An industrial power plant at sunset

Health and Safety at Power Plants

Health and Safety at Power Plants has minimized work place injuries over the last decade. Where Health and Safety were taboo and looked down on in a rugged industry, management now seeks to maximize safety of all personnel at each facility. Health and Safety has numerous aspects that make it important for day to day operations of any power generation facility. In order to create a safer work environment, management must ensure the culture surrounding Health and Safety supports safe work practices, and has shifted away from the old mentality of acceptance of rugged unsafe work practices. To achieve this, management must institute top down culture change, utilizing the some of the following ways to change the values surrounding Health and Safety.

The creation of employee led safety committees is a great way for management to help shift the culture toward acceptance of Health and Safety. These safety committees should meet monthly to discuss safety procedures, incidents and ongoing training that is or should be implemented at the facility. The end goal for the safety committee should be to continually evaluate in-place safety procedures and protocols.

The use of safety procedures and job hazard analysis (JHAs) are important for worker safety and another method that should be used to help shift the corporate values toward Health and Safety first. Before any work is started, JHA should be completed to identify hazards associated with the work. Safety procedures can then be written and designed to complete the work. Once a safety procedure and JHA have been conducted on a particular aspect of work, they can be re-used for similar future jobs. Over time, personnel will become accustomed to the use of JHAs and start to see their benefits, modifying their outlook on Health and Safety.

Safety equipment is another important aspect of Health and Safety at every facility. Providing up-to-date, clean, and industry appropriate safety equipment to plant personnel can help with cultural change. Management and plant operators should ensure everyone wears the minimum personal protective equipment (PPE) around the facility, as well as job specific safety equipment. Also, all personnel should be trained on maintaining safety equipment, and how maintaining it is as important as using the equipment. Damaged safety equipment should never be used and all PPE should be inspected before using it. Having plant personnel work as a team to ensure everyone is properly using and maintaining safety equipment is an important way to shift the facility culture toward acceptance of Health and Safety.

Contractor safety is another important aspect of overall Health and Safety at power generation facilities and ensuring contractors meet plant guidelines for health and safety not only serves to shift the culture at the plant, it serves to prevent damage or regression due to unsafe work practices by contractors. Contractors constantly visit the facility to perform specialized work. This work can range from confined space entry, hot work, and other specialty jobs. Having a contractor safety orientation to your facility is important to ensure overall plant safety as it will make them aware of what is expected of them and the hazards they may encounter. Contractors should adhere to all plant safety requirements that they may not be familiar with. Since contractors may visit facilities all over the place, it is important to orient them to the particular safety concerns and requirements that are specific to your facility.

When it comes to Health and Safety at any facility, it is important that the safety culture starts at the top with management, all the way down to field operators and mechanics. The worst-case scenario is a worker dying, but with heartache and worst case scenario aside, lost time accidents also result in shorthanded facilities which hurts productivity, profits and availability. A well thought out Health and Safety program, paired with a culture adopting Health and Safety, is important to any power generation facilities operations to save that time, money, and most importantly the lives of employees.