How Overlooking Pressure Gauges Impacts Workplace Safety

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Workplace safety is a hot issue today. The fact that many workplace accidents can be prevented has become public knowledge, as has the fact that some manufacturing and refining facilities have much poorer safety records than others. Industrial accidents have been lead news stories for years, and given the Deepwater Horizon disaster and other major accidents over the last few years, the general public is sensitized to the subject. This heightened public awareness regarding industrial accidents is yet another important reason for manufacturing and refinery facility management to stay focused on plant safety.

Safety training is certainly an important piece of the workplace safety puzzle, but process equipment is ground zero for plant safety. Virtually all key production machinery is on a regular maintenance schedule. But what about the noncritical equipment? Statistics show1 that most industrial accidents are related to failures of unmonitored, noncritical equipment such as process media pumps, valves, or gauges, and that serious accidents typically result from a cascade effect when these failures go unnoticed for some period of time.

Pressure Gauge Facts

Through experience in conducting more than 250 instrument audits, WIKA Instrument engineers have discovered that there are, on average, 7.6 failing or broken pressure gauges within 20 feet of a given employee at a typical manufacturing or refining facility. You don't have to be an actuary to understand the risk that number of broken gauges represents.

WIKA data also shows that around 25% of the pressure gauges in a typical plant are either broken, failing, or misapplied. Malfunctioning and improperly installed gauges present a double danger—first, plant operators are no longer receiving the important data they need to make optimum decisions; and second, broken and misapplied gauges can leak process media and lead to accidents.

FAST Instrument Audit

A comprehensive Instrument Audit can help maximize plant safety. That said, given the retirement rate of  engineers over the last decade, relatively few companies still have the expertise in-house to conduct a thorough instrument audit. Recognizing this problem, WIKA decided to create a team of expert engineers to conduct no-charge instrument audits to qualifying plants. WIKA's Full Audit Service Team (FAST) professionals have the expertise required for an Instrument Audit, decades of experience all told, and they work closely with facility personnel in performing the audit.

A FAST Instrument Audit will not only immediately improve your plant safety by identifying and replacing broken or misapplied gauges but will also provide instrument failure analysis, safety training, and turnaround instrument planning to help develop a lasting workplace safety culture.

1Belke, James C. "Recurring Causes of Recent Chemical Accidents." U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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