Shutdowns are a routine that many factories in Pennsylvania and across the U.S. engage in. They allow time for maintenance, cleaning, technical upgrades, and other extensive projects. However, the safety risks that come with a shutdown can be different from what workers are used to when the plant is in operation. There are a few non-routine risks that management and personnel should watch out for before shutting down.
Elevated surfaces like ladders and scaffolding may pose a risk for employees, so those who normally don't work at heights should receive training beforehand. There are OSHA regulations concerning fall protection that must be followed. People may be required to work in confined spaces, which could be filled with harmful gases or have a lack of oxygen.
Shutdowns are usually a time for plant owners to install permanent electrical wiring solutions rather than depending on extension cords. Working with electrical power sources will pose a hazard for inexperienced workers. Another concern lies in pipelines, which could still carry hazardous vapors and liquids after they have been drained. Employees should be educated on the nature of these vapors before receiving hot work permits. They should also be trained on proper lock and tag procedures for the control of hazardous energy, and all project plans and timelines should be shared between workers and supervisors.
Even if all safety protocols are filed, workplace accidents can happen. People who have been injured in one are generally entitled to seek workers' compensation benefits that can include the payment of medical expenses and, in some cases, a percentage of wages lost during the period of time that the victim is unable to work. An attorney can further explain the scope of benefits as well as how to apply for them.