Process Plant Design And Operation

A plant is a place, where industrial processes are taken place to manufacture various products used in the world. The plants may use chemical or non-chemical material to create a new product. The plant design and overview has taken the consideration of majorly, chemical plants, construction and mining sites. Employers, apart from the interest of the profit, they are bound the legal aspects in terms of providing the environment that is safe and healthy for the operators to work within the plant. The overall layout, design, maintenance and regular usage of the equipment and material should be bound to the laws and acts that ensure the safety of the workforce, public and environment.

General Access to Plant

Each and every plant must have sufficient experience and knowledge for identifying and managing the possible risks, related with the people and plant interface.

The plant has to recruit Plant Vehicle Marshals, and they should wear the following all the time, when they play role of PVM (Pitblado, 2011).

  • Red safety helmet through risk assessment, wherever and with whatever applicable
  • Jacket or vest in orange color for high visibility that usually label as “Vehicle Marshals”
  • Trousers in orange color for high visibility
  • Gloves in orange color for high visibility
  • Helmet lamps having red and white color, especially for highway works and while working during nights

The plants have to appoint an employee, as a coordinator between plant, vehicle and pedestrian. The control measures are to be to the people entering the site of work area. Every change made with the arrangements of the plan must be informed and updated to the workforce, immediately (Uhl & Ksrsten, 2016).

Fire Safety and Management

Every plant has to follow code of practice to manage a safe and secured environment for the workforce. The code of practice becomes the guide to follow to ensure that the plant is safe and secured from the fire. They should follow the code of work health and safety act, from their respective governments. There should be accurate fire and explosion characteristics for the material and equipment used in the plant (Uhl & Ksrsten, 2016). Causes and consequences of fire are to be analysed through process hazard analysis.

Fire prevention is taken care by process safety. The process safety is conducted by the plants through QRA or Quantified Risk Assessment. The approach of QRA is followed for estimating the possible risks associated with the fire, which may be caused from direct fire or chemical operations. This assessment is done through probabilistic information (Pitblado, 2011). The results after the assessment are then interpreted with increased sensitivity to the possible uncertainties that may arise majorly from the data’s probabilistic characters..

Disposal of Waste

There is no doubt that hazardous chemicals are produced as by-products, after the operational procedures in the plant. Environmentally, there can be potential waste is produced and the trash comparator has to be located over concrete pad that is exterior to the function (Pitblado, 2011). The waste can be subjected to the elements in external weather, like rain, ice, etc. and it causes to trips, falls or slips. So, concrete has to be roughed to increase the traction.

The trash comparators may cause entrap or crush the body parts. So, the comparator has to be operated with a safety switch. The non-working equipment has to be marked as ‘out-of-service’. If there is any biological waste, the trash may lead to growth of bacteria and also any possible microorganisms that could cause infections of the skin and others. So, it must be cleaned on regular basis with mild detergent and should not use phosphoric acid. Ergonomic waste from the trans cans are usually heavy and could cause the muscles to be strained. So, it is important to empty the trash, every day so that the container overloading can be prevented.

On Site Disaster Management and Training

Disasters are very easy, when there is no sufficient safety and precautionary measures are not taken by the plants. Simple hazards can make big disasters. So, hazards and so the disasters can be eliminated with the hazard elimination practices, such as automation, isolation, substitution, modification, separation.

When the hazards and so disasters cannot be eliminated, they should be well controlled through engineering controls. The best available and feasible engineering controls are to be explored. Engineering controls can be set, such as arrangements of the physical barriers that should be placed as guards in between the receptors, such as people, environment, property, etc. and the hazard (Uhl & Ksrsten, 2016).

If the hazards cannot be eliminated with the above strategies and if engineering controls cannot be set, the alternative can be administrative controls. Disasters can be controlled by setting the administrative controls, such as written procedures, protocols and appropriate training for the employees. For example, the management has to set the administrative controls, such as job sharing, work rotation, reporting of accidents, near misses and review of the same, scheduling considerations, etc.

On-Site Operator Training and Facilities, Procedures

Processing plants need to carry out the necessary risk assessments, unique to the plants and infrastructure and make the necessary arrangements for implementing the measures needed. The management has to recruit and appoint skilled and competent people for providing the necessary training and all the information about the processes and procedures in the plant. The workforce has to be facilitated with the basic health, welfare by protecting them against heating, ventilation, workstations, lighting, welfare and seating facilities (Uhl & Ksrsten, 2016).

The plants have to follow certain regulations that set out certain and unique requirements for the work and provide VDU or Visual Display Units, wherever necessary. They should be facilitated with the protective equipment, protective clothing appropriately. The management of the plant has to ensure that the equipment provided for performing the operations of the plant is safe enough.

