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CSB, Chlorine Institute call for regular assessments of preventive maintenance plans

oil gas refinery
Photo: lagereek/iStockphoto

Washington — Chemical facility owners and operators should assess their preventive maintenance programs routinely and seek out assistance from industry groups, the Chemical Safety Board and the Chlorine Institute advise in a joint statement released Feb. 20.

CSB Chair Vanessa A. Sutherland and Chlorine Institute President Frank Reiner are urging facility owners and operators not to let “the pressure of everyday operations and short-term budgeting concerns” overshadow the need for constant improvement of preventive maintenance programs, especially as new technology is implemented.

“Preventive maintenance is neither an option nor a luxury – it is one of the most important elements of safety in the chemical sector,” Sutherland and Reiner say in the statement, which highlights three incidents in which CSB investigators determined that insufficient preventive maintenance plans were a causal factor. In one case, a refinery industry practice proved inadequate at predicting high-temperature hydrogen attacks, which can lead to steel equipment failure in certain conditions.

“To be effective, facility owners, operators and employees must put time and resources into developing and executing preventive maintenance programs,” the statement reads. “Yet merely sticking to a plan, however necessary, is insufficient in light of the changing nature of the industry and the workplace.”

The statement calls for facility owners and operators to seek out both general resources and those specific to their operations. It also points out the work of the Chlorine Institute, which “regularly updates its written guidance for chlorine producers and users by working with its member companies to determine best practices and contracting external scientific expertise.”

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