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Safety boost in core operations with behaviour and tech advancements

June 5, 2023 2:03 pm

Safety boost in core operations with behaviour and tech advancements

By promoting collective responsibility for safety, power plant personnel can effectively identify and mitigate potential hazards, minimise human errors, and prevent accidents.

Safety is paramount in power plants, where the smooth operation and maintenance of complex machinery and systems are vital. To uphold safety standards, power plants are increasingly implementing a comprehensive approach that combines behavioural safety practices with the integration of technological advances.

Behavioural safety plays a crucial role in power plant operations by addressing human behaviours and their impact on safety. It involves creating a safety culture emphasising proactive measures, training, and adopting safe work practices. By promoting collective responsibility for safety, power plant personnel can effectively identify and mitigate potential hazards, minimise human errors, and prevent accidents.

Vinit Priyadarshi, Regional Client Account Manager for Black & Veatch’s O&M Solutions Portfolio in India & APAC, highlights the importance of safety in core operations and maintenance. Having firsthand involvement in these areas, he has unfortunately witnessed tragic incidents, primarily during the construction phase, although they are less frequent during the operation and maintenance (O&M) phase. It has been a disheartening experience to witness the loss of lives, amputations, and permanent damage to hearing or eyesight suffered by individuals due to accidents.

Behavioural safety: a foundation for preventing accidents
Regarding safety, it should not be treated as a mere choice but as a mandatory compliance that applies to everyone. A significant aspect of safety is closely tied to our behaviour, which is why the field of behavioural safety holds great importance. We may overlook unsafe situations at home or in an industrial setting, inadvertently putting ourselves and others at risk. Thankfully, technological advancements have significantly prevented or mitigated some of these incidents, as observed across various industries.

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Black & Veatch recently encountered a situation involving a utility company in India that we monitor. A minor hydrogen leakage was detected in the generators through remote monitoring applications. In large power stations, generators rely on hydrogen for cooling, and leakage can have catastrophic consequences if hydrogen and air mix in a particular concentration, posing an explosion hazard. Hydrogen leakages are common when issues arise, such as rising turbine temperatures or declining hydrogen pressures. However, it becomes hazardous if the hydrogen levels exceed a safe threshold.

Mitigating hazards in the oil and gas sector: over pressurisation challenge
Understanding the pattern of overpressurisation and utilising machine learning algorithms to predict pressure increases in real-time has proven invaluable in preventing hazardous incidents. Black & Veatch have encountered several case studies where failure to detect such issues in advance has had severe consequences. Behavioural safety comprises two important components.

This is where the role of predictive analytics technology becomes crucial. By employing sophisticated machine learning algorithms and analysing data, we can detect the onset of leakage early and promptly alert the plant maintenance team. In the scenario above, it was critical to identify the increasing leakage, which was far from ordinary, allowing the maintenance crew to take immediate action and address the problem promptly. Over-pressurisation of heat exchangers and piping systems poses significant challenges in numerous situations, particularly in the oil and gas sector.

Establishing a culture of safety: managerial responsibility
The first pertains to the systems and processes we have established to operate the motor system, which is in place in nearly every power station. These procedures have laid the foundation for most power stations in India. The second aspect revolves around what we refer to as the manager’s responsibility. Managers and leaders must remain vigilant in terms of safety and the overall upkeep of the facility. Typically, safety is driven from top to bottom, and while that is the norm, it can also be facilitated from bottom to top.

“As managers, we play a significant role in instilling the right behavioural elements throughout the organisation, particularly when it comes to operation and maintenance”, Vinit explains. The concept of a “watcher” highlights the importance of managerial responsibility in establishing a safe workplace. Vinit further emphasises the various hazardous applications we encounter. However, drones, augmented reality, and predictive analytics have proven instrumental in helping clients avoid unsafe situations. Machine learning software can also capture instances of operator negligence, providing valuable insights for training purposes.

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