OSHA replaces the ChemNEP inspection protocol

Since 2011, Ammonia Refrigeration facilities with 10,000lbs. or more of Anhydrous Ammonia have been subject to ChemNEP inspections under CPL 03-00-14. OSHA has replaced this program with a new program that makes some changes:

  • Merges the Petroleum and Chemical NEPs into a single Program1
  • Targets EPA Risk Management Program level 1 & 2 as well as Program 3
  • Requires “State Plan” adoption

The details of the new program are posted in the new CPL 03-00-021 which is available on the OSHA website or, if you use our templates, in the References section of the Google Drive shared folders. Here are some highlights of the new inspection program:

  • Ammonia Refrigeration (as the sole HHC) is a “Category 1” facility which is supposed to represent 25% of all PSM inspections.
  • If you have an additional covered chemical such as chlorine, the facility may also fall under “Category 4” which is supposed to represent 40% of all PSM inspections.
  • Directs OSHA CSHOs to access the facility’s EPA RMP database information before the inspection.
  • Inspection must include the host employer AND the contract employer
  • Inspection should review ALL OSHA inspection history and abatement verification – must review last six years worth.
  • Inspections will request documents are provided:

Documents Requested Prior to Identifying the Selected Unit(s):

* OSHA 300 logs for the previous three years for the employer and the process-related contractors.

* All contract employee injury and illness logs as required by 1910.119(h)(2)(vi).

* A list of all PSM-covered process/units in the complex.

* A list of all units and the maximum intended inventories of all chemicals (in pounds) in each of the listed units.
* A summary description of the facility’s PSM program.

* Unit process flow diagrams.

* Process narrative descriptions.

* Host employer’s program for evaluating contract employer’s safety information.

* Host employer’s program/safe work practices for controlling the entrance/exit/work of contractors and their workers in covered process areas.

* Emergency Action Plan; and Emergency Response Plan if the facility is also required to comply with 29 CFR 1910.120(q).

* Host employer’s program for periodically evaluating contractor performance.

Documents Requested After the Selected Units are Identified:

* Piping and instrumentation diagrams (P&IDs) including legends.

* Unit electrical classification documents.

* Descriptions of safety systems (e.g., interlocks, detection or suppression systems).

* Design codes and standards employed for process and equipment in the Selected Unit(s).

* A list of all workers (i.e., hourly and supervisory) presently involved in operating the Selected Units(s), including names, job titles, work shifts, start date in the unit, and the name of the person(s) to whom they report (their supervisor).

* The initial process hazard analysis (PHA) and the most recent update/redo or revalidationfor the Selected Unit (s); this includes PHA reports, PHA worksheets, actions to address findings and recommendations promptly, written schedules for actions to be completed, and documentation of findings and recommendations.

* Safe upper and lower operating limits for the Selected Unit(s).

* A list by title and unit of each PSM incident report; all PSM incident reports for the Selected Unit.

* Contract employer’s safety information and programs (this will be requested from the host employer after it is determined which contractor(s) will be inspected).

* Contractor employer’s documentation of contract workers’ training, including the means used to verify employees’ understanding of the training (this will be requested from the respective contractor employer(s) after it is determined which contractor(s) will be inspected).

* Other documents as specified in the Dynamic Lists.

  • During the walk-around, the CHSO is to observe potential hazards including, but not limited to, pipe work at risk of impact, corroded or leaking equipment, unit or control room siting and trailer location, relief devices and vents that discharge to atmosphere, and ongoing construction and maintenance activities; and solicit input from workers / worker representatives / contract employees.
  • Inspections are focused on Dynamic List questions just like the ChemNEP. Failure to correctly address the questions from the list may broaden the inspection to areas outside the questions. When CSHOs expand the inspection beyond the Dynamic List, they can pull questions from:

* Prior ChemNEP Dynamic List questions
* Old Petroleum NEP (CPL 03-00-010) questions
* CPL 2-2.45 PQV (CPL 2-2.45a) questions
* CCPS Guidelines for Hazard Evaluation Procedures, 3rd Edition

Note that this guidance specifically includes the CCPS book “Guidelines for Hazard Evaluation Procedures, 3rd Edition” which focuses on PHAs. We have long counseled using the CCPS guidance to better understand what a successful PSM program looks like from both a design perspective as well as an implementation one.

Coupled with the EPA’s announcement that they have begun implementing their enforcement initiative, there has never been a better time to consider a thorough 3rd party Compliance Audit.

