There are several aspects in assessing risk management as it pertains to your thermal oxidizer system and its operation. Each of these items is important in its own right, and a good risk management plan addresses them in a cohesive global fashion to ensure things operate and perform as designed.
These key items include:
- Employee safety
- Environmental compliance
- Capital equipment protection
- Production protection
Let’s take a quick look at these four aspects.
The most immediately important aspect of risk management is employee safety. Obviously, everybody wants to go home whole and healthy at the end of every shift. In addition, injuries (or worse), are very expensive to address. They may create a negative public relations component. Clearly, safety is critical.
RTO safety starts with the design engineering. Design engineering starts with good process data. If your process is a new one, has changed, or is currently poorly understood even if running well, a comprehensive process audit should be completed.
The appropriate controls interlocks and operating protocols should be designed into the systems. Any control or physical safety mechanisms should be left intact (i.e. not reprogrammed or “jumpered-out”) and used as intended. Physical components should be designed with as much regard to basic safety as possible, avoiding lifts by using hinged doors instead of panels, adequate access when needed, ladders, rails, etc.
Often, these safety enhancements provide real operating savings by making standard maintenance efforts easier — and thus significantly faster.
When an oxidizer system is operated as designed and maintained properly, environmental compliance is not typically an issue.
Depending on your specific air permit, your monitoring may range from a chart recorder to an on-line continuous emissions monitoring system. In every case, you must be diligent in recording the required data. A significant number of permit violations are related to recordkeeping issues. As with safety, environmental compliance issues can present a public relations challenge, especially if they are substantial or ongoing.
Finally, it is important to assess the impact of any process changes to ensure the operating parameters and system performance are where they need to be.
Capital equipment protection
Oxidizer systems and the processes and equipment they control are typically capital intensive. The comprehensive process hazard review will not only protect your employees, but will serve to protect your capital equipment as well.
Failure modes will be addressed, and integrated safety systems will be included as needed and appropriate. Insurance codes will be also reviewed for compliance.
Maintenance and service are common but often underappreciated aspects of capital equipment protection. Regular maintenance schedules, and comprehensive inspections as needed, should be the norm. Any recommended repairs or remedial actions should be addressed as rapidly as possible depending on their potential impact.
Most air permits allow for little or no production without the use of your control system. If your system is down, your plant is down. Again, the three key factors are the appropriate equipment design and manufacture, correct operations and regular maintenance; all are critical to maintaining your operation.
From start to finish, in all aspects, the system should avoid any risk through design and continually reduce risk through proper safety components, operation and maintenance. These will provide the tangible and measurable benefits of safety and continued production as well as prevent economic risk exposure through avoidable negative incidents. NESTEC’s highly experienced team can work with your personnel to achieve these positive results.
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