Safety Considerations In Process Plant Design And Operation

Accessibility and Security

Process plant design and operation should consider several factors and among the key factors to be considered is the safety and safety in the establishment and operation of a process plant.  Safety in process plant design and operation covers a wide range of knowledge and possibilities that have to be considered to prevent or mitigate any hazards in the process plant. This essay is a discussion of the various safety areas that have to be considered and it outlines the questions to be answered in the preceding process plant design and operations. These questions play a very critical role in ensuring that the final process plant design and operation covers all the issue of concern. The process plant design and operation safety should consider a wide area of view and consider all the probabilities so as to come up with the most appropriate measures to minimize or eliminate the all the possible risks.

Save Time On Research and Writing
Hire a Pro to Write You a 100% Plagiarism-Free Paper.
Get My Paper

 The general accessibility to the process plant and the operation is a very important safety aspect that should be considered. Is the process plant and operation restricted from any unauthorized personnel? The process plant should be well protected from the public and any other bystanders. The operation should also be accessible only to the authorized personnel within an organization. This will prevent accidents that may arise from untrained personnel handling the operation or people with malicious intentions accessing the process plant.  What are the controls going to be put in place to ensure that the process plant and operation is secured from unauthorized personnel? The controls should ensure that only those authorized to access a given area are permitted so as to avoid any accidents and hazards as well as maintain the confidentiality of the process plant and operation (King, 2016).  Are the people on site organized and managed well? The personnel on site should be well managed such that there is no confusion in the movement that can possibly threaten the safety of the people on site as well as the general public.

 Fire is among the most common risk across a wide range of process plants and operations. Therefore fire safety and management is a very crucial area in process plant design and operation since this risk has to be avoided as much as possible. Are there enough and operational alarms to alert people in the event of a fire break up? The alarms and detectors can really help save lives as well as the damage caused during a fire break up in a process plant. The fire can be caused by several factors such as electrical failure, wrong handling of the raw materials in process plant which may be flammable as well as carelessness from the operators on site. What are the most likely areas or sections where fire can easily start? Identifying these areas helps in creating awareness and extra caution for the operators. What are the likely consequences if a fire breaks up? The damages and loss that can be caused by a fire breakup should be considered to ensure that the appropriate priority is considered in the process of formulating the final process plant design and operation, (Rathnayaka, Khan & Amyotte, 2014). What controls have been put in place to prevent any fire? The process plant design has to have sufficient control measures that eliminate the risk of fire break up in the process plant.

Fire Safety and Management

 In a process plan and operation, there is always waste products that must be handled well to prevent them from becoming hazardous. Is there an effective and efficient waste management system in the process plant and operation? An effective and efficient waste management system is very essential in the process plant in order to prevent so many risks, (Qasim, 2017). Some of the waste materials may be toxic and therefore there must be proper waste handling procedures for such waste materials. Even the nonhazardous waste materials have to be managed well to prevent environmental pollution and wastage of space, therefore, we should consider what is the best possible way to dispose the waste and where should the disposal sites be located. Are the personnel in charge of waste disposal well trained and equipped with the appropriate equipment and gadgets? When the staff mandated with the various waste management are well trained and equipped then the waste produced in the process will be disposed off properly. The waste material may contaminate the raw materials if not well handled and this may have a very negative effect on the final products. If the waste is not well handled it can affect the staff in the process plant and cause very tragic health complications.

In the event of a disaster, how well is process plant and operation designed to handle the disaster? Disasters can be caused by human activities such as fires and terrorist attacks but they can also be natural such as harsh weather conditions and earthquakes. Are there enough mechanisms put in place to handle disasters of varying magnitude? The process plant design and operation should be designed in such a way that in the event of a disaster the situation can be handled to reduce the damage and the loss of life. Is the on-site staff well trained to deal with disasters? No one wants disasters to happen but in the real world accidents and natural disasters happen therefore if the staff are well trained and equipped to handle such disasters then the effects of disasters can be minimized drastically, (Leveson & Stephanopoulos, 2014). Is there sufficient emergency equipment to handle disasters? These may include first aid kits to offer support to disaster victims before they are taken to the hospital. How close is the plant from outside help? If the process plant is situated in remote areas with poor transport and communication network then in the event of a disaster a lot of damage and loss of life is going to be witnessed. The proximity of key help stations such as hospital, police and fire station should be considered in the process plant design.

