Program Ranks Musculoskeletal Risk of Operating Valves in Process Industries
- Adam Wilson (JPT Special Publications Editor)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- August 2014
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 126 - 132
- 2014. Society of Petroleum Engineers
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- 44 since 2007
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This article, written by Special Publications Editor Adam Wilson, contains highlights of paper SPE 165690, "A Method for Ranking the Musculoskeletal Risk of Operating Valves in Process Industries," by Dennis A. Attwood, Human Factors Applications, and Alicia T. Tys, Marathon, prepared for the 2013 SPE Eastern Regional Meeting, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, 20-22 August. The paper has not been peer reviewed.
Every process plant presents a high number and diversity of valves that control the flow of feedstock, products, and service liquids and gases. A comprehensive program was developed for a major US refinery to assess the musculoskeletal risk associated with manually operated valves then to rank each valve according to the risk each poses to plant operators and maintenance technicians. Valve repair and replacement is expensive, so the cost-effective approach was to assess only those valves that are critical to plant operation.
Process plants contain a large number of process valves with a wide diversity of designs that control the flow of a wide range of fluids. The ergonomic issues associated with the design, operation, and maintenance of valves include
- Physical stress to open and close them
- Potential for injuries and subsequent related costs
- Lack of access to process-critical valves
- Difficulty of removing and replacing them
- Potential for process upsets when valves cannot be operated in the time required
As a result of injuries suffered while operating valves, a major US petroleum-refinery company initiated a program to identify high-risk valves and to modify them to reduce the operating risk of injury.
A model, illustrated in Fig. 1, was developed to create a systematic approach to identify the valve issues in a process plant, analyze the issues, prioritize the valves that need attention, implement a solution, and measure the results. The approach can be modified to reflect the unique character of the plant that implements the program.
The objectives of the study were to
- Develop a valve-risk-assessment program unique to the process plant based on the plant’s human-factors engineering-design standards and the valve-assessment model.
- Assist site personnel in identifying the process-significant valves and surveying them to determine the top candidates for repair or replacement.
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