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Top 3 Process Safety Pain Points in COVID 19 Crisis

Written by Risk Alive

March 27, 2020

Everyone is working to adapt to the new reality of the COVID-19 crisis and the impacts to work processes – and companies who operate facilities like refineries, fertilizer plants and upstream oil & gas production facilities are no different. What is different, however are the implications of changes to staffing levels and the criticality of safety for these facilities.

High hazard facilities regularly operate in scenarios with greater potential for danger than offices and many other workspaces, making navigating the current “new normal” in the face of our current global health crisis exponentially more challenging. Working with clients across the world to help better understand and strategically plan for operational risk means we see these challenges first-hand.

Right now, the top 3 challenges leaders in high hazard facilities must manage are:  

  1. Operating safely with minimum personnel.

The Issue: In order to prevent and control the transmission of the virus, plants are now forced to reduce their on-site workforce and operate with only critical, or essential, personnel. The challenge here is that there is no way to predict if the availability of staff. If an essential worker or family member is exposed to the virus, remedial measures remove that person from being able to work.

Questions to Ask to Find a Solution:

  • How can you help your remaining team to access critical information required to safely run the plant and maintain normal production?
  • How can teams better communicate critical information to people and help them better understand the importance of safeguards/ IPLs?
  1. Operating safely with minimum spend.

The Issue:  The impact of the virus on business operations across industries, in combination with a drop in oil price has forced companies to control operating costs in pretty drastic ways to cut budgets and preserve cash.

Questions to Ask to Find a Solution:

  • How can you ensure the right decisions are being made about budget cuts and optimizing spending?
  • Where can you focus your remaining resources to prioritize what is most critical that will provide the highest ROI in risk reduction and safe production?
  1. Regulatory requirements & commitments.

The Issue: Maintaining operations means maintaining normal expectations, like planned turnarounds, PHA submissions and other regulatory requirements. While many governing bodies have approved certain allowances or extended deadlines, approval for these opportunities often requires justification with proof of safe work scenarios.  

Questions to Ask to Find a Solution:

  • How do you make the case to delay the turnaround and give peace of mind that it is possible and safe to do so?
  • What evidence can you provide for the regulator and for yourself to prove and validate it will be safe?

These are not easy challenges to navigate – but staying ahead, or on top, of these issues will help streamline daily operations and support your team while building for business continuity on a long-term scale.

Relying on technology, data and existing business process as parts of the complex mix of considerations required in managing these challenges can be overwhelming and complicated.  

One tool that helps simplify this necessary approach is our own Risk Alive® analytical platform. We’ve worked hard over the last five years to create a sophisticated, powerful system designed to help lighten the leadership load especially in times like this.

Risk Alive®

  1. Prioritizes actions for your most critical safeguards, and audit critical elements to measure their effectiveness.
  2. Develop contingency and mitigation strategies where needed
  3. Identifies key human factors in your high-risk scenarios
  4. Determines your facility’s reliance on human intervention as a safeguard
  5. Educates site personnel on the importance and vulnerabilities of the safeguards
  6. Enables senior operations to provide remote support to site personnel on issues that surface

Curious what this means for your team? Connect with us – we’re always ready to help, now more than ever.

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