In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, oil and chemical facilities in the Gulf Coast region will begin restarting facilities shut down to weather the storm. The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) issued a safety alert urging them to take special precautions. The CSB notes that startup of major processes at chemical facilities is a hazardous phase. Facilities should pay particular attention to process safety requirements during this critical period to ensure a safe return to normal operations.

The safety alert outlines specific procedures to help ensure safe restarts, including:

  • Use appropriate management-of-change (MOC) processes before modifying any startup procedures, equipment or staffing arrangements due to the impact of the hurricane.
  • Make sure that adequate staffing and expertise are available before starting up. Recognize that human performance may be compromised due to crisis conditions.
  • Use up-to-date startup procedures and ensure that the available staff are trained in how to execute them.
  • Evacuate nonessential personnel, including personnel in trailers, from the vicinity of process units that are starting up.

Additional safety protocols require checking bulk storage tanks for evidence of floating displacement or damage, notes the CSB. The safety board also reminds facilities to examine insulation systems, sewers, drains, furnace systems, electric motors and other equipment, including warning systems, to make sure they are fully functional.

Download the safety alert here.