Every section of the plant has to be provided with the first aid facility to ensure that the victim, who meets with the accident, gets medical administration immediately.

General Access Material – Bunds, Catchment, Fences, Warning Signs, Evacuation

Every plant has processes that are massive and very large in size and operation. So, the plants have to display the posters necessary to tell the employees, about what they have to know to move around in the respective sections and regarding safety and health.

All the plants should have preplanning for possible and serious releases, which stand as an essential elements in the line of defense of employer. If any serious or highly hazardous chemicals do occur, the following actions to be taken are to be well explored by the employer, to prevent the risk and loss. For example, the employees should have immediate access to the fences, bunds, warning signs, catchments, etc. to use them effectively, as and when required. The access of every feet of the plant should be well warned and signed with the help of the plant layout, utility drawings, community maps, emergency lighting, water for extinguishing fire and reference material related to them.

All the employees and workforce re to be instructed about the operating procedures conducted in the plant. Standard operating practices are to be trained to the employees for operating procedures.

Machine Guards, Accessibility to Machine and Process Control Equipment

Regarding the process control equipment, the information related to the equipment design has to be well documented. The documentation has to include the code and standards related to the establishing good engineering practices. The employers need to consult the workforce and other employees to explore their issues, risks towards developing and implementing the safety management programs of processes (Uhl & Ksrsten, 2016).

Machine guards are important, such as personal protective equipment. This equipment is needed for the employees to save themselves from the residual risk, which is remained after administrative control and engineering practices implementation. The responsibility of using the machine guards by the workforce is given usually to the supervisors, and the supervisor has to ensure that all the respective employees are appropriately trained for the usage and maintenance of the personal protective equipment. The personal protective equipment can be helpful for the employees for the protection for the hands, skin, feet, ears, hand, head, face, eyes, etc.

Electrical Safety and Training

Plants have to maintain electrical safety by providing adequate training for using the electronic and electrical equipment that is usually of higher voltages, in the plants. The plants have to explain all the possible safety issues, because of the poor electrical safety measures by the employees. All the safety standards are to be informed through instructions and manuals. They should meet the key requirements of the safety standards. They should be able to differentiate in between the professionals, who are qualified and unqualified. The standard should be specific to each of the section of the plant, based on the equipment that has been used.

The plants have to use a survey called ‘status check’ for assessing the electrical safety program of the facility and should develop and define the necessary strategies to improve the safety environment within the plant. Electrically safe work conditions are to be noted and informed to the employees. The necessary specific steps are to be developed for ensuring the safe work conditions electrically in the plant.

Proximity to Residential or Industrial Area, Public Parks, Sports Grounds

Every plant has some intensified and massive operations for production of various products in the world. As a part of that there can be many hazards released as by-products and these by-products can be hazards to the public. These hazards can be gas leaks, fire that can be resulted either inside within the plant or extend to outside the plant, becoming hazardous to the public.

So, every plant has to have standard distance and proximity to the residential area, sports grounds and public parks. So, it is always a safe practice for the plants to be set up far from the residential area, so that the potential hazards to the public can be minimized (Uhl & Ksrsten, 2016).

Plant Emissions, Odours, By-Products and Potential Risks From Them

Most of the plants emit the waste that is in various forms, as the following.

  • Environmental hazards – There are many kinds of environmental hazards produced by the plants, as part of the processes and procedures in the plant, such as noise, vibration, temperature extremes, radiation, illumination etc. There can be wet walking surfaces and uneven walking surfaces that could potentially dangerous to the employees, such as trips, slips, falls, entrapment, working at heights, etc. (Uhl & Ksrsten, 2016).
  • Chemical Hazards – These chemical hazards include both health or internal to the body hazards and physical that are external to the body, hazards, such as lead, strong chemical odours that may damage the lungs, etc.
  • Ergonomic stressors – There can be many kinds of ergonomic stressors, such as posture, repetitive motion, force, lifting, bending, twisting, position, etc. that could be potentially hazardous to the employees to the physical health and fitness.
  • Biological hazards – There can be biological hazards from, especially, experimental laboratories, etc. These hazards include viruses, fungi, bacteria, body fluids, parasites, etc.
  • Mechanical or tools or equipment hazards – Most of the plants do have the plant emissions or equipment that can be potentially dangerous to the employees working with them. These hazards can be potential for stored energy, rotating parts, sharp edges, flying projectiles, pinch points, etc.

