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Process safety audits of water processing facilities

Client

A large water utility provider with more than 30 water-processing, filtration and wastewater treatment facilities spanning a large geographic region.

Challenge

The water utility wanted to gain a greater understanding of process safety across its plants. This would enable it to identify safety concerns and opportunities for improvement. Process safety is a critical issue for water utilities, as fires, explosions and accidental chemical releases can have catastrophic consequences on personnel, assets and the environment.

The client recognised that process safety audits would be the ideal way to identify gaps in their process safety systems and determine corrective actions to address these gaps. The audits also needed to uncover any systemic gaps that would require broader consideration.

The client specified three key process hazard areas of concern:

  • Explosion and fire
  • Pressure and vacuum systems
  • Hazardous and reactive chemicals.
Solution

The client sought assistance from independent process safety auditors through a competitive tender process. They selected Advitech’s process engineering team based on our extensive auditing experience, knowledge of standards and best industry practice, and ability to produce concise reports with practical and actionable recommendations. Advitech was chosen to audit 16 facilities plus facilitate risk assessments on the potential failure modes of operation.

We developed an audit plan and inspection checklist. The team inspected facilities ranging in size from small remote plants through to large permanently staffed effluent treatment and reuse facilities. To streamline the process, detailed site information was reviewed and audit plans were broken down for each of the three key hazard areas. A site inspection report was produced for each site, detailing safety gaps, risks, and recommended actions.

Advitech’s structured audit approach allowed time to examine process, maintenance and repair regimes, including the water utilities asset and maintenance information database. This collaborative approach and efficient audit process resulted in a more accurate identification of safety issues and best industry practices.

On completion of the process safety audits, Advitech produced an overview report that summarised:

  • Systemic gaps
  • Key findings and lessons learnt
  • Recommendations to address system issues
  • An implementation program incorporating priorities.

Through its efficient safety audit process, Advitech’s process engineers contributed to enhanced safety and improved maintenance efficiencies.

Outcome

The process safety gaps identified during the audit ranged from:

Simple fixes –
  • Drawings marked incorrectly
  • Equipment wrongly labelled
  • Assets missing from maintenance systems
To major items –
  • Unidentified gas hazardous areas
  • Unknown equipment relief pressures
  • Possible environmental issues arising from inadequate chemical storage.

Advitech’s collaboration with site personnel ensured a thorough understanding of corporate standards, site procedures and maintenance systems. This allowed the team to highlight examples of best industry practice, identify critical areas for improvement and recommend practical and actionable solutions.

Our recommendations and implementation program has provided management with a clear pathway to improve maintenance efficiencies and enhance process safety across the organisation.

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