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Safety in Work and Asset Management- Part I

Safety is an important aspect of Work and Asset Management (WAM) process. The Safety standards form an important evaluation criterion for Work and adherence to the safety norms are scrutinized thoroughly. For industries like Oil & Gas, Nuclear, Aerospace, Energy and Utilities etc. dealing with high risk Assets, safety is a critical factor and a mandate to follow. So if we already have such a high standard and even a higher scrutiny, why do we keep hearing about safety related incidents? The reason here could be a missing link of control, accountability and information exchange between the Safety and WAM function. Now why do we say that? Here's why..

Traditional work management measured work through the gauges of ROI, asset criticality etc., once found feasible on these measures, the work were authorized and all set to be executed. The safety function typically operated in silos and performed the blessing act by providing the necessary clearances strictly going by the defined procedures. The work is dynamic and the safety condition keeps changing, but who cares as long as the work goes on! This approach thus lacked the much required accountability and the capability to handle the dynamism of work management and is causing some fundamental issues we face today within Work and Asset Management process.

Safety concepts like Risk Assessments and Isolations & Controls forms strong premise to ensure a safe environment. Together they are combined in a package called Work Permit which acts as an authorization to work on assets and/ or locations that could pose serious hazards. When a work has a potential to cause serious impact to environment and health, it is necessary to formalize an agreed upon work procedures with all the stakeholders. This prevents instructions from being missed, forgotten or misinterpreted and work permit helps in accomplishing this. Through this blog, we would like to provide an overview on these important constituents of work permits which integrates Safety and Work and Asset management and strives to create a safer working atmosphere.

Let's consider an example of a work requiring safety and work management team to work in tandem and discuss on bringing in the coordination part in the important areas of safety. The operations teams at one of the thermal power generating unit were monitoring the turbine speed; this was part of their investigation process to find possible causes for reduction in the power generation. The team was suspecting a leakage on a recently refurbished pipe cross-section resulting in pressure drop of steam driving the turbine thereby causing a downward trend in speed. The issue had to be corrected soon. Any work in the high pressure turbine zone as per standards required safety clearances; it was therefore decided to loop in the safety experts to get their opinion on this. The idea was to get the required approvals and get the fix in place as soon as possible. The KPIs were at stake, and with the winter approaching, the operations were not doing great with their wattage numbers. In the Part II of this blog, through this example, we will discuss Risk Assessment and Isolation & Control process and touch upon the element of team work among the two critical units, the Safety and WAM


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