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As many manufacturing operations, processes and even entire buildings may be temporarily removed from service from time to time, it is important to consider safe start up and turnaround measures now. In any process, the shutdown and restart operations present the greatest risk, even when well-planned and well-managed.

A “turnaround” is an event during which one or more processing or production units are removed from service temporarily. A poorly planned or executed shut down or turnaround can be a dangerous proposition.

Start up and turnaround can also be overwhelming if managed as a single, standalone event. Facilities should have effective communication, provide workers with appropriate training, and have in place strong and current policies and procedures for hazardous operations.

Define Responsibilities for Safety and Success

Responsibilities should be established for the pre-startup safety review plan at the facility. Senior management representatives should be designated to ensure that pre-startup safety reviews are conducted and documented within each specific area and department. To help manage the process:

  • Define the Scope Planning, scoping and organization is essential for safe turnaround. Turnarounds are high cost, high impact events, and you must have a strategy in place to execute safely. Involve all levels of the organization, especially the environmental, health and safety (EHS) team.
  • Prepare – Make sure your EHS plans are ready to address safe plant start up. Consider logistics for storage, protection, equipment, services, and utilities. Work plans should detail job scope, manpower, contractors, and labor hours. Safety steps, permitting, drawings and photos are all an essential part of the process.
  • Execution Execute the known items in the plan, and prepare for the unknowns too, such as scope changes. Inspect the main assets while equipment is down. Recommission testing must validate safety and readiness to return equipment to normal operation. Testing activities will likely need electricians, technicians, process control staff, vendors, and operations staff.
  • Start Up and Turnover – After testing is completed, final inspection by operations, maintenance, and vendors must evaluate readiness for service. After equipment is operational, ramp up can begin. Upon completion, review the turnaround to update EHS plans, key performance indicators, punch lists, contractor management, shut down/start-up/ramp-up, critical path and lessons learned.

Safety Tips When Managing the Turnaround

Often, there are additional employees and contractors used to assist, and they might be new to the plant and safety procedures. Existing employees might be asked to perform new tasks in isolated, confined or hazardous areas of the facility, elevating risk. Certain risks are part of the shutdown process, such as exposure to toxic chemicals, the unexpected release of energy from machines, the reality of damaged or defective equipment and electrical hazards.

Careful safety planning of any turnaround is critical. Planning should include developing, documenting and communicating safety procedures between different facility operations. Ensure your safety plan details all shutdown and turnaround activities to identify potential risks and hazards. Click here to view a check list of considerations.