The Shutdown Manager’s Pre-Shutdown Checklist

Plant Shutdown

By Michael H. Bos - New Standard Institute, Inc.

"The devil's in the details" goes the old saw, meaning that if one doesn't pay attention to the details, it is the details that will get you. This adage surely has application in outage or shutdown planning as unforeseen problems become the situations that cause unnecessary delays, extension of critical jobs, or an outright stoppage of all work.

The following items should be on every Shutdown Manager's checklist. They consist of situations common to almost any shutdown and each should receive at least some attention when planning for, and dealing with, the logistics of a large shutdown. Adherence to these details just might eliminate some "devils" in your next shutdown.


Employing Barricades

Barricades should be considered to restrict the movement into, or presence of personnel in restricted areas. The barricades can consist simply of "barricade tape," or may be as formal as individuals posted as sentries for any of the following situations:

  • To limit entrance to, or egress from, any particular area of the plant or facility for safety reasons.
  • To define travel corridors for contractors to and from their parking lot and break areas, into their work area within the site.
  • To protect all personnel from hazardous areas or to minimize access to such areas, and to limit "right to know" training for all temporary personnel.

Building Permits for Modifications or New Construction

New construction or major improvements made during a shutdown may require permitting in some locales. Ensuring such legalities are covered in advance of the actual work could eliminate unnecessary and time-consuming delays.

Contractors' Insurance Certificates

Most companies require minimum liability protection as well as proof of worker's insurance coverage for on-site contractors or other outside services. Most contracting firms obtain this insurance coverage only for the time period needed. The presence of a contractor in your plant earlier in the year does not imply that any coverage he obtained for that job is still active. Additionally, if a shutdown extends beyond an earlier expected completion date, insurance coverage that was obtained for the original time period must be extended by the contractor or it will become invalid. A file should be maintained for such certificates to minimize third party litigation in the event of injuries, deaths, or major damage

Dust Control

The extra activity during a large shutdown can also be the source of excessive dust, as unpaved areas are often utilized as parking, staging, or even fabrication areas. Contracting a water truck service to regularly dampen the areas can keep this problem in check, as well as improve relations with temporary personnel and the quality of work they provide. Providing a temporary wash down site for automobiles and trucks is also recommended.

Emergency Showers and Eye Baths

Extra emergency showers and eyebaths should always be considered when the number of working personnel increases. These units are available on a rental basis with pressurized and temperature-regulated water supplies. The rental company can also be contracted to provide regular, documented inspection and testing. Request copies of such inspections for your own records.

Flag Person or Traffic Control

Services or individuals to control traffic or personnel flow should be investigated for large shutdowns. Consideration should be given to covering the following situations:

  • Exit to and from temporary parking areas onto local streets before, during and after shift changes.
  • Traffic control at heavily traveled or centrally located intersections within the plant or facility.
  • Special occasions for the movement of heavy machinery, cranes, arrivals of large shipments or any extraordinary circumstance.

Liquid and Solid Waste Handling

Liquid waste from certain cleaning operations may not qualify for handling within the in-plant industrial sewer. These materials need to be identified ahead of time for proper handling. If such handling is to be the responsibility of a vendor or contractor, review in detail their method of spill control, containment and disposal. As with liquid wastes, potential handling problems can exist for solid wastes, especially when hazardous classifications are involved.

Noise Control

Some shutdown operations and equipment precomissioning steps may generate noise levels that are excessive. These operations need to be identified ahead of time so proper barricading or posting can be done.

Damage Repairs to Plant Property

All contracts with outside vendors and contractors should include repair clauses for damage to property fences, temporary facilities set up for such personnel, or other plant properties or facilities used by temporary workers.

Pavement Repairs

Potential damage to pavement areas should be discussed with heavy equipment contractors ahead of time. If load-bearing capacity is unknown, plant roadways should be tested. Contractors should be advised of areas where damage is probable and kept from movement in such areas. Contract language should hold heavy equipment contractors liable for damage.