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Trump Regulatory Freeze likely to delay EPA RMP Updates

According to a memo from Reince Priebus ( Regulatory Freeze Memo 012017 ) the EPA RMP updates are likely to be delayed:

With respect to regulations that have been published in the OFR but have not taken effect, as permitted by applicable law, temporarily postpone their effective date for 60 days from the date of this memorandum, subject to the exceptions described in paragraph 1, for the purpose of reviewing questions of fact, law, and policy they raise. Where appropriate and as permitted by applicable law, you should consider proposing for notice and comment a rule to delay the effective date for regulations beyond that 60-day period. In cases where the effective date has been delayed in order to review questions of fact, law, or policy, you should consider potentially proposing further notice-and-comment rulemaking. Following the delay in effective date: (a) for those regulations that raise no substantial questions of law or policy, no further action needs to be taken; and (b) for those regulations that raise substantial questions of law or policy, agencies should notify the OMB Director and take further appropriate action in consultation with the OMB Director.

As these regulations likely fall into category “b” above, we’ll have to see what “further appropriate action” consists of in the weeks and months ahead.

**012617 Update – EPA posted a memo on delayed implementation.

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2017 SOP Template Updates

The SOP reference element guideline and RESOP/ROSOP reference  templates have been updated for 2017. The changes are basically broken into two groups: Continuous Improvement and IIAR 7.

Continuous Improvement: As always, there are a lot of little change suggestions that have been built up over time that were expressed in different templates in slightly different ways. Here are some of the change highlights in this section:

  • Section breaks are all now 3pt and merged into a single cell.
  • Stray CG Times font text changed to the default Book Antiqua that is used everywhere else.
  • All RESOPs (and Appropriate ROSOPs) follow this section order:
    1. Normal Startup
    2. Monitor Normal Operations
    3. Emergency Operations
    4. Emergency Shutdown
    5. Manual Shutdown and Isolation
    6. Maintenance Procedure(s) such as Oil Draining and schedules MI tasks.
  • Startup steps were re-organized and harmonized between equipment types.
  • HOA/LOTO steps made more explicit and consistent.
  • Emergency Shutdown section easier to follow and harmonized between equipment types.
  • Added text referencing the Incident Investigation element in the Emergency Shutdown section.
  • Shutdown section now starts with an option to just STOP the unit using the control computer/panel and then provides steps to Isolate and pump it down.
  • Harmonized Operating Limits, Consequences of Deviation and Steps Required to Correct or Avoid Deviation between equipment types. These sections were also harmonized with consistent BOLDing of the relevant variable between the sections as appropriate.

IIAR 7: I have long bypassed IIAR 7 “Developing Operating Procedures for Closed-Circuit Ammonia Mechanical Refrigerating Systems,” preferring to use the CCPS “Guidelines for Writing Effective Operating and Maintenance Procedures.” While my reference templates still use the CCPS as their basis, I felt it necessary to perform a Gap-Analysis between the templates I’ve been using (and continuously improving) for over a decade and the requirements in IIAR 7-2013. This is especially important because the International Machine Code (IMC) has been updated to point to IIAR 2-2014 (Safe Design of Closed-Circuit Ammonia Refrigeration Systems) which references IIAR 7-2013. While I am still not calling IIAR7 RAGAGEP in my PSM programs, I wanted to ensure that the PSM program SOP(s) were compliant with it. While there were no significant changes necessary to make the templates more compliant with IIAR 7, some changes were necessary. Here’s what changes were required for IIAR 7 compliance:

  • Explicit reference to control alarms during Start-up
  • Updated checks during Normal Operations to ensure coverage of all the items listed in IIAR 7
  • Include Supervisory Notification during Shutdowns

For those of you who use these reference templates, they are available in the Google Share in a directory called “IIAR 7 Mods.” After a few months of trials and minor revisions, these templates will replace the existing templates in the main directory. The old templates will be rendered obsolete and moved to the 0bsolete directory.

If you have existing SOPs using the 2016 (or earlier) versions of the template, you will want to compare the new templates with your existing implementation. Please note: These new templates will be the basis for ALL future template modifications / updates.

Below is a list of ALL the changes made to the SOP template section.

