23 April 2007 19:40 [Source: ICIS news]
The US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) said in a statement that the American Petroleum Institute (API) should “revise its draft recommended practices for the use and sitting of trailers and other portable buildings in and around hazardous process areas in refineries and chemical plants”.
The institute, a major oil and refining trade group whose operational standards are widely followed in process industries, issued a proposed update to its guidelines for portable work shelters in the wake of the March 2005 accident at the BP Texas City, Texas refinery in which 15 workers were killed.
Most of those killed in the 2005 accident, the board noted, were in portable trailers located near hazardous process equipment when the explosion occurred. In light of those fatalities and their circumstances, the board had asked API to revise its guidelines on the safe placement and use of portable buildings.
The institute issued its revised safety guidelines in December last year.
“While we appreciate the response by API to our recommendations,” the board said, “we are concerned that their draft … does not effectively address the issue and would fall short of providing workers the safety they need when working in temporary facilities at petrochemical plants.”
For example, the board said that API’s draft guidelines revision “fails to establish minimum safe distances for trailers and similar structures from hazardous areas of process plants”.
The final API guideline, said the board, “should include a strong emphasis on reducing to a minimum the use of temporary structures as well as the number of personnel authorized to occupy them”. In addition, said the board, there should be strict limitations on the use of portable structures for any personnel during periods of increased risk, such as plant start-ups and shutdowns.
API spokesman John Bisney said the institute issued its revised safety guidelines in draft form specifically to encourage comment and observation by anyone in the industry or among the general public, including the CSB.
“We are certainly taking everyone’s views into account, including what the board said today,” Bisney said. “We welcome all input, as this helps guide us in getting a final rule.”
Bisney said he expects API will have a final version of the revised guidelines on portable structures within a couple of months.
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