Safety Case Study and Hazard Analysis
Huntsman Chemical Corporation Australia, Sydney NSW 2036 is a chemical engineering plant that manufactures basic products for many vital industries like detergent, agriculture, automotive, mining, textiles, personal care, and chemicals. Some common product groups include cleaning products, brake fluids and radiator coolants (Huntsman 2010).
Scope and context of the safety case
This paper will deal with some of the possible risks a chemical manufacturing plant may pose with regard to occupational hazards and what safety and regulatory measures need to be undertaken to ensure safety to its employees and the environment. This analysis has been conducted as part of my research on environmental studies and will focus on risk management for Huntsman Australia Pty Ltd.
A brief description of the site and processes
Huntsman Corp Australia Pty Ltd is a chemical manufacturing site involved with productions of polystyrene and benzene. The location of the site is in Sydney, New South Wales. As is evident from the map given, the environment of the processing units can be stated to be of residential nature. Therefore, one would like to seek justification of the growth of residential quarters in and around the same area as the factories where tons of chemicals are manufactured throughout the year.
Among the processes carried out in the premises are manufacture of certain chemicals like amines, resin epoxides, certain carbonates that are considered to be efficient in lowering the amounts of contaminants by increasing efficiency of the reactions and therefore, cutting down on side reactions. (Huntsman 2010)
Certain details that need to be checked for any lapses in maintaining a hygienic and pollution free environment are manual handling of chemicals by employees, regular inspection of raw materials, processes and products, training of workers, emergency regulations and disaster management.
A preliminary hazard analysis including Identification and Assessment of Risk
Major Hazard Facilities (MHF) deal with numerous substances that may prove dangerous and pose a health risk to employees. The areas that have the potential of high risk are toxic gas leakages that may be carcinogenic and explosive, emission of toxic effluents through pipelines, and exposure of workers to these highly reactive chemicals. Safe dumping of chemical wastes is another concern that needs to be frequently inspected and the system needs to be upgraded from time to time. The following example of gas leakage within the premises of Huntsman Corporation, on 28 October, 2009 when 700 kg of ethylene oxide was detected to have been emitted (Smith 2009). A major disaster was averted as the machinery malfunction was detected early. The highly explosive materials that are manufactured and stored in these sites also necessitate vigorous fire-fighting skills, equipment and readiness. If these safety measures are not put in place, not only are the lives of the employees jeopardized but also the entire residential locality around the chemical plant is at risk as is the environment.
Proposed Controls including Security and Emergency Arrangements
Huntsman Stewardship Standard (Huntsman Brochure n.d.) discusses environment, health and safety issues throughout the processes of manufacturing the chemical substances, which take into account, how the raw materials are brought in, the methods of handling these substances, their storage as well as packaging of the final product. Recycling is a widely followed policy and helps to minimize waste. The team of experts serves as auditors as well as trainers. They do research and come up with new standards in keeping with global norms.
All MHF are required to function within a set of rules established by licensing bodies such as WorkSafe that grants licenses to organizations after inspecting the process units. This requires the cooperation and inputs from the workers and employees.
The Huntsman facility has a Safety Management System that uses developed risk management strategies to prevent major accidents and health hazards. (De Luca 2004)
Monitoring some of the controls that include the performance standards and indicators, the auditing of management systems, accountability and engaging the employees in assessing the risks involved and suggest preventive remedies (Quake 2008). The operators must have appropriate supervisory strategies and regular audits to test the readiness of these remedial activities.
A justification of why these controls are adequate
These safety control measures are audited by WorkSafe which is a premier licensing agency that conduct frequent inspections and the operators have to develop plans in accordance with WorkSafe’s guidelines. All control devices have to function correctly, minimizing process upsets and investing them to avoid recurrences. Auditors conduct regular odour inspections to identify emissions that may not be detected otherwise and a detection program to repair and eliminate emissions. Encouraging people in residential areas to notify and report instances of odour from the sites. (In-Site 2004)
Controls for improving environment include ground water monitoring, soil quality monitoring, minimizing waste, reducing odour by preventing gas leakage and eliminating spills and leakages and controlling air emissions. This involves liaising with the residents of the locality and seeking their co-operation in detecting any pollution early. There is an environment improvement plan in place, EIP-3 since May 2003 (Bentley 2003). A program has been launched called The Safety-Mate Program which trains and engages employee and local residents’ involvement in early detection and prevention of major accidents.
The “Critical Behaviour Inventory” (Bentley 2003) tracks employee behaviours to prevent any incidents by observing the body position, eye- hand coordination, manual treatment during the manufacturing, packaging, storing and transporting processes and reporting of any untoward incidents.
Justification of these measures in preventing accidents and damage that involve humans and material is apparent. Operators need to comply with the stringent laws of WorkSafe and help prevent any damage to life or property. The workers are continually exposed to these dangerous chemicals and need to be protected.
Other Issues that may have an impact on the safety case
There are safety rules that apply to companies dealing with dangerous substances. These rules aim to introduce and promote improvements in the safety and health of employees. Environmental pollution needs to be kept under control. Emergency plans like evacuation, fire safety departments and disaster management experts need to be in constant readiness so that in case of a malfunction, the damage can be minimized and people’s lives can be saved.
This study draws attention towards the nature of hazards that employees, local residents and the environment is exposed to during the manufacturing process of highly reactive chemical materials. Suggestions for prevention and emergency plans have been included so that the safety case study not only tracks but also recommends improvements in trying to safeguard the health of workers and keep the environment free of pollution.
Bentley, John, 2003, HSE Progress Report. Viewed 30 May 2010
De Luca, Bruno, 2004, Preventing Major Chemical Incidents. InSite, Issue 14 November 2004, viewed 30 May 2010. http://www.huntsman.com/base_chemicals/Media/InSite_Nov04.pdf
Huntsman, 2010, Botany, viewed 30 May 2010. http://www.huntsman.com/performance_products/eng/Home/Locations/Production_and_manufacture/Botany/index.cfm?PageID=5308
Huntsman Material Safety Data Sheet, 1995, viewed 30 May 2010. http://www.dionchemicals.com/verve/_resources/MSDS_Acetone.pdf
Papadakis, G.A.& Amendola.A,1997, Safety Report Guidance – Seveso II, viewed 30 May 2010. http://mahbsrv.jrc.it/NewProducts-SafetyReport.html
Stolle, Russ, 2009, Huntsman News, viewed 30 May 2010. http://www.huntsman.com/eng/News/News/index.cfm?PageID=7379
Quake, Owen, 2008, Developing and Maintaining a Safety Case Regime, viewed 30 May 2010. http://www.safework.sa.gov.au/uploaded_files/mhf_quake.pdf
Smith, Leesa, 2009, Toxic gas leak from Huntsman plant, TrueLocal News, viewed 30 May 2010. http://southern-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/toxic-gas-leak-from-huntsman-plant/InSite, 2004, Remaining Vigilant on Odours, viewed 30 May 2010. http://www.huntsman.com/base_chemicals/Media/InSite_Nov04.pdf