Plant shutdown is an example of non-routine activities and one of the most dangerous operation periods for a chemical plant. The bad news is that, as reported by tcetoday.com, around 70% of the major accidents occur during non-routine operations.
Because of this risk, you have to focus on safety during plant shutdown more than during normal plant operation.
Especially, when you face unexpected shutdown.
Take more care against unexpected shutdown rather than planned shutdown. It is because you have no plan at all and there may be hazards that you have never thought about.
That’s why you need a checklist to avoid forgetting important safety considerations during plant shut down.
A plant shutdown safety checklist will help you focus on safety better while carrying out the plant shutdown activities safely.
Follow the safety checklist below during unexpected plant shutdown periods to stay safe.
Plant Shutdown Safety Checklist
- Follow the plant shutdown procedure thoroughly.
You have to follow the procedure while performing plant shutdown. Do every step mentioned in the procedure until finish without modification. If you find difficulty when doing a certain step, ask your supervisor assistance.
- Provide clear special instruction if required.
It is very common that you, as the manager, will provide a special work instruction that is not mentioned in the shutdown procedure. Just make sure the instruction is clear and if possible provide related P&ID or drawing.
- Take quick action if any deviation occurs during the shutdown process.
Sometimes an unexpected event happens during the plant shutdown process. Take action quickly and properly to avoid a bigger problem. Record what is the problem and what action you have taken.
- Carry out nitrogen gas blowing or substitution completely.
Do not rely on Lower Explosion Limit (LEL) value when you need to judge nitrogen gas blowing or substitution finish. Blowout flammable gas completely until zero.
- Carry out water flushing completely.
If the shutdown procedure requires water flushing for a pipeline or equipment, make sure you have done it completely. Measure the result. Do not guess it. An example of the chemical that requires water flushing is hydrogen peroxide.
- Carry out pipe isolation perfectly.
When you will do a repair work during the plant shutdown, make sure you have isolated the related piping. Close all the block valves and it had better if you insert blind plate for extra prevention.
- Consider process isolation.
For a bigger risk, pipe isolation will be not enough. You have to isolate one process from other processes. This is extremely important when there are several processes that are still running.
- Line check after the plant shutdown.
You have to make sure valve status for each line in the processes already meet the procedures. Do line check after you complete the shutdown process. Use a checklist this job.
- Communicate any change made.
Frequently, you will need to change some valve positions from open to close or reversely, which is slightly different with the procedure. That’s very common operation. But, do not forget to make a record for that change and communicate that change with others.
- Do not bypass safety instrumentation.
In general, safety instrumentation is still working even though the plant is in shutdown. So, do not bypass this safety instrumentation.
- Maintain regular safety patrol at the site.
Regular safety patrol is still necessary while the plant shutdown. Keep this activity. And make sure your partners will do the same.
- Look for flammable gas or liquid leakage.
Shutdown period is a good time for your to look for pipe or equipment leakage, mainly ones that contain flammable materials. Repair them immediately.
- Don’t forget to get safety work permit even if you are in hurry.
There is no exception that a job can be done without safety work permit. Say no to your supervisor to do a job without a permit even though he says it is very urgent.
- Carry out hot work outside the plant area.
If there is a hot work that will be done during the shutdown period, carry out that job away from the plant. Take out the spool pipe or equipment and repair it at a safe place with lower fire risk. But, if it is impossible, take extra precautions prior to the hot work.
- Handover unfinished jobs completely.
Any plant shutdown activities have to be handed over completely. Tell everything in details. What step that is already done, in progress and remaining jobs.
- Use shutdown safety slogans.
Finally, I recommend you to use safety slogans that are specially designed for shutdown period. The main purpose to use it is to keep your awareness against any potential hazards.