It’s no secret that power plants can be dangerous places to work. With all of the high-voltage equipment and flammable materials, it’s a miracle that more accidents don’t happen. But thanks to the hard work of safety engineers, and the employees on-site, power plant accidents are relatively rare.
Even so, it’s essential for everyone who works at or visits a power plant to be aware of the safety measures in place and what to do in case of an emergency. In this article, we will look at and review some of the essential safety measures in place at power plants worldwide.
Types of Power Plant Safety Risks for Workers
Power plant workers face several risks on the job, from electrical shocks and burns to gas explosions and chemical spills. In the following section, we will look at some of the most common types of safety risks faced by power plant workers.
Power plant workers are, of course, no strangers to electricity. But even though they work with high-voltage equipment all day, power plant workers are still at risk for electrical hazards that can lead to severe injury or death. Every year in the United States, there are around 50 worker fatalities related to electrical safety, and these incidents account for more than 35% of all worker fatalities.
One of the most common causes of electrical hazards in power plants is arc flash, which occurs when an electric current jumps across a small gap in equipment. If that gap happens to be on your body, you’re going to feel quite a jolt! Luckily for power plant workers, they are protected from arc flashes by insulated tools and clothing. If you think your clothes are enough to protect you, though, think again. Wearing too much insulation can make it easier for an electric current to jump across a gap in your body!
Chemical contamination is a danger in nearly all industrial workplaces. For example, power plant workers face the additional risk of flammable gases and chemicals used for cooling. The most important thing to remember about chemical safety is that you should wash it off immediately if something feels slippery or sticky!
Even if you think the substance may not be dangerous – especially if you are unsure – it’s still important to wash any foreign substance off your skin. This is especially the case if you are working with sulfuric acid or hydrochloric acid, which can cause serious chemical burns if allowed to remain on the skin for long periods.
A boiler explosion is a common power plant accident and occurs when a pocket of water vapor builds up inside a boiler and explodes. It can be caused by a malfunction in the pressure control system, allowing more steam to accumulate. A single boiler explosion can cause severe injuries to anyone in the vicinity.
It is important to remember that there are safety measures in place meant to prevent boiler explosions from happening; if your plant experiences a boiler explosion, it’s likely because these safety mechanisms were compromised or failed to work altogether. This is especially the case when boilers are operated at higher pressures than what is recommended by the manufacturer.
The most important safety measure to prevent boiler explosions is the simplest: constantly monitor the pressure gauge and shut down the boiler if this needle moves into dangerous territory.
Safety Measures for Workers at Nuclear Power Plants
Nuclear power plants are some of the most advanced and safest facilities globally. But even with the best safety measures in place, accidents can and do happen. In this section, we will look at and review some of the essential safety measures in place at nuclear power plants.
Workers at nuclear power plants must complete extensive training in safety protocols. During this training, it is emphasized that the facility’s safety and everyone involved with its operation depend on consistent adherence to safety procedures. Employees who do not follow these procedures are subject to disciplinary action, including termination of their employment.
Most plants require a permit to be issued for each maintenance procedure that is going to take place. Procedures may also need to be approved by the presiding regulatory agency before they can proceed; in the case of special nuclear material (SNM), this requires additional permitting through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
Employees who work with SNM must complete training through the DOE to receive their permits. Procedures that involve the use of radioactive material must be performed by experienced personnel who have successfully completed this course.
It is a requirement for nuclear power plants to submit a “Notice of Events” on any problems or malfunctions that may occur at the facility. Failure to report these issues within 24 hours can result in fines and other penalties.
Minimizing Risks & Improving Workplace Safety
Accidents can and do happen, even in the safest of workplaces. That’s why it’s crucial to have a comprehensive safety plan in place and ensure that all employees are adequately trained to follow these procedures.
At Salvation Safety, we offer customized on-site safety training programs to help you meet your regulatory guidelines and keep your workers safe. Our systems have been carefully designed and iterated upon to ensure complete compliance. For more information about our offerings, please contact us today.