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Safety Tips for Handling a Plant Maintenance Shutdown

Safety Tips for Handling a Plant Maintenance Shutdown

Plant shutdowns are an essential procedure for many big construction and mining companies. In fact, it’s something that cannot be compromised on. Be it for equipment maintenance, replacement or repurposing reasons, a plant shutdown is required to prevent an unforeseen shutdown in the near future. 

While these projects are important, they are dangerous, time-consuming and extremely costly for business owners. In order to ensure that processes run smoothly, businesses need to employ professional staff to teach employees about the different shutdown procedures to prevent anything risky from happening in these isolated, confined and hazardous areas. 

It’s important for employees to feel safe in this line of work. And, unfortunately, because this is an environment which is more dangerous than others, you need to make sure your staff are well-equipped with the right knowledge to be able to operate in these unsafe situations. Here are a few safety tips: 


Safety equipment

Business owners should put together a safety precaution process which ensures that every employee on duty needs to wear the required safety gear while on the premises. Workstations also need to be kept clean and tidy to prevent anything from making employees fall or slip. Staff members should make sure their hair is tied back and they’ve taken off any loose clothing or jewellery that may cause implications. 


Risk assessment

With professional health and safety precautions in place, employees will be educated about the different machinery and how to prevent any accidents from happening. During plant shutdowns, there is plenty of heavy-duty machinery and equipment that gets moved around for maintenance, so employees should not take any unnecessary risks and should always stay calm to prevent a potentially dangerous situation from happening. If your business is unaware of the risk assessment required, your equipment supplier should be able to offer specialised staff training around plant and maintenance shutdowns. 


Safety training

As mentioned, health and safety training is essential when working in a plant. Employees must always be cautious of their surroundings, and assist their colleagues in making the right decisions. There are legal implications when it comes to machinery safety procedures, so ensure that your business takes the time to employ a training team who can assist your staff in the learning process. 


Emergency evacuation drills

As part of the safety training programme, you will learn about emergency evacuation drills and how employees can best conduct themselves in case of an emergency. These exits should be carefully defined so that employees know where fire exits and extinguishers are, and how to use them. It’s also important to determine which machines must be shut down and which can be left running in the process of evacuation. Again, in case of emergency, all working areas should be kept clean to avoid any accidents. Any tools that are in use during the duration of the plant shutdown should be monitored, and if there is any defect on a tool or machine, report it immediately so that it can be repaired.


Operating heavy machinery

Only staff members who are assigned to work on a specific machine should operate it. These individuals are trained accordingly and can prevent accidents from happening, should something go wrong. If you’re using something you’re unfamiliar with, do not take chances. All safety guards on machinery should be installed, and if you experience a malfunction, review the machine immediately. 

While these plant shutdowns are costly for businesses to perform, they are essential to ensuring that all machinery and tools are working efficiently. If you don’t have the finances to maintain a specific machine or rent something else in the meantime, consult with your supplier about the different plant and machinery finance options. Whatever you do, let your staff take advantage of these shutdowns to have professionals review anything with a defect or something that might cause a problem down the line. 


Keep a clear head 

To ensure that the plant shutdown process runs smoothly, ensure that your staff members feel confident in their tasks and are comfortable with operating and shutting down existing equipment. When everyone keeps a clear head, you’ll be able to focus better and prevent any accidents from happening. Along with a clean and tidy working space, make sure staff have the correct lighting fixtures to help them operate efficiently, as well as proper ventilation so that they don’t have to breathe in any hazardous fumes. Employees should also be forbidden from working under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and any employees who require medication for various reasons should notify management about any side effects in advance.


Final words: 

As you can see, planning for a plant shutdown is a lengthy process. However, having health and safety precautions in place makes it easier for business operations to run smoothly. Every company needs to make sure that their employees are aware of the different safety precautions, so that their working environment is safe. All safety rules and regulations should be applied to everyone, and if anyone breaches these rules, they should be punished. At the end of the day, it’s about collectively building a safe working environment where people feel at ease. Especially in such a potentially dangerous environment.

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