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Startups, shutdowns, and other infrequent events

CSB Safety Digest provides lessons learned in hopes of preventing future incidents

Posted July 2, 2018

Process unit startups and shutdowns can be dangerous times for any facility, but especially for oil refineries or chemical facilities. A startup is a planned series of steps that take a process from an idle state to normal operation. A shutdown is the reverse sequence.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) recently published a Safety Digest addressing the hazards of startups and shutdowns. According to the CSB, data from the Center for Chemical Process Safety shows that process safety incidents occur five times more often during startups than during normal operations. In addition, a 2010 study of refinery incidents found 50 percent of process safety incidents occur during startups, shutdowns, and other infrequent events.

The CSB points out that startup and shutdown events are likely to involve non-routine procedures, which, in turn, can result in unexpected and unusual situations.

The Safety Digest urges facilities to employ effective communication, provide workers with appropriate training, and develop strong and up-to-date policies and procedures for startups and shutdowns.

In an effort to provide useful information to affected facilities, the Safety Digest also describes three real-life incidents that occurred during a startup or shutdown and provides lessons learned. Find the document on the CSB website.

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