Daily Inspection i n a r Webinar: Employee Participation & Training

Engaging employees and providing them quality training is critical when it comes to minimizing risks and protecting both on-site and off-site personnel, property and the environment, which is why employee participation and training are required parts of the process safety management and risk management plan programs, said IIAR in the latest member webinar to be released by the Institute.

Tony Lundell, director of standards and safety at IIAR, hosted the webinar to help owners, designers, in-house refrigeration operators and technicians understand how to engage employees in participation, and what should be included in initial and ongoing training. “The implementation of an effective training program is one of the most important steps an employer can take,” he said.

Employers have a number of responsibilities, including developing a written employee participation program. This includes consulting with employees on the conduct and development of process safety analyses and providing employees with access to the PHAs as well as all the other information required by the PSM elements.

Employee participation is one element of process safety management. This includes gathering system and equipment data, becoming familiar with systems and equipment, and verifying upkeep and planned changes. Lundell said employees can develop ‘what if’ questions and verify recommended corrective actions. Employee participation provides an opportunity for employees to verify upkeep with planned changes, verify accuracy annually, and develop and adhere to other safe work practices.

Employees can also submit corrective work actions, create a maintenance plan, and craft a quality assurance program in which they verify and ensure maintenance materials, spare parts and equipment are suitable for the process application. Employees also should be able to fill out permits, perform permit work, facilitate others, verify and/or provide fire watch, and verify appropriate protective equipment, such as clothing, gloves, footwear, shields, blankets and fire extinguishers. “It is crucial they can verify if a fire extinguisher is filled with the proper chemical and it is ready to be used,” Lundell said.

During the webinar, Lundell explained that employee participation also relates to contractors. Employers can qualify candidates and do periodic field evaluations. “The employers need to ensure the safe work practices are being adhered to,” he said.

For a pre-startup safety review, employees should be involved. “They can document and complete each PSSR, perform the PSSR activity, facilitate others, ensure completeness, finalize each PSSR, verify if the startup can safely proceed and shortly after, review each startup for future improvement considerations to apply on the next one,” Lundell said.

Training is another element of PSM and it serves two general purposes: the employer gains a measure of assurance the employee can safely perform ammonia refrigeration work and employees can request improvements or develop more stringent safe work practices. “It establishes a method to communicate potential work concerns or emergency actions,” Lundell said.

During initial training, which applies to every employee, employees should receive an overview of the process and process standard operating procedures. “The training should also emphasize the specific safety and health hazards, emergency operations, shutdown procedures and other safe work practices applicable to the employee’s job task,” Lundell said. “If a new person comes on board or they change their assignment, they need to be trained.”

Anyone who comes onsite at a location, including employees providing incidental services, such as janitorial, vending or laundry services, needs orientation training to make them aware of potential hazards, Lundell said. “Can they explain the hazards with ammonia? Have they recently reviewed the safety data sheet? Do they know what to do if they smell ammonia? What if they smell smoke or see sparks? Are they aware of how safe work practices are used to avoid hazards?”

Employers are required to verify that the training has been completed and to ensure that it was understood, Lundell said. Training documentation includes the identification of the training, the employee name and some method of proving that the training delivered was understood. “The owner needs to designate someone responsible for meeting those elements,” he said.

Refresher training must be completed at least every three years, but employers can train more often if necessary. Together employees and employers can determine the appropriate frequency of refresher training. There are a number of IIAR publications and training materials that employers can utilize, including the new IIAR educational certificate program. “The goal of the certificate program is to provide end users with a method to demonstrate personnel are trained in IIAR standards and safety materials and provide contractors with a method to demonstrate qualifications to work on ammonia refrigeration systems,” Lundell said.

The implementation of an effective training program is one of the most important steps an employer can take. “Safe work practices should be clearly communicated and become the culture. That means avoid taking shortcuts,” Lundell said.

The IIAR Employee Participation and Training Webinar, along with other webinar education materials is available to IIAR members at www. iiar.org on the membership page.