Shutdowns and turnarounds are a necessity for oil and gas refineries and petrochemical plants to conduct maintenance, repairs, refittings, and inspections—executing tasks that can’t take place on a regular basis when facilities are open for regular operations. Unplanned outages can be even more disruptive and costly. These projects have a significant impact on the operational budget of a refinery and require an increase in labor, third parties to be on-site, and lost revenue from the cessation of production. During these short-term projects, things need to move fast. But safety can’t be sacrificed. It needs to be a top priority and is a critical success measure.

Safety risks associated with shutdowns and turnarounds include:

Almost 50% of work-related accidents in plants occur during plant maintenance outages

TA Cook and Solomon Associates 2019

Equipping each worker on-site with a gas detector is vital. Toxic and combustible gases exist, and areas of oxygen deprivation can occur more frequently. Another typical hazard is slips, trips, and falls—OSHA cites this as the most frequent cause of accidents in the workplace. That risk increases during short-term oil and gas projects where workers are moving fast with tight time pressure. Deploying a versatile connected safety solution keeps everyone involved with the process safe and ensures that normal operations can resume as soon as possible.

There are four important things to consider when looking at the safety of your next shutdown or turnaround – simplicity, flexibility, budget, and future improvements.

1. Accessibility and Simplicity

During a turnaround, on-site worker numbers can swell to increases of hundreds or even thousands of workers. This typically includes external skilled tradespeople brought in for specific tasks – and everyone’s safety needs to be assured. Toxic gases, combustibles, and changing oxygen levels are significant hazards, so for this reason workers need to be protected with gas detection devices. However, since these projects typically only last from two to eight weeks, purchasing equipment isn’t always economically sound. Renting gas detectors and area monitors from OBW can be a preferable option for a couple of reasons:

2. Projects change. Timelines change. Safety doesn’t!

If there’s one predictable thing about shutdowns and turnarounds, it’s that they’re unpredictable. Flexible rental options, such as daily, weekly, or monthly terms, mean you can expand or contract your gas detection inventory as the needs of the project change. And with Blackline’s rental program specifically, you have the option to cancel a rental without penalty, so you aren’t handcuffed by rigid contracts.

3. Save Lives and Costs at the Same Time

One of the biggest factors when evaluating a shutdown or turnaround’s success is completing the project on time. With rented connected gas detectors, real-time data for all workers is at an operation manager’s fingertips. This gives the ability to see daily trends, such as areas with gas exposures indicating the need for additional repairs or maintenance. Getting in front of hazards before they become incidents that throw a wrench into the turnarounds schedule can help keep a project on track. Another significant factor in the cost of these projects is lost or forgotten devices. By renting connected gas monitors, you’ll always have full visibility into the location of each device, whether it’s during the project or after it’s completed when short-term workers can forget to return them.

4. Learn Today for a More Productive Tomorrow

An owner or operator’s minimal expectation from a turnaround is to have the facility returned to its original operating capacity. But these projects can also be an opportunity to identify to upgrade and improve systems and procedures.

Streamlining operations is crucial. Beyond the safety functionality of gas detectors, accessing the data from rented connected devices and analyzing their usage can have a significant impact on the efficiency of the next scheduled turnaround. With so many workers onsite, simple changes like relocating break areas or tool sheds can shave travel time for each worker every day, increasing their time on tools and in turn, shortening the overall timeline for the project. Even renting connected devices for a single job to do this type of evaluation and then implementing those productivity improvements can save hundreds of thousands of dollars for future projects.

More than half of all turnarounds experience significant delays.

TA Cook and Solomon Associates 2019

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