I recently visited a gas plant in West Texas where we have been contracted to upgrade the control systems on five engine driven compressor units. Our meeting took place in the conference room of the plant with a site survey to follow. After our meeting, we were instructed to suit up in our PPE, which I carried, including steel toed boots from Ohio. We convened in the master control room to receive a safety presentation by the plant’s Safety Manager. We listened carefully to all the safety rules and hazards then grabbed our hard hats. Just as I was about to exit the Safety Manager told me that regrettably I could not go on the tour. Much to my dismay, the fact that I had a goatee caused a potential safety risk. The gas being processed had a high level of sulfur dioxide and the plant had gas masks located throughout the plant. The Safety Manager was concerned that my gas mask might not seal effectively in case of a H2S laden gas leak.
I pondered my situation, and tried to put a probability against a gas leak while I was in the plant. The non-negotiable corporate safety rules hit hard, but it lead me to think about plant and personnel safety. I rationalized that the corporation had spent a great deal of time and money developing safety standards. The policies would address awareness, procedures, training and execution.
I was caught in the execution step. The equipment we control is most often fuelled by natural gas. While inherently hazardous, the areas are only subject to the hazard during an abnormal situation. We design for the specific area classification as defined by the customer.
I asked our expert to provide a brief overview of hazardous work environments and how we design to accommodate the area classification. Continue reading about designing for hazardous areas.
What is a Hazardous Area?
Miklos “Mik” Dudevszky Director of Business Development