A turnaround is a planned event where the entire process unit or refinery site is shut down for an extended period. Being offline allows for a thorough review of the facility, from top to bottom. Maintenance, repair, renewal of equipment, and implementation of upgrades allow refineries to operate at peak performance once complete.
Turnaround undertakings vary from simple maintenance operations on a standalone unit, through either modernization or upgrading activities, to major turnarounds affecting the entire refinery and requiring multi-year planning. Sometimes, however, shutting down a refinery is not a part of the plan. Unplanned shutdowns
are also a result of mechanical failures, power outages, and the impact of bad weather.
Hurricane Harvey dumped 27 trillion gallons of water over Texas. Reports from some Texas refineries indicate shutdowns lasted for over 9 months. It is important to remember that planning for safety measures occurs well before the storm hits.
Since the number of employees can swell to larger than usual levels during a refinery shutdown, a safety manager must be prepared well in advance. The further in advance, the more time available to remedy any unforeseen obstacles. A site can easily go from 800 employees to over 3,000 contractors and employees
during a turnaround event. Instead of scrambling to ensure that all safety procedures are ready once the turnaround process is underway, safety readiness must be in place well ahead of time and heightened levels of safety precaution practiced during the shutdown.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is a big part of keeping workers safe during turnaround season and in case of an unplanned shutdown. It protects the safety of oil and gas workers, who are frequently exposed to workplace hazards. We cover below all the common PPE workers need during refinery turnarounds.
A Typical Turnaround Schedule
A plant turnaround creates a cascade of effects across the entire refinery operation, so it requires careful planning and scheduling.
- Preparation of the turnaround
- Pre-turnaround work shutdown
- Turnaround execution
- Post-turnaround work
Each phase above presents different challenges and health risks for workers. One stage may involve a high presence of chemicals, where another stage may involve increased welding activities. Here are some of the activities that must be performed during turnarounds: abrasive blasting, catalyst removal, cutting/welding activities, insulation removal, pipe draining, repairs, and tank cleaning.
As any plant manager or safety manager knows, every deviation in the normal routine is a risk for other hazards. In addition, infrequent operations, like cleaning and flushing, only heighten the potential for injuries.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) highlights a planned schedule
for refinery outages and shutdowns. Keep in mind, each season’s unique weather brings challenges that influence this schedule.
As we highlight on MCR Safety’s Refinery Industry page
, the Gulf Coast region traditionally has planned outages in January and February. It’s peak season for refinery turnarounds in Texas!
Click here to see typical turnaround schedules for the Gulf Coast, East Coast, Midwest, and Rocky Mountain zones. With the right schedule, you can make a solid plan for shutdowns that supports the safety of your entire oil and gas enterprise.
Top Refinery Turnaround Hazards That Require PPE
Oil and gas refineries are dangerous places. One area of the refinery may be building a new platform, where another side may be paving a road. You never know what might unfold on any given day.
There are endless ways people can get hurt in the oil and gas industry, which means workers must always stay sharp and alert. Between 2000 and 2007, 823 oil and gas workers were killed on the job. MCR Safety offers body-wide protection that can safeguard against and help to eliminate workplace fatalities and injuries.
With proper safety management, hazards can be handled professionally so every worker operates safely. Here are some common oil and gas hazards
and the specific kinds of PPE you’ll need to manage them.
Refineries use a lot of chemicals when cleaning equipment. Arsenic, hydrogen sulfide, and polluted water are real concerns. Oil and Gas workers deserve only the best PPE!
FRHBS100 provides closures at the neck, wrists and ankles for a secure fit. It is also rated as having limited flammability resistance, according to ASTM D6413 testing.
Fire and explosions
BJ238JH and BJ238BP are inherently flame-resistant.
Dust and airborne particulate matter
Refineries create a lot of dust during turnaround season. Lined eyewear will keep it out of your eyes.
RP310PF provides a tight fit, sealing workers’ eyes from dust and flying particles.
Noise from machines and equipment
Refineries use noisy generators for electrical power during turnarounds. The new Checklite CL4 safety glasses
will help keep your earplugs close by with their innovative earplug-retaining technology.
- CL4 safety glasses with earplug-retaining technology
CL412 using their ear plugs as a lanyard.
Welding and cutting
Welding and cutting operations occur at almost all drilling, refinery, and servicing operation sites. Installing and removing equipment during turnarounds requires welding gear. Another example of welding operations includes steel fabricators producing pipelines and hollow sections, in addition to welding platforms, beams, and girders.
4300 is one of MCR Safety’s most popular-selling welding gloves.
Dropped and falling objects
Many objects pose a threat during maintenance on refineries, potentially causing serious injury to refinery workers. You are going to need steel-toed boots working around the presence of water, chemical hazards, and dropped impact hazards.
Steel-toed boots are a requirement across all refineries.
Crushing and caught between injuries
MC503 offers cut and impact protection
Workers transport many materials during refinery turnarounds. These transportation tasks require heavy-duty gloves!
36136HP offers users impact-protection and ANSI A5 cut-protection in comfortable-to-wear leather”
Cuts and lacerations make up 7%
of all oil and gas injury claims. You’ll need some safety gear that protects you from lacerations.
The 9178NFO is a refinery favorite for protection against sharp objects.
Chemical, liquid, and oil handling
Working around acids, additives, corrosives, solvents, and wastewater puts refinery workers in direct contact with toxic substances, such as citric and HCI acids, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, benzene, and hydrogen fluoride. Be sure to check out our chemical permeation database to find the best protection options based on the chemicals you handle.
MCR Safety PPE / Safety Gear for Refinery Hazards
MCR Safety is one of the oil and gas industry’s most trusted companies for PPE and safety gear. We hope by providing the above information you're a better prepared for the safety gear required during turnarounds. We want all refinery workers to be protected with the best safety gear, whether it’s during busy turnaround seasons or during normal, day-to-day operations. Our purpose for being in business is to protect workers; that’s why the motto driving our company is We Protect People.
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 protective 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!