Chemical Plant: Safety and Health Guide
OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has created guidelines to aid employers in reducing the number of potential hazards that could occur within a chemical industry. This publication is made specifically for review and safety precautions, which should guard against accidents involving chemicals. It contains information about employer safety programs especially during emergency or disaster prevention responses; it also includes two lists of severely toxic chemicals whose appearance at work indicates there needs to be health and safety rules put into place to protect workers who are exposed on a daily basis
A modern workplace might not consist of a single industry, but rather be made up of different ones. Guidelines for chemical companies are set in place to make sure that all employees follow safety guidelines and regulations when handling chemicals at their workplace.
Guidelines aim at the conditions and processes found in the chemical industry, including (but not limited to) firms in SICs 28 and 29, however, these guidelines are used in a broad spectrum of workplaces that consume chemicals and produce industrial products.
It is important to take appropriate steps before going into an emergency response system analysis because having a clear idea of the process and how it operates during normal conditions will make understanding any changes more precise.
Step One – Key processes and operational measures
The first step in this case would be figuring out what key processes are involved, as well as identifying by looking at operational measures that keep within safe bounds under normal operating conditions. Making sure these factors stay constant for situations where there’s no danger helps not only employees but also those who may come across accidents like natural disasters or chemical spills.
The four areas mentioned below identify major subsystems or components commonly found in chemical plants. Everyone has a bearing on the safety of operations under normal and emergency conditions.
- Management Subsystem – includes management personnel, process specifications, standard operating procedures, plant design, and the written emergency plan.
- Personnel Subsystem– assigns and defines roles for both routine and emergency operations and provides appropriate training. That may also include management safety committees.
- Physical Subsystem – includes transportation systems for ventilation systems, materials, waste removal systems, refrigeration systems, containment systems, storage areas, communications systems, and other process-related equipment.
- Emergency Services Subsystem – includes the plant and community components.
Step Two – Key processes and operational measures
The second step is understanding how critical failure points are identified and what controls are used to ensure safe operations. That involves assessing the interrelation of the components and identifying which safety features in the system should be backed up. With alternative equipment designed, instrumentation, or procedures to ensure that the process variables keep within safe limits.
Step Three – Key processes and operational measures
The third step is identifying the emergency response system that is embedded in the operating system. Conceptually, it is a latent system active only when the preventative rules have failed and the incident occurs. This system can be complicated to evaluate because:
- It may not be observable except in emergencies.
- The emergency response system also may involve subsystems and resources that lie partially or wholly outside of the organizational or physical boundaries of the chemical plant. For instance, local firefighters will supplement in-plant fire brigades. Local hospitals can provide care to injured employees, additionally, into in-plant first aid. Local police can be involved with evacuating workers and the community, traffic control, expediting communications, and the flow of rescue and emergency equipment.
- Finally, defining the emergency system’s point “shuts down,” and normal operations begin after an emergency.
All the preparation and planning of safe plant operations is meaningless unless it can be implemented. In the case of a problem, there is no time for the front office or committee decisions. Correct decisions need to be made at the lowest organizational level possible. Those decisions need to be communicated to other affected personnel. This section is designed to establish whether those factors have been recognized in the program.
- What are the lines of authority under the normal operating conditions?
- Who is in charge during transition times, like during shutdown and startup procedures?
- Who is in charge during emergencies?
- Can information be transmitted easily and quickly from worker to supervisor? Supervisor to the worker?
- How is information exchange fulfilled during transition periods (starting and stopping work)?
- Do those affected by the vocabulary understand operator jargon? For example, Black Betsy — boiler, MIC — methyl isocyanate, Monitor — stationary fireman nozzles.
- Are signals clear?
- Are audible signals understood and distinguishable?
- How is management with demands of the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR 1910.1200)?
- Are training records, monitoring records, and material safety data sheets available?
- Standard operating procedures need to be examined and discussed. Should understand the process of updating these procedures — including modifications, communication, and training.
- Does a written emergency plan exist?
- Has the emergency plan been discussed with management? It needs to be understood which contingencies are included in the program, why they are included, and why management considers them adequate for the process, site, and situation.
There can be many pieces of equipment in the plant that can be considered ancillary to the production processes, however these systems still need to be properly inspected, present, and functional. For example:
- Emergency eyewash stations or shower(s).
- Fixed fire suppression equipment.
- Portable fireman equipment.
Questions that need to be about these systems include:
- What capacity do they have?
- How often are they tested?
- Have they passed inspections?
- Is the equipment satisfactory and sufficient for the anticipated emergency?
Maintenance and Inspection
All equipment needs to be shut down sometimes, no matter how infrequently. When safety systems are shut down, what backup systems or methods are available to offer replacement protection? For example, if a shut off pipe can isolate safety release valves, are there steps to ensure that the system is protected from over-pressurization, such as a person stationed to monitor pressure?
Other questions to take into consideration when it comes to maintenance and inspection is:
- What system is in place to make sure that maintenance of critical safety features is corrected immediately?
- What ensures that more minor essential elements are updated within a reasonable period?
Pressure vessels also need periodic testing and inspection because of potential corrosion and normal wear either at welds or in the base material. The combination of volume and pressure determines the hazard. High volume, low-pressure systems can have the same potential energy for release as low volume, high-pressure scenarios.
When potentially corrosive chemicals are used (for example, caustics, acids), or the plant atmosphere is corrosive (example: near the ocean or chemical releases within the plant). What measures are taken to make sure system integrity?
Protective Systems (not quality control)
Cooling or heating systems may be for product control or safety control. Cooling can be necessary to prevent a runaway reaction in reaction vessels, also cooling systems can cool reactive chemicals in storage to give more time to respond to an initiated reaction.
- What protective devices are there for the cooling or heating systems?
- Backup systems or redundancies?
- Temperature alarms?
- Procedural controls?
- Are heat transfer materials for heating or cooling incompatible with reactive materials?
- Are manual valves located in safe areas?
- Is refrigeration automatically actuated in emergencies?
- Are there explosion suppression systems?
- How are they tested and maintained?
- Are intermittent backup provisions implemented and power failures considered?
- Are systems inserted to eliminate contaminants that may be reactive materials or catalysts?
- Passivating piping and vessels or components (before system startup)
- We provide an inert gas atmosphere like a nitrogen blanket on flammable materials.
- Submerging reactive materials (like sodium in kerosene).
Do heaters and furnaces have:
- Adequate draft?
- Pressure relief devices?
- Fuel controls?
- Combustion safeguards?
- Water or liquid level indicators?
- High-temperature aladsrms?
- Positive fuel ignition?
- Emergency shutoff facilities?
- Backflow protection?
Also Read: IMPACT OF CHEMICAL INDUSTRY