  • SOP Guidelines
    • Modified Implementation Policy: Operating Phases: Temporary Operation to include an explanation that a Temporary Operation SOP would require an MOC which would involve supervisory oversight due to the requirements of IIAR 7 6.2.3.1(a), 6.3.3.1(a), 6.5.3.1(a), 6.6.3.1(a), 6.7.3.1(a) & 6.8.3.1(a).
  • Compressor RESOP Template
    • Re-ordered startup steps to optimize efficiency
    • Added explicit reference to control alarms during Start-up due to the requirements of IIAR 7 6.2.1.1(g)
    • Modified Monitor Normal Operations sections to include explicit checks for all appropriate items in section of IIAR 7 6.2.2.1
    • Optimized HOA / LOTO call-out Made more explicit LOTO call-outs in the Manual Shutdown section.
    • Optimized lead-in language to Manual Shutdown section and closure of Emergency Shutdown section to include Supervisory notification required under of IIAR 7 6.2.4 & 6.2.5.1. Manual Shutdown now starts with an option to just STOP the unit and then offers steps to pump it down.
    • Optimized Emergency Shutdown section to make it easier to follow. Added an explicit requirement to notify supervisory personnel so they can evaluate the need for an Incident Investigation.
    • Updated the Safety & Health section to use more of the IIAR example wording.
    • Updated Emergency Operations & Equipment Information section to standardize use of capitalization and bold text.
  • Condenser RESOP Template
    • Re-ordered startup steps to optimize efficiency
    • Added explicit reference to control alarms during Start-up due to the requirements of IIAR 7 6.3.1.1(g)
    • Modified Monitor Normal Operations sections to include explicit checks for all appropriate items in section of IIAR 7 6.3.2.1
    • Optimized HOA / LOTO call-out Made more explicit LOTO call-outs in the Manual Shutdown section.
    • Optimized lead-in language to Manual Shutdown section and closure of Emergency Shutdown section to include Supervisory notification required under of IIAR 7 6.3.4 & 6.3.5.1. Manual Shutdown now starts with an option to just STOP the unit and then offers steps to pump it down.
    • Optimized Emergency Shutdown section to make it easier to follow. Added an explicit requirement to notify supervisory personnel so they can evaluate the need for an Incident Investigation.
    • Updated the Safety & Health section to use more of the IIAR example wording.
    • Updated Emergency Operations & Equipment Information section to standardize use of capitalization and bold text.
  • Air Unit RESOP Template
    • Re-ordered startup steps to optimize efficiency
    • Added explicit reference to control alarms during Start-up due to the requirements of IIAR 7 6.4.1.1(g)
    • Modified Monitor Normal Operations sections to include explicit checks for all appropriate items in section of IIAR 7 6.4.2.1
    • Optimized HOA / LOTO call-out Made more explicit LOTO call-outs in the Manual Shutdown section.
    • Optimized lead-in language to Manual Shutdown section and closure of Emergency Shutdown section to include Supervisory notification required under of IIAR 7 6.4.4 & 6.4.5.1. Manual Shutdown now starts with an option to just STOP the unit and then offers steps to pump it down.
    • Optimized Emergency Shutdown section to make it easier to follow. Added an explicit requirement to notify supervisory personnel so they can evaluate the need for an Incident Investigation.
    • Updated the Safety & Health section to use more of the IIAR example wording.
    • Updated Emergency Operations & Equipment Information section to standardize use of capitalization and bold text.
  • Vessel RESOP Template
    • Re-ordered startup steps to optimize efficiency
    • Added explicit reference to control alarms during Start-up due to the requirements of IIAR 7 6.5.1.1(g)
    • Modified Monitor Normal Operations sections to include explicit checks for all appropriate items in section of IIAR 7 6.5.2.1
    • Optimized HOA / LOTO call-out Made more explicit LOTO call-outs in the Manual Shutdown section.
    • Optimized lead-in language to Manual Shutdown section and closure of Emergency Shutdown section to include Supervisory notification required under of IIAR 7 6.5.4 & 6.5.5.1. Manual Shutdown now starts with an option to just STOP the unit and then offers steps to pump it down.
    • Optimized Emergency Shutdown section to make it easier to follow. Added an explicit requirement to notify supervisory personnel so they can evaluate the need for an Incident Investigation.
    • Updated the Safety & Health section to use more of the IIAR example wording.
