Whether through negligence or simply ignorance of proper and safe operating practices, hundreds — perhaps thousands, depending on scale — of accidents occur annually in industrial facilities, ranging from small chemical leaks to conflagrations like the recent West, Texas, fertilizer plant explosion. From faulty equipment to human error, the causes vary but the results are the same: lost production, facility damage, injured personnel (or worse), downtime and financial losses.
Weighed against the potential costs, the investments required to comply with national standards such as NFPA 86 and 654 seem a bargain. In this issue of Process Heating, we have two articles that can help you get up to speed on these important standards. In “Training: A Code Requirement & Key to Safety,” Katie Huller of CEC Combustion Safety in Cleveland provides a thorough overview of the training requirements for owners and operators of industrial ovens, furnaces, thermal oxidizers, kilns and other heated enclosure used for processing materials. As Huller notes in the article, beginning on page 14, it is quite common within corporations and at individual facilities to overlook training, assuming the existing knowledge base is adequate. The codes say otherwise. Annual training via a documented program is required for anyone responsible for operating, maintaining or supervising an oven, furnace or other heated enclosure used for processing materials. “Thorough training significantly reduces the risk of experiencing a combustion-related accident,” Huller says.
NFPA 654, the combustible dust standard, is another essential safety standard. Owners or operators of facilities that manufacture, process, blend, convey, repackage or handle combustible particulate solids or hybrid mixtures (regardless of concentration or particle size) must conduct a hazard assessment to determine if a flash fire or explosion hazard exists inside the plant. Steven J. Luzik, PE, CFEI, a senior process safety specialist at Chilworth Technology Inc., Princeton, N.J., thoroughly defines the methods for assessing combustible dust hazards in his article beginning on page 18. “The 2013 edition [of NFPA 654] incorporated a number of changes, [including] administrative controls such as safety-management practices, added training requirements for contractors and subcontractors, and incident investigation and reporting requirements,” Luzik notes.