Scaffolding Control

If several scaffold contractors or rental agencies are to be used at the same time, require that each identify their own scaffolding so that it cannot be confused. Requiring a different color from each supplier will help to keep it identifiable. During a shutdown, scaffold is often moved from site to site, and the probability of the mixing of scaffold from different sources is fairly high. At the end of the shutdown, each supplier will probably submit a claim for "lost" scaffolding. It is much harder to support such claims when the scaffolding is identifiable for each vendor.

Supervisory Coverage (dark shifts and weekends)

There should always be a "company representative" any time temporary personnel (not employees) are in the plant. This individual is responsible for adherence to safety rules and to represent the company in the event of an injury or incident.

Temporary Buildings and Enclosures

Temporary buildings and enclosures are often the direct responsibility and cost of vendors and contractors. It is advisable to review with the contractor(s) the following areas of coverage:

  • Temporary cafeteria or eating facility. Ensure that some provision is made, including vending equipment. Work through the logistics of restocking vending equipment, i.e. when it will be done, which supplier will be used, etc.
  • Temporary First Aid. Large contractors should provide their own licensed EMT or First Aid Technician along with a facility for primary care. Require written notification from your contractors any time the contractor's employees require such services.
  • Temporary Lighting. Temporary parking areas used during 24-hour shutdowns should be provided with adequate lighting.
  • Temporary Showers and Change Rooms. Some shutdown work may necessitate the need for "clean" and "dirty" change rooms and shower facilities. The need for, and provision of, such services should be determined and administered before the shutdown begins.
  • Temporary Storage. Storage for material, tools and equipment should be the responsibility of the vendor or contractor. Security for such storage, and liability if theft or damage occurs, should be determined before any material, tools or equipment comes on site.
  • Temporary Telephones. Temporary telephones should be brought into the plant. These should be located in the normal temporary break areas. It is the responsibility of the vendor or contractor to ensure that abuse of this equipment does not occur.
  • Temporary Toilets and Water. Portable toilets and potable water stations should be brought into the temporary structure area. If these facilities are to be staged within the plant or facility proper, it is advisable to arrange ahead of time how and when they will be serviced.
  • Temporary Power. If an unusually large contracted work force is expected, the utilities to such a camp town may tax existing capacity. Identifying the potential need and providing a temporary source from the local utility is advisable.

Gang Locks and Shift Locks

OHSA regulations allow the use of gang locks and shift locks as long as adequate procedures and controls are in place to ensure that such locking devices provide the necessary protection of personnel. It is strongly advised that lockout procedures be reviewed ahead of time, especially where large numbers of workers are involved, or many different outside companies are on site at one time.

Refueling of Mobile Equipment

An extended shutdown will inevitably require the refueling of mobile equipment owned or rented, and operated by contractors working in the plant. If each is responsible for the refueling of their own equipment, the plant will be deluged with a variety of fuel suppliers trying to gain access to the plant many times during the week. It is advisable to make arrangements in advance with one fuel supplier to be the source for all contracted equipment within the plant, and require that contractors deal with this supplier only.

Crowd Control

Obtaining an accurate accounting of all outside personnel admitted into a plant on a large shutdown is a challenge. When employees are required to sign in and out at a check point location, it creates a bottleneck at change of shift. Sign-in sheets can also be inaccurate as some employees may sign in other's names.

Today, programmable magnetic cards and portable readers greatly speed up the entry and exit process and help ensure accurate crowd control. A magnetic card can be programmed with an employee's name and company as well as other pertinent information. When the card is swiped through the reader, it notes the exact date and time with the card information. The information is then periodically downloaded into a computer where it can be sorted and used to verify contractor’s employees. These systems are invaluable as a check against contractor’s invoices on time and material jobs.

The forgoing items are just a beginning list for a Shutdown Manager. The list itself is the result of past experiences of many shutdown managers and planners, some of whom experienced problems caused by neglecting to take precautions. It is hoped that this list will help ensure that similar problems don't happen to you.

Article courtesy of New Standard Institute, Inc. (203-783-1582)

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