    • Updated Emergency Operations & Equipment Information section to standardize use of capitalization and bold text.
  • Recirculating Vessel RESOP Template
    • Re-ordered startup steps to optimize efficiency
    • Added explicit reference to control alarms during Start-up due to the requirements of IIAR 7 6.5.1.1(g)
    • Modified Monitor Normal Operations sections to include explicit checks for all appropriate items in section of IIAR 7 6.5.2.1
    • Optimized HOA / LOTO call-out Made more explicit LOTO call-outs in the Manual Shutdown section.
    • Optimized lead-in language to Manual Shutdown section and closure of Emergency Shutdown section to include Supervisory notification required under of IIAR 7 6.5.4 & 6.5.5.1. Manual Shutdown now starts with an option to just STOP the unit and then offers steps to pump it down.
    • Optimized Emergency Shutdown section to make it easier to follow. Added an explicit requirement to notify supervisory personnel so they can evaluate the need for an Incident Investigation.
    • Updated the Safety & Health section to use more of the IIAR example wording.
    • Updated Emergency Operations & Equipment Information section to standardize use of capitalization and bold text.
    • Added reminder about documenting oil drained during the oil draining procedural section.
  • Heat Exchanger RESOP Template
    • Re-ordered startup steps to optimize efficiency
    • Added explicit reference to control alarms during Start-up due to the requirements of IIAR 7 6.4.1.1(g)
    • Modified Monitor Normal Operations sections to include explicit checks for all appropriate items in section of IIAR 7 6.4.2.1
    • Optimized HOA / LOTO call-out Made more explicit LOTO call-outs in the Manual Shutdown section.
    • Optimized lead-in language to Manual Shutdown section and closure of Emergency Shutdown section to include Supervisory notification required under of IIAR 7 6.4.4 & 6.4.5.1. Manual Shutdown now starts with an option to just STOP the unit and then offers steps to pump it down.
    • Optimized Emergency Shutdown section to make it easier to follow. Added an explicit requirement to notify supervisory personnel so they can evaluate the need for an Incident Investigation.
    • Updated the Safety & Health section to use more of the IIAR example wording.
    • Updated Emergency Operations & Equipment Information section to standardize use of capitalization and bold text.
  • Autopurger RESOP Template(s)
    • Re-ordered startup steps to optimize efficiency
    • Added explicit reference to control alarms during Start-up due to the requirements of IIAR 7 6.4.1.1(g)
    • Modified Monitor Normal Operations sections to include explicit checks for all appropriate items in section of IIAR 7 6.4.2.1
    • Optimized HOA / LOTO call-out Made more explicit LOTO call-outs in the Manual Shutdown section.
    • Optimized lead-in language to Manual Shutdown section and closure of Emergency Shutdown section to include Supervisory notification required under of IIAR 7 6.4.4 & 6.4.5.1. Manual Shutdown now starts with an option to just STOP the unit and then offers steps to pump it down.
    • Optimized Emergency Shutdown section to make it easier to follow. Added an explicit requirement to notify supervisory personnel so they can evaluate the need for an Incident Investigation.
    • Updated the Safety & Health section to use more of the IIAR example wording.
    • Updated Emergency Operations & Equipment Information section to standardize use of capitalization and bold text.
  • Overall System Operation ROSOP 101 Template
    • Updated the Safety & Health section to use more of the IIAR example wording.
  • NH3Vent ROSOP Template
    • Updated the Safety & Health section to use more of the IIAR example wording.
    • Updated Emergency Operations & Equipment Information section to standardize use of capitalization and bold text. A nearly complete rewrite of the section as well.
  • Car-Seal ROSOP Template
    • Updated the Safety & Health section to use more of the IIAR example wording.
  • Line Opening (LEO) ROSOP Template
    • Updated the Safety & Health section to use more of the IIAR example wording.
    • Removed – Non-Permit version of the ROSOP. Still available in 0bsolete archive.
  • Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) ROSOP Template
    • Updated the Safety & Health section to use more of the IIAR example wording.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) ROSOP Template
    • Updated the Safety & Health section to use more of the IIAR example wording.
  • Quality Assurance (QA) ROSOP Template
    • Updated the Safety & Health section to use more of the IIAR example wording.

