Plant Shutdown Safety Procedures

plant shutdown

Routine plant shutdowns are your opportunity to tackle preventative maintenance, changeovers, upgrades, or any other projects that can’t be factored into a daily operating schedule, but safety must be a priority. Your plant must do everything in its power to get your employees ready to operate safely and efficiently when the planned outage disrupts their everyday routines. Questions about how ProcessBarron can support your plant during outage season? Reach out to us here.

The Importance of Plant Safety Shutdown Checklists

Your plant shutdown procedures should help you keep projects on track and ensure worker safety. Planning for outages includes outlining a budget, prioritizing maintenance tasks, and securing the resources needed to finish on time. 

Shutdown events are often scheduled years in advance, which means your to-do list can get long. You can ensure your team’s safety by reviewing potential safety hazards and incorporating safeguards into plans and procedures for each task and project.

Common Safety Hazards

Consider these common hazards when developing your plant safety shutdown checklist.

Working on Ladders, Scaffolds, and Elevated Platforms

Cleaning, painting, and other projects can require employees to work on ladders, scaffolds, or other elevated platforms. If they aren’t used to working up high, they’ll need adequate training and instructions before they begin working. A qualified person should evaluate job assignments that require employees to work on an elevated structure.

Confined Spaces

Shutdowns are an important time for cleaning and performing maintenance in hard-to-reach areas in your facility, but OSHA’s restrictions on work in confined spaces may come into play. OSHA defines “confined spaces” by considering factors like whether an area: 

  • Is big enough for a worker to enter but isn’t intended for continuous occupancy 
  • Has limited means of entry
  • Has insufficient oxygen
  • Could pose an inhalation hazard

The people planning and performing these tasks should clearly understand OSHA’s regulations that affect work in confined spaces. Secure proper permits before workers enter these areas.

Temporary Power Solutions 

Using extension cords as a permanent energy source is one of the more frequently cited OSHA violations, but shutdowns are a great time to provide more permanent electrical wiring solutions. While a certified electrician will know all of the hazards present in these situations, other workers might not. Ensure you know all the possible risks and implement the correct training before any work begins.

Draining Pipelines

Draining pipelines creates the perfect opportunity to replace worn sections of pipe, couplers, pumps, and fittings, but drained pipes may contain hazardous vapors and residual liquids. You must verify that the lines are completely clear of potentially hazardous liquids or gasses that pose serious risks. Make sure you know precisely what the pipelines contained before being drained and whether or not a permit is required to work on them.

Additional Factors to Consider For Your Plant Shutdown Safety Checklist

There are several items to consider for any plant shutdown safety checklist. 

  • Verify that contractors have minimum liability protection and proof of worker’s insurance coverage
  • Ensure all personnel understand lock out/tag out (LOTO) procedures and PPE requirements 
  • Check all electrical equipment for wear and tear and verify connections are still tight
  • Mark potential hazards with highly visible signage

Every action you take to outline your plant shutdown procedures clearly will help ensure a successful outage in a safe environment. 
Safety and efficiency are also year-round goals. Here are a few tips from our experts on how to keep your plant up and running 24/7/365.

Communicate Your Plant Shutdown Procedures

Nothing is more important than communication with your team. Let them know where they will be needed, update them on new processes, and identify potential risks. Your facility needs a list of planned projects for each shutdown, and each task should have a clear objective and plan. 

Document and share plant shutdown procedures that must be followed. Involve everyone in discussions about plans and procedures, including supervisors, managers, and all workers involved. The timelines for all projects should be realistic, and the proper tools and equipment should be available—planning in advance is crucial. 

This is the only way to ensure that any specialized training or equipment necessary for the project is available before work begins. You can utilize plant shutdowns to improve processes and get everything done with these things in mind.
Are you interested in learning more about how your facility shutdown procedures can equip your plant for safety and success? Contact ProcessBarron today to ensure maximum efficiency for your plant!