Process safety is critical to protecting our workers and communities
In simplest terms, process safety means that our pipes, tanks, processing units, valves and other hardware all work as intended – keeping hazardous substances where they belong, at the right temperatures and being handled the right way. Of course, for that to work, the controls we have in place must all function properly too – maintenance plans, equipment testing, alarms, monitoring systems and the procedures people use as they work with these components.
“There isn’t a single moment of any day or night that we aren’t focusing on process safety,” says Jim Nelson, MPC’s Refining Process Safety manager. “It’s absolutely fundamental – we construct, maintain and operate our facilities with the constant awareness that process safety events can have dire consequences.”
That awareness spurs a companywide commitment to share information about process safety events. Whenever process safety events take place at an MPC facility, a detailed investigation and analysis are conducted, and the results are shared throughout the company by publishing a Process Safety Advisory (PSA). “PSAs are part of our effort to ensure that all of our employees – from management to operators – are equipped with information that can help us avoid conditions that have led to process safety events in the past,” says Nelson.
This commitment to share process safety lessons is also a characteristic of our industry as a whole. As we produce the fuels and other refined products that make people’s lives better, refiners and petrochemical manufacturers want all workers to be safe, whether at our own companies or elsewhere in our industry. That’s why we – MPC and others – share process safety event findings with other companies through the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, an industry association.
Our strong, companywide emphasis on process safety protects employees, contractors and the communities where our facilities operate. We not only adhere to rigid standards to avoid process safety events, but we empower our employees to shut down operations, without having to check with a supervisor, when they feel there is a process safety risk. At our union and non-union plants, we investigate incidents – including near-misses – with teams of employees that include both hourly and salaried personnel.
“Whether it’s the safety of our people, the safety of communities or the integrity of our operations, process safety is one of the most critical aspects of Marathon Petroleum’s day-to-day work,” Nelson says. “I’m proud to work for a company that places such an emphasis on this, not just internally, but among our colleagues in the industry as well.”