Yes, there are a LOT of changes! If you want any assistance or clarification on any of these changes, feel free to contact me.

 

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Merry Christmas from the EPA!

Yesterday the EPA released their long-awaited changes to the RMP rule which will take effect in roughly 60 days. (Don’t worry too much – the earliest actual compliance date for the new requirements is an additional year away and many of them are four years away.)

While the rule isn’t *official* until it’s published in the Federal Register, they have provided the prepublication version with commentary on their website. The document itself is 372 pages long which is impressive considering the original rule is 17 pages.

Go over to RCE Chill and read the full post for more info including a 55 page summary that lists:

  • What the new text says.
  • What the new text means.
  • What you must do (and when you must do it!) to become compliant.

UPDATE: Updated links to Federal Register posting of the rule.

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Pencil-Whipping can Kill

What is it? Pencil-whipping is when you complete a form, record, or document without having performed the implied work or without supporting data or evidence.

Here are some common examples in NH3 refrigeration:

  • Completing “word orders” without conducting the work
  • “Signing off” on SOP reviews or PHA revalidations without actually reviewing or revalidating the documents.
  • Certifying training – or signing training attendance forms – without the training actually occurring.

Why take it seriously? There are several reasons, but here are some obvious ones:

  • You can be prosecuted for false statements resulting in fines and/or jail time.
  • There is significant legal liability if the action leads to an incident.
  • You can be fired for false statements
  • There can be significant safety repercussions to documenting work that wasn’t done.

I want to briefly focus on the last one – what can happen when you document that work was done when it actually wasn’t. If you are being assigned a task, we have to assume that the performance of that task is important to the system as a whole.

Imagine your job was to inspect some equipment that was prone to long-term wear – equipment that was relied upon for normal function. Now imagine that you didn’t conduct those inspections leading the users of that equipment to believe it was in proper working order. They are relying for their safety on YOUR lie!

Here’s what that can lead to:

capture1And here’s what can happen when people investigate the incident:

Thursday morning, the General Manager and CEO of the Board Safety Commission released a statement regarding the firings: “…I want the Board, our employees and our customers to know that this review revealed a disturbing level of indifference, lack of accountability, and flagrant misconduct in a portion of Metro’s track department which is completely intolerable. Further, it is reprehensible that any supervisor or mid-level manager would tolerate or encourage this behavior, or seek to retaliate against those who objected. It is also entirely unacceptable to me that any employee went along with this activity, rather than exercise a safety challenge, or any of the multiple avenues available to protect themselves, their coworkers, and the riding public.

Since the derailment occurred, we have either taken action or are in the process of taking disciplinary actions involving 28 individuals. This represents nearly half of the track inspection department and includes BOTH management and frontline track employees.

Six employees have been terminated, including 4 track inspectors and 2 supervisors

Six more track inspectors are pending termination or unpaid suspension; and 10 more are pending possible discipline pending the outcome of the administrative process

Another supervisor termination is underway; and two more supervisors are pending the outcome of the administrative process

One Superintendent was demoted to Supervisor

One Assistant General Superintendent was demoted to Superintendent

One assistant superintendent separated from Metro before the review concluded

In closing: Pencil-Whipping is immoral, illegal and just plain wrong. Don’t do it.

capture2

p.s. If you want to see how some instances of pencil-whipping are caused by overload, check out this video from Seth Wehner.

Posted in Compliance, Culture, General Information, Incidents, Inspections, Mechanical Integrity, Operator Training, System Optimization | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Militarized Incompetence or Unintentional Sabotage

 oss1

In 1944, near the end of WW2, the Office of Strategic Services (the forerunner to the CIA) released a field guide called the “Simple Sabotage Field Manual.” The purpose of the suggestions in the manual was “to present suggestions for inciting and executing (sabotage)” for the citizen saboteur to “undermine organizations from within.”

I’d like to focus on three suggestions provided in the manual that I’ve routinely seen implemented in facilities across the nation.

Think about that for a second – these are suggestions on how to undermine an organization from a SPY AGENCY that employees are implementing TODAY in facilities – often, without intent or an understanding of how their behaviors are affecting the organization.

#1 – Don’t train the new technician or Share Information

oss2In an era where employees no longer feel any real loyalty from their employer, it’s not surprising that this is a problem. After all, if you train the new technician, what’s to stop them from taking your job? Now, I could explain all the ways that a trained technician would help your process (and you) be safer and more effective, but I’m going to assume you’ve already heard this before and it wasn’t enough to convince you. Instead, I’m going to appeal to something else: If nobody else can do your job, then you cannot be promoted.

#2 – Find reasons to fail

oss3

In dozens of compliance audits around the country I’ve witnessed horrible housekeeping and/or a lack of basic maintenance. When questioned, the maintenance employees usually give some version of:

  • We’re short-staffed and they won’t approve more hours/employees
  • Various capital projects are still waiting approval
  • Scheduling contractors to address some other issue is proving difficult

Note that none of these things are really reasons why you can’t pick trash up off the machine room floor (or not place it there in the first place.) What they are is an attempt to redirect your attention somewhere else – specifically to someone else.

Look, I understand. I’ve worked inside large (and small) bureaucracies before and the frustration is real. It’s unfortunately very easy to let someone else’s failures demotivate you. Don’t let someone’s inability to do their job stop you from doing your job. You can take time to complain about everyone else’s failures as soon as you’ve made sure all your stuff is taken care of.

