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Safety Tips for Managing a Plant Shutdown

Category: Equipment and Solutions

When you know you need to shut down your plant, you probably also know how dangerous and hectic the operation can be. Whether you’re completing a shutdown for preventive maintenance, equipment replacement, facility repurposing or permanent closure, you need to keep the site and your employees safe throughout the process. It’s not always easy, but knowing the steps to take can ensure a successful shutdown and, if needed, reopening. Follow these tips to ensure your operation goes smoothly.

Make a Plan

This won’t happen in an hour, so make sure you give yourself ample time to create a foolproof, comprehensive plan for the shutdown. A scheduled outage could have a huge impact on your business operations, so try to begin your planning at least four months ahead of time. Conduct a full risk assessment and check additional resources to make sure you aren’t forgetting anything. Anticipate potential risks so you and your employees can avoid them.

Train Your Workforce

Plant turnaround safety should be reviewed annually because of the high-risk nature of the work. Re-educating your workforce about safety during the procedure is a step you won’t want to skip. Invest in your workers’ safety they’re your most valuable asset. Teach them the full emergency-response procedure in detail to ensure they’re ready for a shutdown.

Communicate Effectively Throughout the Process

Successful communication with your entire team starts far in advance of the shutdown with informing everybody of the plan and what their active role will be. You can avoid injuries and hazards through effective communication. Be sure you have a code in place phrases that mean someone needs to respond swiftly or motions that signal danger to everyone around. You might choose to implement verbal phrases, safety slogans, banners or hand motions, but make sure everyone is in on the plan.
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Assign Workers Correctly

Almost every shutdown involves heavy machinery and huge jobs that take several workers. It’s not the time to try to save on employee hours. Make sure you have qualified and fully trained workers managing machinery. Have someone spotting the operation and guiding equipment transport, and ensure you have the resources and manpower to manage and oversee each operation without risk or failure.
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Manage Your Materials and Equipment

One of the most crucial steps in the whole process is keeping hazardous material locked up and stored safely. You need to avoid exposure to acidic chemicals, toxic fumes, flammable gases, airborne fibers and more. If you can, have a specialist check for any exposure risks. Make sure you’re following OSHA’s guidelines at all times.

Next, unplug equipment that stores energy or poses a threat lock up the gear and protect the key until all work is complete so your workforce stays safe from all moving parts. Use restraint pads to keep your system off while workers are completing maintenance. Turn off the machine, padlock the system and hold onto the key.

Document the Procedure

You never know when you might need approval from inspectors, which means you need to keep detailed documentation on each machine’s maintenance. Plant executives and outage workers might come and go, but they all need to know the full procedure to ensure the right records. Make sure they know who will do what work, what energy sources require control, where to access control panels and how to remove a lockout.

If you’re in the process of planning a plant shutdown, NMC The Cat Rental Store can help. We’ll not only get you the high-quality machines you need at an affordable rate, but we’ll also provide a team of trained technicians to make sure your rental equipment and jobsites are adequately maintained for peak performance. Contact us now to learn more about our equipment services and rentals.
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