Chemical Process Safety and Fire Protection -- Occupational Health & Safety

2022-08-08 07:44:17 By : Mr. Jeff Xu

The importance of implementing loss prevention and mitigation techniques that are specifically written for the chemical processing industry.

The importance of implementing loss prevention and mitigation techniques that are specifically written for the chemical processing industry

Implementing loss prevention and mitigation techniques that are specifically written for the chemical processing industry (CPI) is essential to decreasing the likelihood of releases and limiting the resulting damage. The primary fire prevention and protection objectives in this industry are:

1. Decrease the likelihood of release.

2. Limit the amount of material that can become involved.

3. Prevent failures of vessels, piping, structural steel and safety systems that could lead to more severe events or a catastrophic loss.

In any chemical process the fundamental principles of process safety should be applied to decrease the likelihood of a release. Similarly, the fundamental principles of fire protection should be applied for mitigation of consequences. It is important that these two key elements are administered and reviewed by experts in process safety and fire protection to ensure adequate protection schemes are employed.

Focusing on guidance from OSHA, EPA, and other relevant industry practices will decrease the likelihood of releases and catastrophic loss. Fire protection practices are outlined in the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Fire Code NFPA 1 and the International Fire Code (IFC). These methodologies work in tandem to achieve loss prevention and mitigation.

The applicable codes require Process Hazard Analyses (PHAs) and Fire Hazard Analyses (FHAs) for most new chemical plants and those undergoing changes. The codes state that the analyses are to be performed by someone with expertise in chemical process safety and fire protection.

Additional building and system safeguards are often implemented as a result of these structured and systematic analyses. This can include improved exothermic reactor vessel cooling systems, isolation valve installation, pipe rack protection, etc. FM Global Datasheet 7-14, Fire Protection for Chemical Plants, indicates that over 60 percent of the surveyed chemical plant losses between 2003 and 2014 were attributed to equipment design problems and operator error. These items are evaluated when the correct hazard analysis methodology is employed. A PHA will include an evaluation of adequate system safeguards and human reliability aspects. This type of comprehensive review should decrease the chance of having a loss due to a design or human element issue.

This article originally appeared in the October 2019 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

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