#3 – Sabotage Paperwork oss4

Anyone with a PSM/RM Program has seen this issue. Common examples include:

  • An MOC filled out with a “Technical Basis for Change” that sounds more like an explanation given to a two-year-old than an engineering rationale. “We moved the air unit.” Ok. Why did you move it? Where did you move it to? Where did you move it from? How do we know the new area is acceptable? Etc.
  • An incident investigation that makes you think the author was being charged by the letter. “Leak in Au1 coil. Fixed.” Where was the leak? What was the extent of the leak? What were the repercussions of the leak? What happened during the investigation of / response to the leak? How was it fixed and by whom? What lead to the leak? What are we doing to stop this from happening again? Etc.

If you view MOCs and Incident Investigations as “filling out the paperwork” rather than documenting your work, you’ll routinely get poor results.

These are just three examples of employee actions that are disturbingly similar to suggestions from a SPY AGENCY on how to intentionally undermine an organization. I’m not suggesting that your employees are undercover agents from your competitors, but if they are exhibiting these behaviors, and you aren’t addressing them, what is the practical difference between militarized incompetence  or unintentional sabotage to your organization?

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APR’s aren’t Magic

When I see people writing “Have a Full-Face APR (Air Purifying Respirator) nearby, within arm’s reach” in their Line/Equipment Opening (aka Line Break) procedures, my blood-pressure shoots through the roof. Yes, I know I am a rather excitable guy by nature, but there is a legitimate reason for my anger here. 

This incident narrative is why: 

It is believed the oil drain valve was initially clogged as the employee opened it a full three turns before any ammonia came out. When liquid exited the valve and struck the employee he fell face first on concrete in hallway.   “Convulsions” were observed by other employees and the operator was unable to self-rescue due to lung spasms. The other employees had no access to PPE and could not assist the victim. 

Would a Full-Face APR within “arm’s reach” have been useful to that employee AFTER he was struck in the face with liquid ammonia? 

NO. IT WOULD NOT.

With NO protection, that operator was essentially doomed the second the NH3 left the pipe and struck him.

PPE stands for Personal Protective Equipment, not Potentially Protective Equipment.

aprnotmagicPPE isn’t some sort of magic relic that provides protection while you are within a certain radius of its location. It works when – and ONLY when – you use it properly. This same foolish thinking that allows people to require APR’s “nearby” could be applied to seat-belts with about the same effectiveness: “Well, no he wasn’t wearing the seat-belt during the accident. Funny thing: the darned seat-belt was right there next to him and he still went out the window when the car hit the tree.”

Now, imagine instead that the operator in that incident narrative was wearing a Full-Face APR. While Full-Face APR’s aren’t designed for liquid exposure, would he have survived if he were wearing one? Almost certainly, YES. Certainly his odds would have improved astronomically. He may well have suffered severe burns, but it is very likely that the Full-Face APR would have afforded him enough protection so that he would have been able to evacuate himself from the area and seek a safety shower to minimize the damage to his skin.

Please, THINK about your policies and REQUIRE that Full-Face APR’s are worn during ALL Line & Equipment openings.

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We’re all in this together

vegas-skyline

It was great to meet so many friends and colleagues in Las Vegas last week for RETA’s annual conference. While all business is about personal relationships, most people recognize that the Ammonia Refrigeration industry is a uniquely tight-knit group. I’ve always been strong supporters of RETA because their focus is on the Refrigerating Engineers and Technicians – the actual ground troops that do the work!

The comradery of the process operators in our industry is second to none and it’s always good to get the opportunity to assemble in one place for a few days to discuss common issues. A common theme this year in our conversations was one that has been very prevalent for the last few years, but only seems to be getting worse: the operator shortage.

For nearly a decade now there just aren’t enough skilled operators to go around and that has only highlighted the need for quality training for the new people we’re drafting into the field. There have been third-party solutions for overall refrigeration training for years and these programs have value, but they must serve to augment quality in-house training, not replace it.

What a quality in-house training program looks like is a very complicated subject and one we may write about at some point, but what I’d like to talk about today is something related to that topic: the power imbalance between the new and the seasoned operator.

While driving to Arkansas for a client visit earlier this week I was listening to a book on tape: Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers: The Story of Success.” In a chapter on Airplane crashes he spoke of a very interesting statistic: The plain is more likely to crash when the Captain is flying than when the First Officer is flying. Isn’t that odd? Wouldn’t you expect the more seasoned, more experienced Captain to be safer than the comparatively less seasoned and experienced First Officer?

He also offered what many psychologists believe is the reason for this: The Captain is very likely to point out a mistake made by the First Officer because they are in an elevated position compared to them. It is much more difficult – psychologically speaking – for the junior officer to challenge the Captain! With so many experienced operators training new ones, couldn’t we also be affected by this sort of power imbalance?

