies, but trying to employ EH&S specialists on top of that can be downright impossible.
Some clients have their safety personnel and need to bolster their team with a few people, while others may require more services altogether. Either way, the ability to outsource safety altogether can bring massive cost savings and increase flexibility during turnarounds. That includes emergencies that lead to the need for rescue services that in-house employees may not be equipped to handle.
Outsourcing safety takes safety measures off the plate of our clients to focus on the work they were hired to do. For example, if a contractor was hired to demolish a building, there are numerous regulations and safety measures they need to follow. Getting the right people with the right experience in that situation can be difficult, not to mention costly. But, with a well-versed safety partner, that task is removed from their list altogether.
Contact us today to discuss your refinery turnaround needs regarding safety, industrial hygiene, equipment rentals, and more.