Reducing Process Safety Incidents in Your Power Plant: What Your Mobile Field Workers Need

August 16, 2018

Industrial Mobile workers encounter potentially dangerous situations out in the field everyday. Whether it’s by operating hazardous rotating machinery or handling corrosive chemicals, process safety incidents can happen anywhere and at anytime. 

This is why you need a detailed safety strategy to support your mobile field workers at all times. However, training your power plant’s mobile workforce on the best safety protocols can be a challenge for even the most seasoned Plant Operations Managers. With so many safety factors to consider at a power plant, it can be tough to know where to start.

 The following three steps can help foster a culture of safety at your power plant and significantly reduce the number of process safety incidents.

The Three Things Your Mobile Field Workers Need from You 

What your mobile field workers need most from their Plant Operations Managers is effective, confident leadership and a clear set of safety guidelines.

One study published in the Journal of Safety Research found that companies with organized, clear safety protocols experienced a dramatic decrease in worker injury rates. In other words, when Managers held safety-related interactions with their employees and trained them on the latest safety protocols, they immediately reduced process safety incidents.

To get the same results at your power plant, here are three steps that you can take right now to support all of your mobile field workers’ needs:

  1. Maintain your plant’s assets to prevent machinery-related incidents
  2. Train your Operators on the latest safety protocols
  3. Keep detailed trend logs that help you identify safety weaknesses 

Step 1: Track the Health of Your Assets to Prevent Process Safety Incidents

The integrity of your machinery has a major impact on process safety incidents at your power plant. For example, during the Texas City Refinery explosion in 2005, a number of technical and operational problems at the refinery resulted in multiple injuries and casualties. The explosion was caused by the tower contents overheating and overfilling, releasing a hydrocarbon vapor cloud that combusted when it came into contact with an ignition source.

Failure to immediately identify technical and operational problems in the field can lead to dangerous incidents. This is why your mobile field workers need a reliable system for tracking the health of every stranded asset and performing their Rounds on a routine basis.

By switching from paper-based Operator Rounds and Checklists to a mobile app, you can significantly reduce process safety incidents at your plant. A mobile app promotes safety by:

  • Ensuring that every asset is inspected consistently: If your Operators fail to complete a Round before the end of their shift, that incomplete Round can be picked up and completed by  the next Operator. As a result, your Operators are more likely to catch potential problems right away.
  • Standardizing software-based asset inspections and Checklists: Your Operators won’t forget essential operating steps or inspection protocols because this information is listed directly in the app.
  • Encouraging Operators to take immediate action: When something goes wrong out in the field, the mobile app will alert your workers right away and offer them detailed escalation procedures. For example, the app might tell an Operator to shut the machine down immediately, move to a safe location and contact a supervisor.

When your Operators are better equipped to track the health of the plant’s assets and take action when needed, you’re much less likely to experience serious safety incidents in the field.

Step 2: Ensure That Every Operator is the Best Operator

Another way to reduce process safety incidents at your power plant is to properly train your mobile workers and check that they all have the latest information about safety protocols. This isn’t always easy, especially if you oversee multiple Operator shifts at a large power generation plant.

The simplest way to ensure that your mobile field workers are all on the same page is to require your Operators to use a digital (not paper) mobile data collection platform at all times. With a mobile app, you can make last-minute changes to your safety standards without informing any of your Operators directly. The moment they connect to the app, the updates automatically synch to their devices. This information is also available offline, so workers don’t have to stay on the network to access important safety information.

With a mobile app, you won’t have to rely on a handful of seasoned Operators to supervise the less-experienced mobile workers out in the field. You’ll essentially make every one of your employees an expert on every asset in your plant. The app will tell your Operators exactly what your plant equipment maintenance procedures are, and will offer them steps to take corrective action in the event something goes wrong.

Step 3: Analyze Data Trends to Identify Holes in Your Safety Protocol

One last step that you can take to reduce process safety incidents at your power plant is to carefully analyze the data that your Operators collect from the field. When it comes to preventing safety incidents, it’s not enough to focus on the daily tasks at-hand. You also need to look ahead and catch potential issues before they pose a risk to your mobile workers.

For example, your Operators might consistently check a valve every day, and the readings they gather from this asset could fall within the normal range. However, if you analyze the data trends for that asset over the past six months, you may see that the valve has slowly been losing pressure over time, and this could have a negative impact on your plant’s operations if this trend is allowed to continue.

Rather than taking your data readings one day at a time, use digital trend reports to determine whether there are potential safety issues that haven’t been addressed yet. Is an asset failure a fluke or a trend? When you use a data collection platform that automatically generates reports for all of your plant’s assets and operations, you can answer this question much more confidently. This allows you to taking meaningful action and prevent safety incidents before they begin.


How to Reduce Process Safety Incidents at Your Power Plant

When you track the health of your assets, train your mobile workers and commit to analyzing your plant’s data trends over time, you can effectively reduce process safety incidents at your power plant. With a mobile data collection app, these changes are easy to make, requiring no time-consuming installation process or extensive training. By making the switch from paper-based Rounds to a digital system, you’ll prioritize the safety of your mobile workers and create a secure environment for your Operators.

Request a demo of our GoPlant mobile app today to find out more about how you can use the platform to reduce process safety incidents in your plant. The GoPlant software system offers Plant Operations Managers detailed data trend reports as well as Operator Rounds and Checklists that are designed to keep your plant running efficiently, and most importantly, safely. Connect with our team today to learn more about implementing this reliable safety system at your power plant.