So, here are a couple thoughts for those of you in the field to help us all avoid the problems caused by power imbalance:

If you are the more seasoned, experienced technician:

  • Are you making yourself approachable?
  • Are you actively soliciting input from your colleagues on your plan of action?
  • Are you rewarding questions about your plan of action or punishing them?
  • Are you considering questions about your plan as teaching moments rather than challenges to your “authority?”

If you are the less seasoned, experience technician:

  • Are you speaking up if you have concerns or questions about the plan of action?
  • Are you insisting that you are heard rather than just making sure you have said your piece?
  • Are you posing your concerns or questions as opportunities for your colleagues to train you?

It’s the last bullet of each of those that I want to focus on briefly. Whether you are the questioner or the person answering the question, you need to look at these moments of confusion as teaching moments. Saying “That’s stupid” or “I wouldn’t do it that way,” is perceived as a challenge and isn’t likely to get a constructive response. Saying “Help me understand why you are doing it this way,” “Is there a reason not to do it this other way,” or “Let me explain why I’m doing it this way” starts a dialogue between people that can bring you both together.

By asking yourself the above questions, the experienced technician will soon come to understand that “teaching” someone often helps them clarify their thoughts and makes them understand their own actions better. The inexperienced technician will find that training isn’t just something that happens in a classroom – their day is full of learning opportunities.

Remember, we’re all in this together.

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When does a Car-Seal program make sense for Industrial Ammonia Refrigeration systems?

First off: What is a Car-Seal program and what does it do? 

A Car-Seal program is designed, implemented and managed to ensure that safety-critical valves within the covered process are maintained in their safety-critical position / setting during normal system operation. If the position / setting of a safety-critical valve is to be changed, it provides a procedure that functions as an administrative control to make this change safely.

Car-Sealing a valve OPEN or CLOSED is used ONLY if opening or closing that valve during normal operation could result in a Severe Safety Incident. Car-Sealed valves are usually designated on the P&ID’s as Car-Sealed OPEN (CSO) and Car-Sealed CLOSED (CSC), and are physically identified as Car-Sealed in its designated position / setting.

In order to more readily identify the location of the intended Car-Seals in the field, as well as the NORMALLY SAFE valve position / setting, the tags will be secured to the valve using COLOR CODED PLASTIC TIE STRAPS.

carseal

To put it bluntly: Car-Seals are placed on valves where REALLY bad things can happen if you move them from their normal (Safety Critical) position without taking precautions!

Where are they used in Industrial Ammonia Refrigeration Systems? 

You should already have at least two Administrative Controls (safeguards) meant to minimize the hazard of opening and closing the wrong valves: Written SOPs and Trained Operators. The Car-Seal program is meant to add a third layer of protection on top of those two when changing the position of the valve could reasonably result in a Severe Safety Incident.

Severe Safety Incidentshall mean any incident which could result in any one or more of the following results:

  • An OSHA Recordable accident, fatality, one or more employees/contractors hospitalized
  • Any fire requiring the use of more than one (1) portable extinguisher or one wheeled unit to completely extinguish
  • Any environmental incident involving a regulated material which violates any of our permits or requires disposal of a hazardous waste
  • Any incident which activates or disables a pressure safety device.
  • Any event which had the clear potential for sudden loss of human life, either within the plant or beyond the fence line, which would result directly from a chemical release, fire or other safety-related incident
  • Any event which required an offsite notification of any type agency (fire, LEPC, EPA, OSHA, County Officials, City Officials)
  • Any event in which the site alarm system activates or is disabled (excluding false alarms and tests)

While the decision as to which situations could reasonably result in a Severe Safety Incident are best left to the PHA team, the following are common situations where they have been used:

  • On the CD Isolation Valve of a Condenser Coil
  • On the Inlet or Outlet Isolation Valve of a Thermosyphon Heat Exchanger
  • On any liquid cooling Heat Exchanger without a relief device*
  • Where a shutoff valve is placed before or after a relief device*
  • At Isolation Valves for dead-end or Future Expansion legs.

* A relief device in this case means a device to relieve excess pressure. While relief valves are common solutions, other examples include checkvalves, pressure-relieving regulators, EPCS solenoids, etc.

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DHS CFATS Top-Screen Update

It looks like the DHS has finally got around to updating their Top-Screen program. Below is the email from them:

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Subject: Enhanced CFATS Risk-Assessment Methodology and Upcoming Requirement to Submit CFATS Top-Screen
From: “cfatsupdate” <cfatsupdate@hq.dhs.gov>
Date: Tue, August 30, 2016

You are receiving this email because you are listed as an Authorizer or Submitter for a facility that has previously submitted a Top-Screen under the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Program.

