Improvements to plant permit process benefits safety
Best Practices Award
Workers missed permit process steps because of distraction caused by unintentional disorder materializing when contractors corralled the space to request a permit or to manage existing permits. This uncontrolled access would create a means for disorder, thus becoming the culprit of distraction leading to process step mismanagement.Challenge. During turnaround (outage) periods at the McClain Energy Facility, our permit process implementation for lock-out/tag-out (Loto) clearances, confined space, hot work, etc, had resulted in safety near-miss occurrences, the majority of which were caused by simple human error as the result of distraction.
Solution. After an in-depth review of the facility’s permit process implementation, plant leadership determined a more rigorous system could be employed to further mitigate the potential for human error. The following depicts the process enhancements made:
• Designed and constructed a dedicated work-space permit area attached to the control room solely for the facilitation of clearances and all other outage-related permits (Figs 1, 2).
• During outage periods, the shift supervisor or designee is deemed “outage coordinator,” and is accountable for all permit process/procedure coordination and implementation.
• Restricted the access of all non-essential personnel to the permit/control room space. Previously, during outage periods, contractors and others would enter the control room, as it was the accepted practice for permit handling.
• Installed a service window in the permit work space to control (one at a time) engagement between personnel and the outage coordinator for clearances and other permit handling (Fig 3).
• Modified the plant’s safety indoctrination training to include awareness for the new process enhancements.
However, the true testament of success is yet to be measured as the plant has yet to undergo an outage since the addition of the permit room. Plant personal undoubtedly know that this project is and will continue to be a great enhancement of safety success.Results. The new permit work space now provides a central area to store, manage, and facilitate—namely clearances—both member and contractor permitting. We included storage cabinets, lock boxes, metal pegboard, SAP clearance management center, and telephone as means to authenticate, define, and appraise the new process-control rigor.
Benjamin Privett, operations manager
Michael Booher, shift supervisor
Billy Bowien, shift supervisor
Joel Hinson, shift supervisor
Gerald Keeling, shift supervisor