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Program Ranks Musculoskeletal Risk of Operating Valves in Process Industries

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.

Introduction

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.

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 The paper has not been peer reviewed.
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Program Ranks Musculoskeletal Risk of Operating Valves in Process Industries

01 August 2014

Volume: 66 | Issue: 8

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