For the past 9 years, the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program has provided a regulatory framework through which America’s highest-risk chemical facilities have worked together with the Department of Homeland Security as they have put into place security measures designed to harden their facilities and chemical holdings against terrorist attack and exploitation. The CFATS risk-assessment methodology has been a foundational element of this effort. More than 30,000 facilities such as yours-which have held threshold quantities/concentrations of CFATS Chemicals of Interest-have met their obligation to submit a Top-Screen, kicking off the risk-assessment process. Although your facility may have previously been determined not to be “high-risk,” and, therefore, may not have been required to develop a Site Security Plan addressing the CFATS risk-based performance standards, it is important that our chemical security community continue to work together to ensure that we are assessing risk as accurately as possible–with a full focus on current information related to terrorist threat, potential vulnerabilities, and the potential consequences of a terrorist attack. With this in mind, and in partnership with industry stakeholders and experts from other government agencies and academia, we at DHS have been working hard to update and enhance the CFATS risk-assessment methodology.

In the coming months, we will be reaching out directly to your facility and other facilities believed to maintain threshold quantities of CFATS Chemicals of Interest, asking that you again comply with CFATS by submitting a new Top-Screen. I’m pleased to report that, along with the enhanced risk-assessment methodology, we have built a new online tool for submission of Top-Screens. This “Chemical Security Assessment Tool 2.0” (or “CSAT 2.0”) will provide a significantly more streamlined and user-friendly experience for facilities.

If you’d like to learn more about CFATS, please visit https://www.dhs.gov/critical-infrastructure-chemical-security.

What does this mean for me and my facility?
On July 20, 2016, DHS suspended the requirement for the submission of Top-Screens and Security Vulnerability Assessments (SVA) in preparation for the rollout of CSAT 2.0 and to prevent duplicate submissions.

After the transition to CSAT 2.0 and the improved risk tiering methodology in October 2016, the Department will begin to individually notify chemical facilities of interest (to include facilities previously determined not to be high-risk) to resubmit a Top-Screen using the revised CSAT Top-Screen application. We will send a specific written notification to these facilities. These letters will be issued through CSAT 2.0 to each facility’s designated CFATS Authorizer and Submitter in a phased manner over the course of several months.

What will CSAT 2.0 do and when will this happen?
CSAT 2.0 will collect the data necessary to process facilities through the improved risk tiering methodology and improve the integration between the CSAT SVA and Site Security Plan (SSP) surveys. These changes will streamline the compliance process and significantly reduce the administrative burden associated with completing these surveys. CSAT 2.0 will include a revised CSAT portal user interface and the streamlined Top-Screen, SVA, and SSP surveys.

Next steps:

* The Department will replace the current CSAT surveys with the revised surveys this fall.

* On October 1, 2016, DHS will reinstate the Top-Screen and SVA submission requirements.

* We will individually notify facilities in a phased manner to resubmit their Top-Screens using the new tool.

How should I prepare?
Be sure you are able to log into your CSAT account and ensure the most up-to-date contact information is available for the submitter and authorizer. Log in to https://csat.dhs.gov/industry and select the “Update My Information” link to confirm that all information is correct and up-to-date. If you are unable to access your account, please contact the CFATS Help Desk, (866) 323-2957.

Training on CSAT 2.0

* REGISTER NOW! The Department will be hosting several webinars and presentations at several cities around the country to demonstrate the streamlined tool! The first of these sessions will be a two-part webinar held the first week of September:

CFATS Quarterly

* The Department has made significant progress on implementing the program since 2007, to include implementing the Personnel Surety Program. To learn more on current CFATS programmatic activities, view the attached latest CFATS Quarterly, a short newsletter we send regularly to our CFATS-regulated facilities (linked here: 2016-08 ISCD Quarterly Message_508 (crunched))

Additional Resources

* Contact the CFATS Help Desk, (866) 323-2957, a CFATS Compliance Case Manager, or your local Chemical Security Inspector with any questions by emailing CFATS@hq.dhs.gov<mailto:CFATS@hq.dhs.gov>.

* Visit the DHS website at www.dhs.gov/cfats-tiering-methodology or read the implementation notice published in the Federal Register for more information.
The Department is committed to sharing information, answering questions, and providing assistance to facilities. Please feel free to reach out to us regarding your questions by emailing CFATS@hq.dhs.gov

Thank you for your continuing commitment to fostering the security of America’s chemical infrastructure!

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