Weather Protection of Operators, Drainage, Runoff, Leaching, Flood Potential

All the operators working for the plants, in the exterior places, especially in the construction industry are to be well protected from the weather, which is harsh and sometimes extreme. This concern is more and specific for the construction and mining industry operators. All these operators are to be protected against the external air quality, usage of energy, visual impacts, noise, vibrations, hazardous materials, wastes at outdoor, land use and biodiversity.

The plant has to take initiatives for fugitive dust emissions from the plants, waste dumps, exposed areas. All the operators, who are working in the harsh weathers and outdoors have to be insured. First aid and medical administrative should be made available at every point of time during the operation of the plant, construction site or mining sites (Uhl & Ksrsten, 2016).

Power Supply or Supply Failure, Machine Shutdown, Restarts, Process Vulnerability to Power Failure

All the plants have to have standard procedure for start-up and shutdown of the machines and equipment used in the plant, as there can be several and potential hazards could be occurred or realized during these procedures. So, standard operating procedures are to be followed, considering all possible eventualities of the start-up and shutdown of the power supply. The following hazards can accidents are possible, when considerable care and safety procedures are not taken (Uhl & Ksrsten, 2016).

  • Furnaces – It may explode, if fuel ignition gets delayed
  • Dryers – If the dryers are attempted to start-up right after the plant shutdown or maintenance, the actual temperature can be reached, before it settles itself with the control system. Such practice may result in explosion of the dust.
  • Reactors – When the reactors are attempted to be started after batch reactors, after the failure of agitator, it may result in exothermic reaction that cannot be controlled.
  • Tanks, Vessels, Reactors – When they are started, it may introduce ignition of flammable vapours, for the systems that rely on the oxygen elimination for explosion prevention. So, it should be prevented by using the inert gas purging.

Plant Construction/Material, Layout, Spacing Between Stages, Emergency Access, Maintenance Access

Each and every plant has to have a standard and safe access to the various spaces in the plant that vary in the safety of the occurrence. There should be a standard procedure written and informed to the employees, about the access and safe usage of the pressure vessels, process piping, fire protection system components, storage tanks, emergency shutdown systems, relief and vent systems, emergency shutdown alarms, pumps, interlocks, etc. (Kidam & Hurme, 2013) The overall layout of the plant has to be designed suitable for the first line of control, second line of control and third line of control. The first line of control is the safety of direct usage of the material and space in the plant. Second line of control is setting the engineering controls to safer access to the layout, spaces between stages and emergency access. Finally, third line of control is the emergency preparedness. All the employees must have safer maintenance access and emergency access. Third line of control is considered after first line of control and second line of control fail in the plant. 

Individual Operator Safety, Exposure to Heat, Harmful Processes/Materials

All the plants, no matter hazardous or not, have to take care of the individual operator safety against all possible accidents and hazards in the plants. Eventually, the plants have to follow the Health and Safety Commission (HSC) Laws and Acts. According to this law, the following steps are to be taken by every plant.

  • Make all necessary arrangement to implement the measures for health and safety and these measures are to be explored and identified through risk assessments
  • The plant has to appoint competent people and qualified people, preferably from within the company or through colleagues of the company for implementing such arrangements
  • Set up the procedures that are emergency
  • All necessary safety and precautions are to be provided to the employees through adequate and compulsory training
  • Employees of the plant to share the safer workplace and work together

The structure of the health and safety are modernized to control the risks and increase the individual safety, through making certain changes in the technology, risks and industries and promoting the public concern and to identify the evidence of ill health and accidents (Kidam & Hurme, 2013).

Working at Heights, Depths, Enclosed Spaces, within Harmful Environments

Many of the processes in the plants are vulnerable for free movement of the workforce. There can be taller heights, deeper depths or spaces that are enclosed, with no easier movements. Hence the employer or the management of the plant has to take insurance against all possible accidents for their employees. Harmful environments, such as noisy environments, high voltage electricity, hard chemical substances, complex construction sites, gaseous environments are to be well considered for providing protection necessary for their employees (Pitblado, 2011).

The plants operating in noisy environments must provide noise protection devices for the employees of the plant, to prevent hearing damage. Access to the hazardous substances must be provided and associated with the precautions appropriately. There must be certain regulations set for access to hazardous chemicals, such as lead, asbestos, etc.


The overall plant design and overview must be abiding the laws and acts of the respective government of the state and nation. The plant design has to consider the general access to the plant, fire safety, right and safer way of disposal of waste, proper training for the employees for on-site disaster management, safer access to the material, facilities, equipment and machinery, electrical safety with adequate training, safer way to dispose the plant emissions and by-products, safer environment for the operators, standard operating procedures to operate the equipment with the power supply, individual safety and health concerns.


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