One of the many unforeseen consequences of the global COVID-19 pandemic is the potential impact on chemical manufacturing facilities that have had to shut down operations for days or even weeks, and then restart their manufacturing processes.
According to the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, the majority of chemical facility incidents occur during facility startup. In the United States, for example, process safety incidents are five times more likely to occur during startup as compared to normal operations.
To address this, the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) developed a guidance document, “Be Smart: Safe Restart: Restarting Chemical Production Facilities Post COVID-19 Restrictions,” intended to prompt owners and operators of chemical production facilities to consider how the unique circumstances created by COVID-19 may have impacted their ability to restart safely.
The document highlights the importance for facility operators to conduct a pre-startup safety review, to reassess hazards that may exist due to any changes that occurred during the shutdown period. A pre-startup safety review can help companies evaluate additional impacts due to any complications associated with complete shutdown that might impact startup procedures of any or all processes.
While safe restart procedures will vary by company, and often involve great detail, the document outlines general elements that a company can include in its restart approach. While the information in the document is applicable to all types of facilities, ICCA seeks to specifically promote this information to small and medium-sized companies and facilities in developing nations.
ICCA is circulating “Be Smart: Safe Restart” to chemical manufacturing companies around the globe via their national chemical associations and is translating it into several languages, including English, Spanish, French, German, Hindi, Mandarin, Thai, Malay and Korean. The document is being posted to the ICCA website and the American Chemistry Council’s COVID-19 Resources website, and other national associations are encouraged to include it on their websites as well.
For more information, contact RCLG Secretariat Tara Henriksen, at Tara_Henriksen@americanchemistry.com.