The Pressure is On: Hire Qualified Staff For Turnaround Season

finding qualified staff for turnaround projects

During a turnaround at industrial facilities, the safety and health of workers becomes extremely important. Industrial facilities include oil and gas refineries, chemical plants, and power generation facilities.

Turnarounds are pre-planned maintenance projects. It involves taking a highly hazardous facility and bringing it offline for an extended period, often weeks or months. Maintaining processing equipment in top-notch condition is a requirement. 

Often, contractors and their workers hired by the facility owners perform equipment overhauling, cleaning, inspection, maintenance, replacement of equipment, and adjustments. 

According to a recent study, almost 50% of workplace accidents in manufacturing plants occur during a turnaround. The information comes from a study by TA Cook and Solomon Associates in 2019. Because of this, finding qualified staff for your turnaround projects is vital – especially your safety professionals.

Key Safety Elements to Consider When Finding Qualified Staff for Turnaround Projects


Turnarounds include bringing in additional workers. Additional workers such as contractors with a variety of disciplines. The disciplines include millwrights, pipe fitters, iron workers, and crane operators, to name a few. A fair percentage of the workforce has often never worked in a turnaround environment.

The workforce can double or triple during this time. This makes the work environment congested and allows many hazards to exist.

Heavy Machinery

Most turnarounds require heavy equipment like mobile cranes. Large mobile cranes assist in breaking down massive processing equipment for maintenance to occur. This causes the potential for overhead loads to strike exposed workers.

Large pieces of processing equipment handled by mobile cranes can significantly expose workers. 

Dangerous Noise

These turnarounds expose workers to elevated levels of dangerous noise. The OSHA standard for protecting workers from high noise exposure starts when the noise reaches 85 dbA during an eight-hour shift. Selecting the proper hearing protection devices with the help of a safety professional is the right thing to do. 

Excessive Temperatures

On top of the heat that comes with a turnaround in southern states, we also add to the potential for heat-related incidents. We add to the potential by wearing flame-retardant and resistant clothing.

Preparing a heat illness prevention plan is a high priority.

Addressing Hazards

One critical component of addressing hazardous conditions during turnarounds is the presence of a committed team of safety professionals. Safety professionals on-site play a crucial role in ensuring a safe turnaround environment.

Developing Risk Assessments

Having a safety professional who has knowledge and training in developing risk assessments is critical. Risk assessments in job safety, job hazards, and/or task hazards benefit all workers. Identifying hazardous conditions or worker actions before starting work and effectively communicating the required mitigation plans are the foundations of a safe workplace.

Training and Education

Keep workers informed and reduce confusion with effective training and education sessions from a team of qualified safety professionals. This skill will ensure that all workers, including contractors, receive proper safety training and education. 

Personal Protective Equipment

Selecting and using the correct personal protective equipment for the task at hand helps reduce potential exposure. Safety professionals on-site can assist with this selection and coaching process. Specifically if the workforce is working off the ground during a turnaround.

Personal fall arrest equipment requires training and education. Somebody can drastically improve the Anchor point selection, required by OSHA standards, with the assistance of a safety professional.

Confined Space Entry

Turnarounds require multiple entries into permit-required confined spaces. Confined spaces present a host of hazardous exposures. Hazardous exposures include oxygen deficiency, toxic airborne contaminants, and tight working spaces, to name a few. Communication challenges and the availability of rescue services add additional priorities to this type of work environment.

Even though OSHA has a permit that requires a confined space standard, most plant facilities exceed OSHA’s standards. Safety professionals can manage that potentially dangerous procedure to ensure maximum worker protection. Assess the atmosphere for toxic gasses, ensure proper ventilation, and have rescue procedures in place.

Hot Work 

The primary manufacturing process is offline in most turnarounds. Despite this, there are still plenty of opportunities for an incident involving fires and explosions. The management of hot work permits is crucial to prevent unwanted incidents.

Control of Hazardous Energy (Lock Out Tag Out)

Controlling the unexpected release of energy is another critical element during a plant turnaround. A crucial component of a good safety plan includes having a specific safety professional. The safety professional must have expertise in the necessity of lock-out and tag-out procedures.

Safety Professionals – The Backbone of Turnaround Staff

Having the expertise of safety professionals on-site during a plant turnaround can be beneficial in many ways. The professional’s assistance with adequate communication, expertise in coaching the workforce, and professional guidance are critical components to a safe and productive turnaround. Assistance includes emergency planning and conducting behavioral observations.

Safety is everyone’s responsibility, and a proactive approach ensures a successful and incident-free turnaround.

Let’s perform every turnaround with a commitment to ensuring every worker goes home with an injury or illness. Their family will thank you!

Don’t leave your safety staffing to chance. Partner with ResponsAble and take proactive steps to protect your employees, your operations, and your reputation. Together, we can build a safer and more successful future for your organization.

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