Save Time On Research and Writing
Hire a Pro to Write You a 100% Plagiarism-Free Paper.
Get My Paper

Waste Management

 Process plants require electricity in order to run the various machine and equipment involved in the operation. However, electricity can be very fatal if the not well handled. Electrical faults in some of the equipment can easily lead to a fire break up in the plant and cause a lot of damages and loss of life. The process plant equipment may mostly draw very high current and a very slight disruption to current flaw can be catastrophic. How is the process plant designed to prevent electrical faults from happening? Measures have to be put in place considering the specific plant electrical equipment and components to ensure that electrical faults do not arise. Are the employees well trained to handle the electrical machinery and equipment? The machinery and equipment are very sensitive to electrical disruptions and therefore the operators on site should be well trained to ensure that they run smoothly according to the equipment specifications. The operators on site should also be provided with the appropriate equipment and protection gadgets such as insulation gloves to protect them from electrocution. Are there machine and process control equipment installed to prevent electrical faults? Having operational and efficient machine and process control equipment can extremely reduce the risks of electrical faults in the process plant. The control equipment should be designed such that it detects electrical faults very fast and isolates the faulty part of the system very fast before causing unnecessary damage. The control systems should be checked and maintained regularly to ensure that the process plant is always protected from electrical faults.

  Whenever there is a failure from the power supply there is a high risk of electrical faults and this can be very fatal especially for the equipment and machinery that draw considerably large currents and voltages from the power system. How is the process plant design and operation protected from power supply failure? The process plant should be designed such that a failure in the power supply does not cause damage to the process and operation of the plant. This may be done through several mechanisms such as using circuit breakers and isolators to isolate the process plant from the power supply in the event of a supply failure. The shutdown and restart of the machines and equipment in a process plant can cause electrical disruptions that may lead to electrical faults and damages thus it is important to consider how the shutdown and restarts take place.  How sensitive are the machine and equipment to a power failure? There should be efficient protective devices that protect the equipment to reduce their sensitivity to a power failure in the plant. The machine operators have to be trained and be qualified for them to operate the machinery carefully to avoid any accident that may cause damage, injuries or loss of life.

Disaster Management

Plant construction is highly related to the risks that may arise in process plant design and operation.  What materials have been used to construct the process plant? Are the materials flammable or reactive to chemicals? The selection of the materials used in the construction of the process plant should be done carefully considering their chemical and physical properties. Some materials can be corroded easily by the chemicals involved in the process and operation and cause damage to the operators, the plant and even the general public. The type of process and operation the plant is intended for will highly determine the appropriate materials to be used in the construction, (Villa & Cozzani, 2016). For instance, a plant that is handling acids will require materials that are strong, less corrosive and not reactive to the acids. Is the layout of the process plant well suited for the operation process involved? The layout of the plant is an important design aspect that has to be done carefully considering several factors such as the ventilation, movement of materials, entry and exit among many more.

The plant layout should consider the ventilation and spacing between stage in the plant, (Ejeh and Papageorgiou, 2018). A poorly ventilated layout can cause congestion that may increase the risk of accidents and fire break up in the plant. Is emergency access provided in the layout? The layout should consider that there may be emergencies in the plant and thus there should be an emergency access point situated at appropriate points. Does the layout design of the process plant provide access to machinery and equipment? Maintenance is very important for smooth operation of the process plant.  The layout should allow for the maintenance of the machinery in the event of failure or routine maintenance. This reduces the risk of the machine causing damage or the maintenance staff getting injuries in the process of maintenance.

 Energy efficiency management is a very important factor to be considered in process plant design and operation.  Energy efficiency involves proper utilization of energy without or with very minimal energy losses. Is the process plant design and operation conserving energy? Energy should not be wasted in the system since this will increase the operation cost and interfere with profit maximization, (El-Halwagi, 2017). Energy in the process plant may include electrical and heat energy involved in the operation process and this should be utilized efficiently. The system should be designed to withdraw the minimum energy and also the energy should not be lost easily through leakages or faults. Have measures been put in place to improve energy efficiency? The process plant design and operation should be designed such that all the loopholes that contribute to waste of energy should be identified and control mechanisms introduced.

