How phs Besafe can help Utilities & Petro-Chem Industry

The petrochemical industry includes a very diverse spectrum of businesses – from crude oil production to the manufacturing of plastic tubes. The conditions and demands of these businesses are very different when it comes to health and safety issues. A commonality however is that this is one of the most complex and high-risk industries for managing employee health and safety and avoiding contamination of the environment. The ‘Responsible Care’ programme commits companies and their suppliers to continuously improve the environmental, health, safety and security knowledge and performance in the industry. While improvements are certainly being made, there is still much room for further progress.

Compared to the metals and machinery Industries, where the main driver when it comes to workwear and PPE is to keep their workforce safe, the petrochemical and utilities industry has many more stakeholders to deal with. Legislative demands and employee demands are both important, but the overall driver for the industry is societal demands - and the connected brand risk if anything goes wrong. No other business or industry is under a similar level of scrutiny from both consumers and environmental groups.


This complexity also has implications on operational challenges when it comes to workwear and PPE:

1. Balancing the need of the individual with regulatory demands.

The multi-facetted tasks in operations often create a need for a wide variety of workwear and PPE. Understanding the risks and how they translate into the best possible solution for each individual worker requires expert knowledge in both legislation and what the market must offer by way of solutions. There is a risk of taking shortcuts - letting the employees themselves decide what they need – or rather what they want and feel comfortable with. Even though it might be true that the employees want to stay safe, finding high quality equipment for each task demands a supplier with industry specific competence, broad sourcing capabilities and products tested and certified for the specific task.

2. Both functional and technical quality are important

Functional quality – fit, usability etc. – is extremely important to ensure the correct usage of equipment. However, what is sometimes forgotten is also the technical quality, and more specifically, how this changes over time. The need for correct maintenance processes is much higher for the petrochemical and utilities industry than most other industries.

Environmental contamination from the laundry process is a significant risk when handling varying chemicals and toxins. Contamination risks in the production process are also a reality in many companies in this industry - this calls for rigid control systems in ensuring that the proper attire is worn and the correct maintenance of workwear is carried out for entering specific areas of production. Finally, functional control is also about safety. Workwear and PPE not under structured control and maintenance is a risk. Hi-vis clothing for instance requires the correct laundering process to ensure it does not lose its reflective qualities. Not controlling or repairing garments or equipment is a risk as well.

3. Total up time = Supply just-in-time

Ensuring immediate access to the right workwear and protective equipment is a question of production uptime for most companies. Without the right equipment, there is simply no production. At the same time, we noticed many companies lack a good connection between workforce planning and the supply of PPE. This is often solved by having local suppliers that act as fire fighters - and instances where the employees can stop by, try out and pick up what they need - with the risk of course of not getting the best suited equipment or having to pay an unnecessary premium.