Retired and Dangerous...Mothballed Vessels and Abandoned Equipment
In a recent article in ASSE’s Professional Safety magazine, we found some very important points to consider for rescuers. Whether you are preparing for stand-by rescue operations, getting ready to enter an “abandoned in place” vessel, or just found the “perfect” retired vessel to use for your upcoming rescue training…proceed with caution!
The article does a great job of reminding us that not so long ago the emphasis on safety was far less than it is today. This becomes very clear when we compare current safety practices, such as Management of Change (MOC), and how the absence of that particular management tool has left many retired confined spaces and other systems in a potentially dangerous state.
Because of the potential dangers posed to emergency responders, we wanted to share this article with our readers.
Here are some key points from the article “Retired and Dangerous, Out-of-Service Equipment Hazards” by Robert Wasileski.
• Management of Change is emphasized more during the design and operational phase of equipment life cycles, but receives little emphasis when it is time to retire the equipment.
• Older facilities have a high potential to have retired equipment that haven’t had all hazards addressed and may pose serious risks.
• Equipment that has been out of service for an extended period of time often has very little data on record stating how it was prepared to be taken out of service.
• There are many instances of chemical reactions that can change the physical condition of the equipment over time.
The author provides several case studies that are truly enlightening. It includes some excellent lessons for rescuers when dealing with out-of-service or “moth-balled” vessels. While a couple of the cases delve pretty deeply into chemical reactions, it serves as a critical reminder of how important it is to check with a qualified person. Remember…just because a vessel has been out of service for a long period of time does not mean there are no hazards present!