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Learn to Accurately Assess Risk at Refineries

Written by Clint Mooney on February 19, 2018

Have you explored your company’s risk universe? For refineries, the risk universe - the long list of potential risks - tends to be enormous. Fire hazards, toxic chemicals, environmental threats, and potential for bodily harm are just a few of the issues in a vast array of risks.

When refineries don’t assess risks, or if they tend to minimize and ignore them, the results can be catastrophic. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board examined 15 major refinery disasters that happened over 19 years and concluded that all refineries should implement a 112-step safety plan. Yet a follow-up investigation found that most refineries implemented less than half of those steps.


Assessing and Monitoring

Implementation begins with risk assessment - a method of identifying hazards and analyzing what could happen if a disaster occurs. Assessment usually includes enumerating a long list of risks, sorting them by probability and impact, and making a plan to minimize hazards that lead to the worst outcomes.

Many refineries don’t do formal risk assessments because they feel too busy to tackle it, or aren’t convinced of the ROI. Facing a large universe of threats and a daunting list of potential outcomes, they simply continue day-to-day operation and hope for the best.

Other companies want to do risk assessments, but just don’t have a good method in place. Here are some basic methods for refinery assessments:

  • Hiring an outside consulting firm that specializes in refinery assessments
  • Hiring a consultant that may not be familiar with refineries, does expert assessments
  • Developing an in-house risk management team
  • Implementing a software solution, which may be paired with one of the methods above


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Tech-Powered Risk Management

Using a consultant or creating an in-house team are probably familiar concepts, but now there’s another way to assess and monitor refinery risks. Software systems, built for complex industries like the energy industry, offer a high-tech strategy.

To understand how it works, look at a solution like FirstHand by Zeteky. It’s a mobile app that allows refinery workers to upload information about hazards and errors, before threats get out of hand. FirstHand not only fosters fast reporting, but also builds a database of information along the way.

Using an app/dashboard setup like this, a refinery can easily see the warning signs of improper procedures, failing equipment, and other urgent issues. Assessment of risks is simplified, because the company constantly has reliable data to analyze.


Minimizing Risk

A digital solution allows refineries the flexibility to input all kinds of data and create benchmarks focused on safety. When hazards fall too far outside the acceptable range, it sets off an alert in the system.

This means that a refinery can examine all of the following rules and regulations, input them into the system, and constantly stay in full compliance:


The Bottom Line

Risk assessment is worthwhile for refineries. Whichever method is chosen, some assessment must be done to minimize wasted money, ecological damage, and threats to human life.

Zeteky’s FirstHand app offers a reliable solution at a reasonable cost. Connect with Zeteky today to see how FirstHand works in action.

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