There are Countless Reasons to Avoid Disaster and Prioritize Safety, We Have Identified the Five Most Important
The NFPA estimated that in 2016 alone, there were 37,000 fires that took place at industrial or manufacturing facilities. Those fires caused upwards of $265M in damages, to say nothing of the cost of human life and suffering. Preventative measures and proactive planning are critical to maintaining your facility’s safety.
There’s nothing more vital for the health of your organization than the safety of your workers and your facility. What we often see, unfortunately, is that too many manufacturers do not perform regular safety inspections.
While the NFPA cannot make rules or laws, governments, such as the fire marshal, can make portions of it a law to require safety inspections. In addition to legal requirements surrounding safety inspections, your insurance provider probably follows and requires the same NFPA guidelines.
Per NFPA 86 Section 7.4, there are tests and inspections that must be performed at least annually, these are:
- Testing safety interlocks for function
- Inspecting impulse lines, if applicable
- Verifying set point of temperature, pressure, or flow devices used as safety interlocks
- Testing safety devices
- Calibrating continuous vapor concentration high limit controllers
- Visually inspecting pressure and explosion relief devices to ensure that they are unobstructed and properly labeled
- Valve seat leakage testing of safety shutoff valves and valve proving systems
- Verifying the set point of pressure relief valves
If your operation has a continuous vapor concentration, high limit controllers should be performed at least once per month.
Avoiding a Thermal Event
Equipment maintenance always provides a challenge for most industrial companies. Your staff is often the frontline for maintaining those best practices as well as knowing the ins and outs of existing machines. Without adequate documentation, what happens when those workers are no longer there? Many thermal events happen because of staff turnover. Newer and less-experienced staff is unaware of how to safely operate and maintain aging infrastructure or outdated equipment.
With an onslaught of upcoming retirements and an influx of less-experienced workers, there’s a knowledge loss that many leaders are well aware of. During that training and transition period, it’s too easy to overlook the threat of inexperience.
Workforce dynamics can often mean that outdated infrastructure goes unnoticed or untreated. Your outgoing staff may be more familiar with what’s needed to maintain older equipment. Without that internal knowledge, or with aging infrastructure, either situation could leave your company vulnerable to a combustion event.
Protecting Staff Well-Being
Safety regulations are in place to protect both your facility and the surrounding community. That especially includes the staff that’s working with, and around, your equipment. The last thing you want to experience during your career is seeing a valued staff member injured in an explosion or a fire.
Accidents are traumatic for the staff, but they can also be expensive and dangerous. Remember, just one minute of uncontrolled combustion in a 12MM BTU burner can do as much damage to a structure as approximately 100 lbs. of TNT. You don’t want anyone to be near a radius of an explosion of that size.
It may often feel like a burden to satisfy regulatory hurdles, and inspections can certainly fall under that umbrella. Yes, inspections can interrupt your workflow, but it’s hard to imagine anything worse than watching a trusted and respected member of the team suffer needlessly from a worksite accident, the very type that could have been avoided with a timely inspection.
Managing Direct and Indirect Costs
Direct costs are usually the predictable and budgeted cost of doing business. Indirect costs are far less predictable and can be harder to plan for. While they are inevitable, the more you schedule maintenance, inspections, and repairs, the less your overall overhead is negatively impacted by issues that arise from equipment failures and accidents.
Unplanned downtime is expensive and can lead to serious morale issues. When a critical piece of equipment is down, it can be costly to the entire organization. It’s true that inspections can also disrupt your day’s schedule, but it’s far less invasive and disruptive than an accident, fire, injury, or equipment failure. Planned maintenance can also be scheduled (during slower times of year, in between shifts, etc.). Unplanned downtime puts your entire workflow at the mercy of repair personnel (or worse), making it impossible to keep to a schedule let alone a budget.
Accidents, as well as unscheduled maintenance and repairs, can wreak havoc on your budget and your productivity. Equipment repair is often just as expensive, if not more so, than maintenance.
Also, while we discussed staff safety above, staff morale is just as important. Safety concerns can also lead to higher staff attrition, driving talent away and causing an even more negative impact on your bottom line. It costs money to hire and train new people, so respecting their safety also saves you the expense of replacing them.
It’s one thing for you to say that you take the well-being of your staff seriously (and you should). It’s another when they actually see it in practice. When your staff observes your making time and taking great expense to keep them safe, you are sending a direct message about their value to your organization.
Safeguarding Against Human Error
Even under the best of circumstances, we all make mistakes. What we see time and time again is that the people most frequently cause accidents, and not the equipment itself. If you leave it up to operators to work as both operator and inspector, you’re more likely to see accidents happen in your facility. And those accidents can be both costly and dangerous.
What if your staff, for example, makes assumptions about settings? What happens if your operators are unaware of how to operate equipment properly?
Working with an experienced NFPA-compliant partner ensures that:
- Your safety inspections are scheduled at recommended intervals
- Annual inspections don’t fall off the calendar and safety tests are appropriately documented
- You’re working with technicians who are well-versed in NFPA, FM, or IRI recommendations for your equipment
Two Words: Insurance Premiums
Worker’s compensation and insurance claims mean higher insurance premiums and more in insurance payouts. Insurance companies often also require regular safety inspection, testing and documentation to maintain your coverage. If you’re not sure where to start, BDC’s team is deeply knowledgeable about all current NFPA guidelines for safety inspections.
When we test we look at a range of functions, including:
- Gas leaks
- Sequence tests for flame safety
- Testing gas regulators and sensors
- Inspecting and testing all of your flame-sensors and warning systems
- Pressure switch testing
- Wiring inspections
- Burners and burner operations
- Purge operation testing.
A well-documented and efficient testing standard ensures your equipment stays up and running. It further safeguards that if something should go wrong, the failures aren’t dangerous, life-endangering, or catastrophic. Aside from legal and insurance reasons, there are also economic and logistical reasons to work with a provider that has the expertise and authority to schedule and complete your inspections. BDC’s team is trained to provide optimal technical and safety expertise to our customers.
Reduce risk of accidents and equipment failure, reach out to us at 1-800-432-5810 or schedule a service call today.