Full-body PPE is a must during refinery turnarounds, when the likelihood of coming into contact with substances containing chemicals is high. Examples of potential contact include spraying equipment, splashing water, working around polluted water, and tank cleaning around oil / sludge.
Hydroblast 3902 pressure washing
Beyond the absolute need for chemical protection, from substances like arsenic and hydrogen sulfide, most workers prefer to stay dry during oil refinery turnarounds! MCR Safety offers a variety of solutions, ranging from suits with hook and loop closures, to chemical-resistant gloves and steel-toed boots.
We highlight everything you need to know about cleaning refineries below, along with some PPE options to consider.
The Importance of Cleaning Refineries
Over time, dirt, grime, oil, chemicals, and debris build up within and upon equipment and other surfaces, including walls, doors, chimneys, and ovens. That gunk can become embedded in the substrate, cracks, and pipes. Build-up causes equipment to function slowly, improperly, and eventually break.
Build-up can also cause fire, increased air pollution, and additional risks for workers, who may breathe in harmful vapors, get built-up chemical materials on their skin or in their eyes, slip and fall on dirty surfaces, or lose their grip on a piece of equipment and get injured.
Refinery at night
Time and money must be spent to repair or replace dirty equipment. During refinery turnarounds, hours of production and thousands in income are lost while equipment is out of operation.
Cleaning Agents Used to Clean Refineries
There are a number of chemicals found in the cleaning agents necessary to clean refineries. The most common cleaning agents are inorganic and organic acids, chelating and complexing agents, alkaline cleaners, surfactants, organic solvents, and specialty additives.
When removing oxides and scale, the most common acid cleaning agents are sulphuric acid, hydrochloric acid, phosphoric acid and citric acid.
So, whether you’re dealing with substances that need to be removed during the cleaning process, or the agents used to clean them, you need to make sure that you are wearing the proper PPE to keep yourself safe.
Areas of Refineries That Need to Be Cleaned
Here are 17 areas of a refinery that need to be cleaned regularly to ensure optimum equipment performance:
1. amine units
3. FCCUs (Fluid Catalytic Cracking Unit)
4. fractionation columns in CDU (crude oil distillation unit)
5. fuel and gas systems
6. heat exchangers
7. HDSs (Hydrodesulfurization unit)
8. LC finers
9. lube units
Pipes are everywhere in a refinery
13. storage tanks
15. transportation equipment
FRHBS100 pressure washing transportation equipment
16. vacuum units
Cleaning During a Turnaround
Refinery tower, which will eventually need to be cleaned
There are several benefits to cleaning during a turnaround and when equipment is offline:
- Obtainment of gas-free equipment (to allow access for inspection and maintenance)
- Reduction of steam-out time, shutdown time, maintenance costs, and time required to perform the mechanical cleaning
There are two phases of off-line chemical cleaning, the steam phase (decontamination) and the liquid phase.
The first phase, the steam phase, is a “chemical cleaning” that reduces the steam-out time needed prior to entering the equipment during a turnaround. Benefits include reduced cleaning time and cleaner assets achieved by using high-quality steam. Steam cleaning can be used to clean: fractionation columns in the CDU, vacuum units, FCCU, visbreakers, HDS, LC finers, lube units, amine units, heat exchangers, separators, drums, etc.
The second phase, the liquid phase, is necessary when the steam cleaning has not removed all debris or chemical residue, and it may involve one or more of the following: degreasing, degassing, or acid cleaning. Here is quick look at each:
- Degreasing removes organic substances with medium- and high-molecular weight and muds. It is usually used in hydrocarbon processing units where the precipitation of asphaltenes, waxes, and coke particles may have caused fouling during the operation of the equipment. It is commonly used in CDUs, vacuum units, visbreakers, FCC slurry, storage tanks, etc.
Refinery storage tanks
- Degassing renders equipment gas-free, which allows workers to enter it for cleaning, maintenance, or inspection. The process removes light hydrocarbons such as benzene, toluene, xylene, light gasoline, etc., from the equipment. It also is used to remove hydrogen sulfide and inorganic volatile salts (i.e., ammonium salts).
Hydrogen sulfide is produced naturally from decaying organic matter and is used as a by-product in petroleum refining.
- Acid cleaning removes strong inorganic deposits such as carbonates and sulfates of calcium and magnesium. It is also used to completely remove iron sulfide deposits.
