From the dangers of charging batteries to the importance of change management: The Top 5 industrial risks
The expert recommends paying particular attention to the location of loading areas, as well as contact with certain materials inside combustible buildings and proximity to machinery critical to industrial processes.
How? Romera suggests charging batteries safely, ensuring that areas are well-ventilated, maintaining a safe distance from risks posed by others and, where possible, separating areas with fire-resistant partitions in order to mitigate the risks. The insurer’s approach is to go beyond regulatory requirements in terms of maintenance and safety.
A fire in a meat production plant, which put the entire plant at risk, was analyzed during the webinar. The expert stressed that a hot work permit is necessary in all facilities where work cannot be carried out in a suitable and permanently designated area. He also emphasized that hazardous areas (with an explosive atmosphere) should be avoided, combustible materials removed and vulnerable areas protected.
If hot work is to be carried out in a certain area, it is important to check that said area is not hazardous. Failing that, a permit should be implemented, for which it is recommended that procedures be put in place to ensure exclusive protocols for the activity, training for the company’s own or contracted personnel, supervision of the work, permits and safety measures and the adoption of the minimum requirements within eleven meters from where the activity is being carried out (orderliness, ventilation, fire extinguishers and guards).
It is vital to check the tank’s water level, the position of the valves and automatic pumps, the correct ambient conditions, the absence of humidity and temperature above 4°C (39°F), that there are no warning signals, no leaks and correct pump-motor alignment, among other things. As always, it is important to analyze the area, ensuring that the elements involved in extinguishing a fire cannot become waterlogged in the event of torrential rainfall.
Lorao drew attention to the importance of prior documentation, a planned review program, verifying compliance with national and international standards, issuing reports (detailed and recorded) and recommendations and implementing improvements.
He also stressed the importance of checking the condition of fire pumps, checking the pump curve to ensure the correct functioning of the water supply system.
Change management and security systems
It is important to control change through guarantees, depending on whether it involves a simple replacement, or whether it is a temporary, permanent or emergency change, which involves applying the corresponding management procedure(s). Industries such as oil & gas, chemicals and petrochemicals are more critical, he says, but “this is essential” for all activities.
The expert analyzed a specific case in which this was not properly applied at a detergent alkylates plant in the US, involving a change in chemical catalyst, sludge clogging, a poorly designed solution that resulted in additional hazards, a shift change and poor communication.
In the recommendations chapter, he referred to change identification, risk analysis, change authorization and implementation and review before, during and after operation. Successfully implementing all of this depends, in his opinion, on levers such as process ownership, document management, a multidisciplinary team and the creation of a scorecard with indicators.
She highlighted the importance of the decommissioning procedure, which concerns the first cases and, above all, the adoption of alternative safety measures to prevent a small fire or outbreak from leading to a major fire or catastrophe where these are not in place.
As for her recommendation when it comes to the decommissioning of fire protection equipment, she provided a permit protocol and pointed out that this must be commensurate with the type of systems involved and the equipment impacted, and also with the length of the downtime, the creation of action plans for any plant or machinery left without protection, preventive and additional measures in place, as well as allocating responsibilities for procedures, and communication.