“Safety has earned an escalated level of attention that we all must embrace.” – Groome Industrial Service Group’s Vice President of Sales Steve Houghton

In the fifth installment of Groome’s monthly webinar series, our Vice President of Sales Steve Houghton is joined by Denis Crayon, President of Experience Safety Institute, to discuss the importance of coordinated and comprehensive safety measures in facilities, particularly during this time of heightened precaution due to COVID-19.

The pandemic forced many refiners to postpone scheduled turnarounds to help slow the spread of COVID-19. As we enter another turnaround and outage season, it is more important than ever to ask, “Can we do more?” and “Should we do anything different?” Even in normal times, determining whether or not to have a planned outage depends on many factors, chief among them cost, vendor support and safety.

Unplanned work – and unplanned outages – adds an average of 30-40% to the baseline cost of planned maintenance and work. The additional expenses are avoidable and controllable, but the question is how to avoid them. Complete a risk-benefit analysis to determine the need, cost, recovery time, production demand and safety concerns of a planned outage to help you decide if your work is “pushable.”

Taking a hard look at the resources your vendor offers is another critical aspect to safe outage planning. Are the staff trained and tenured? Will they be able to retain their crew during the pandemic and in future unanticipated circumstances? Do they have a safety plan in place that coordinates with yours? Do they offer turnkey services that will increase efficiency while limiting exposure and reducing risk? Houghton notes that the more applicable strategic relationships and services available, the better the turnkey option.

Safety management during planned outages is a complex and essential responsibility. Compliance to existing safety standards is key, and Crayon recommends that companies utilize resources from HR and insurance, as well as local, state and federal programs to help employees deal with stress and avoid complacency, especially during the pandemic. Assigning a “gatekeeper” to coordinate frequent and ongoing communications is a good way to create a culture of safety across your organization.

Safety bubbles are made up of those people that are potentially affected by the actions of others in the same environment. In a plant or refinery, a safety bubble includes plant personnel, contractors and vendors, and the local community at large. Implement safety plans and establish protocols in your facility to ensure safety during the pandemic, such as taking temperatures, requiring proper PPE usage and documenting travel. Utilizing contractors that offer turnkey services can also help manage the safety bubble by limiting vendor count and offering strategic scheduling.

Disinfection service providers need to be vetted to be certain that they fit the needs of your facility. Ask questions to ensure that their cleaning methods meet CDC and EPA requirements and adhere to SDS guidelines. Watch out for red flags such as low square footage price or high one-time cost. Daily routines and weekly regimens in a sealed environment should be the standard for peace of mind.

With over fifty years of experience in the industrial cleaning space, safety is the cornerstone at Groome. To learn more about the disinfection process that Groome uses, as well as our other turnkey services, please contact Steve Houghton at shoughton@groomeindustrial.com.