Acid cleaning is necessary in units or on equipment where maintenance activities will be conducted requiring flame cutting, welding, etc.
Pressure Washing as Part of Turnarounds
Pressure washing is another method that can be used as part of a refinery’s turnaround procedures. As we noted above, it can remove dirt, debris, and chemical build-up.
It is imperative to follow all directions for operating a pressure washer safely. Pressure washers should never be pointed at the body! The high-powered water stream can lacerate skin, damage eyes, burst eardrums, or cause death. Carbon monoxide poisoning or burns from the water are also possible. Gasoline, of course, is extremely flammable and can explode under certain conditions.
PPE for Pressure Washing
PPE should always be worn to maximize worker safety when using a pressure washer.
Our Hydroblast FRHBS100 full-body suit is definitely an option you should consider if your job includes pressure washing. This .35mm PVC/Polyester suit will keep you dry in high-pressure spraying applications. The jackets have attached hoods, drawstring bib pants, and a shroud that attaches to a face shield to give you maximum protection from splashing chemicals.
Closing up the FRHBS100
When it pertains to chemical testing, we know having testing data is important. When you’re dealing with hydrochloric acid, you don’t want to take any chances. Be sure to check out our permeation testing for Hydroblast, titled 200 series here.
The entire FRHBS100 suit
The 3902 and FRHBS100 both have a limited flammability rating. Within the oil and gas industry, companies prefer MCR Safety’s limited flammability suits rather than standard PVC suits, which are not treated and offer no flame protection.
Items that are considered to have “limited flammability” have been tested using test method ASTM D-6413 to observe the materials’ reaction to open flame. This is not a standard. These materials may melt and/or burn when in contact with flame, but will self-extinguish within a matter of seconds once the source of the flame is removed. By self-extinguishing, these materials help reduce the potential of further burn injury as compared to other rainwear that is not treated or considered to have “limited flammability”.
For even greater FR protection in a suit, consider wearing the Big Jake 2 rain jacket, rain coat and pants, which are made with Nomex®. Big Jake 2 flame resistant rainwear is Dual-Certified, meaning it conforms to ASTM F1891 for Arc and ASTM F2733 for protection against flames. Flash Fires are the biggest concern in the Oil and Gas industry, making ASTM F2733 an important specification.
Big Jake 2 jacket, coat and pants
The 101640SS face shield is made of quality PETG material and measures 10” x 15.5” with a .040” thickness. The 1” hook and loop strip on the bottom attaches to the protective shroud on both the FR2603 and the HBS100 suits shown above.
The 181640SS face shield is made of quality PETG material and measures 8” x 16” inches with a .040” thickness. The 1” hook and loop strip on the bottom attaches to the protective shroud on the FR2603, shown above.
The 104PF face shield is one of our newest products. It has an integrated single-piece molded clear face shield that has been coated with our MAX6™ premium anti-fog coating. MAX6™ provides six times greater anti-fog performance when compared to standard anti-fog lenses.
MCR Safety's Premium Double-Dipped PVC can be used when handling a number of chemicals. It is jersey-lined, nitrile-reinforced and is 18” long.
MCR Safety Ninja Alchemy provides both chemical and impact protection.
These boots are 16” tall and made from black PVC. They have a steel toe, cleated sole, and a polyester liner. These boots are an excellent choice for protecting your feet from dropped objects, spills, splashes, and they will keep you from slipping on wet surfaces.
MCR Safety PPE for Cleaning Refineries
We hope that we’ve shed some light into what PPE gear is needed for cleaning refineries. Our ultimate goal is to keep you safe and protected when facing harsh working conditions.
Do you have questions about MCR Safety’s oil industry PPE? Contact us! We’re happy to answer your questions and we’ll be happy to help you find the perfect PPE gear for your needs. For insight into all oil and gas sectors, be sure to check out our Oil and Gas Industry pages. Just click the image to learn more.
For over 40 years, MCR Safety has proven to be a world-leader in gloves, glasses, and garments. Whether it’s on a shop floor, an oil rig, or a construction site, we are there providing solutions to workplace hazards. We Protect People!
Learn more about MCR Safety by checking out our most recent video. For more information, browse our website, request a catalog, find a distributor, or give us a call at 800-955-6887.