Electrical Safety

The environment refers to both the internal and external surrounding of the process plant design and operation, (De Rademaeker and Fabiano, 2014). This covers a very wide range of factors such as bunds, fences, warning signs, weather protection of operators, drainage, proximity of the process plant to public areas, safety of the operators, working within harmful environments ,working at heights or depths, process plant emissions, the plant waste products and there consequences among many more factors. All these environmental factors have to be considered to ensure that the safety risks associated with them are eliminated or minimized to negligible levels.

The individual operator safety is very important. Is the process plant design and operation designed such that the operators are safe? Are they exposed to any harmful materials or processes? This should be considered in order to ensure that the operators are not exposed to harmful materials that can negatively affect their health or even cause death. The working environment such as the depth and the height should be considered since these conditions present so many risks to the operator in the plant (Khan, Rathnayaka & Ahmed, 2015). Is the operator provided with the appropriate protective gadgets and equipment to operate in harmful environments? These environments may be dusty, very hot or cold and the operator has to be safe by being provided with the appropriate protective gear. How is the operator protected from adverse weather conditions? The plant operators should be protected from extreme weather conditions such as rain or strong winds, (Flin, R., & O’Connor, 2017). The drainage system in the plant should allow rainwater and waste to be disposed off properly to avoid flooding or contamination.

 The plant emissions, odours and by-products can pose a health risk by polluting the surrounding environment. How well are the emissions from the process plant managed? The waste products from the process plant have to be safe before they are released to the damping sites. The gases and fumes from the plant should also be treated to avoid air pollution which may affect the plants and animals in the surrounding environment. How close is the plant from public areas such as residential homes, public parks or conservation parks? The plant should be located at considerable distance from the public to reduce the magnitude of damage in the event of a safety breach in the process plant.

  How well is the process plant secured from the public? The fences and bounds should be strong to ensure that only the authorized people can access the process plant and operation. Are there warning signs within and outside the plant? These signs are very important to caution the operators within the plant and the general public from accessing certain areas that are risky. The process plant design should be designed such that in the case of an emergency evacuation can be done smoothly to save lives and reduce the damage.


In process plant design and operation, safety is among the most crucial factors to be considered. The questions discussed above can be used as a checklist which can be applied to any project, plant or workplace to both ask relevant questions as well as stimulate further relevant questions which enable a thorough examination of as many potential hazards and risks which may be applicable. There so many potential safety risks in process plant design and operation and all these have to be looked into for designing an effective and efficient process plant.  


De Rademaeker, E., Suter, G., Pasman, H. J., & Fabiano, B. (2014). A review of the past, present and future of the European loss prevention and safety promotion in the process industries. Process Safety and Environmental Protection, 92(4), 280-291.

Ejeh, J. O., Liu, S., Chalchooghi, M. M., & Papageorgiou, L. G. (2018). Optimization-Based Approach for Process Plant Layout. Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, 57(31), 10482-10490.

El-Halwagi, M. M. (2017). Sustainable design through process integration: fundamentals and applications to industrial pollution prevention, resource conservation, and profitability enhancement. Butterworth-Heinemann.

Flin, R., & O’Connor, P. (2017). Safety at the sharp end: a guide to non-technical skills. CRC Press.

Khan, F., Rathnayaka, S., & Ahmed, S. (2015). Methods and models in process safety and risk management: Past, present and future. Process Safety and Environmental Protection, 98, 116-147.

King, R. (2016). Safety in the process industries. Elsevier.

Leveson, N. G., & Stephanopoulos, G. (2014). A system?theoretic, control?inspired view and approach to process safety. AIChE Journal, 60(1), 2-14.

Qasim, S. R. (2017). Wastewater treatment plants: planning, design, and operation. Routledge.

Rathnayaka, S., Khan, F., & Amyotte, P. (2014). Risk-based process plant design considering inherent safety. Safety science, 70, 438-464.

Villa, V., Paltrinieri, N., Khan, F., & Cozzani, V. (2016). Towards dynamic risk analysis: A review of the risk assessment approach and its limitations in the chemical process industry. Safety science, 89, 77-93.