Safety in Work and Asset Management- Part II
The Risk AssessmentFor the safety department, the prime responsibility is to ensure an environment which is safe for both the personnel working in the work site as well as the other impacted stakeholders. They get started with the risk assessment to identify hazard associated with the work in the turbine. Few things to consider here: how safe is it to perform repairs in the premise with the existing heat and high pressure zone hazard? or to continue without?; Any history of failure and knowledge of associated damages?; Any financial repercussions of shutdown followed by a cold start etc. etc.
Risk Assessment Matrix
The Risk Assessment starts with the identification of the work associated hazards. Initial Risk Factor is defined for each hazard with the help of Risk Assessment Matrix. This is followed by mapping the consequences with the probability of hazard occurrence. After the risk assessment relevant controls in the form of precautionary measures are applied to the Hazard. Residual Risk Assessment, which measure the inevitable risks post control measures is also performed. Though a risk assessment is predominantly a Safety function, it cannot and should not operate in isolation. For the matrix above, while the safety team is the one to determine the impact of risks suggest possible measure to avert any dangers, the likelihood of the Asset failure and behavior under particular conditions can be best predicted by work management team. They know the pulse of Asset they manage. Again, if work management department were to be all by themselves then such Risk assessment would be biased with an overly Asset focus, ignoring external implications such as threat to environment etc.it is therefore very essential that they work as one unit, perform mutual tradeoffs where applicable and definitely, not at the cost of safety!
Isolation and ControlSteam leakage! Now what comes to your mind, escaping white fumes maybe? Superheated steam is invisible to human eye and with temperature ranging more than 500oC, an accidental exposure for even few seconds can lead to serious consequences. Isolation is a technique used to cordon off such safety critical items from the work to ensure an environment conducive for work. Isolations consist of both hard and soft Isolations. The soft isolations are called Tag-out procedures which in this example would be a "do not cross tape"; works really well for the obedient one's but for the curious folks, there is a need for hard Isolation, also known as Lockout. This essentially means a complete physical locking out of the work area. Isolations are required to bring asset/location in a safe mode to start work on it. Once the asset/location is isolated, the required work can be executed on it. Once the work is executed, reverse isolation steps are carried out to bring the asset/location back to operating state. With the dynamism involved in the work, the Isolation process associated with an Assets and Locations changes, it is therefore essential to continuously evaluate the work progress and put in place a modified Isolation to parallel such developments. In our case, let's say that the inlet of the pipe section was locked out for inspection, but as no problems were identified, the team moved on with subsequent inspection step; which could have required additional Isolations. So should the work management team just be allowed to proceed as normally practiced in a traditional Work Management system? Remember, the clearances for the work were already provided so no one holds the Work Management team accountable if something goes wrong! Here comes the importance of a dynamic safety plan which quickly modifies itself, sets a new set of control through a revised risk assessment and modified Isolations, requiring one to get new set of approvals. This essentially operates through a shift in ownership back to safety unit followed by set of evaluation and clearances. This adds to the dynamism in work and requires tighter control in terms of both Safety and Work Management working closely.
The work management complimented with strong safety fundamentals is imperative for a systematic evaluation of various risks associated with a Work. Safety is an important point of consideration prior to execution of any tasks and needs to be imbibed within the work management culture. It makes allowance for risk elimination/mitigation thereby making the work place safer. Implementation of a safe Work and Asset Management system can only be successful if all the stakeholders understand the importance and commit to their respective responsibilities. The golden rule of safety "No work is so urgent to be executed if not safe" holds good under any circumstances. Here's wishing you all a happy and safe Work and Asset management!