Having an emergency response plan is essential for businesses of all sizes, across every industry. But in energy facilities, particularly those dealing with hazardous or explosive materials, it becomes a crucial, and often strictly regulated life safety requirement.
Having an emergency response plan is essential for businesses of all sizes, across every industry. But in energy facilities, particularly those dealing with hazardous or explosive materials, it becomes a crucial, and often strictly regulated life safety requirement. In an emergency, not only is it critical to identify where all employees are located, but also that any visitors, contractors, or vendor partners are accounted for and safely evacuated. When an alarm sounds, duty of care requirements and regulatory requirements dictate that companies have protocols in place to effectively respond to an emergency and know precisely who is on-site and that everyone can exit as quickly and safely as possible. Equally important is making sure that everyone at the facility is aware of and follows emergency guidelines.
According to data compiled in the 2021 Guide to the Business of Chemistry from the American Chemistry Council, “Facilities in Texas and Louisiana produce 80 percent of the nation’s primary petrochemical supply, and Texas chemical production tops the nation by far, with chemical shipments valued at $117.5 billion, representing a major portion of the region’s economy, but also the potential for significant security risks and challenges.”
Some petrochemical plants use a traditional, paper-based mustering solution for emergency response scenarios. These manual methods of notifying, mustering, and accounting for personnel can result in costly, potentially dangerous inefficiencies during an emergency. Site access control and visitor management processes are also typically stand-alone and do not communicate with each other, which forces manual processes to log and reconcile individuals when mustering during an emergency response evacuation or a required emergency drill.
To do this, chemical plant security staff typically prints the logs from on-site access control and visitor management systems, then crosses off the names of individuals from the lists when they are accounted for manually. Each list is reconciled on its own and by hand. This outdated process can take hours to complete and holds a potentially high risk of error.
Everon is working with various Houston area petrochemical plants to update their emergency notification systems with innovative, cost-effective solutions. According to these customers, Everon provides comprehensive solutions to fit their needs, and maintains a level of professionalism and dedication to service excellence that other companies too often fail to meet.
One solution Everon has proposed to combat this problem across chemical plant facilities consists of three integrated technologies that include:
- Cloud-Based Access Control: An access control system that is cloud-based may be easier to implement and have a lower cost of entry. This system provides a log of all badged personnel on site to the mustering system for accounting of personnel during an emergency.
- Visitor Management System: This system allows visitors to pre-register and be managed electronically when they come to the plant while providing visibility in case of an emergency.
- Mustering Software and Card Readers: These provide seamless management of emergency events, including electronic mustering, unit accountability, and ERT readiness.
With this solution, access control logs from the cloud-based system and visitor management logs can automatically tell plant operations how many people are on-site through the mustering software. A number of portable mustering units were commissioned with card readers, which allow for quick and easy confirmation of badge reads from fixed muster locations. In addition, warning lights and speakers were also added at plant entrances to alert personnel to emergency events. The mustering system’s mustering software takes the information directly from the access control and visitor management logs and communicates directly with the plant operators. This allows them to manage the entire emergency using the software, starting with an accurate count of who is in the plant and then quickly and easily managing individuals as they safely exit. Emergency response events can be initiated with the click of a button and significantly improve the amount of time needed to accurately count the number of people evacuating the plant.
Installations are consistently performed with personal safety in mind. Everon believes that no work is worth doing if it’s not done safely and in full compliance with governing regulations and standards. No recordable injuries or lost-time events were recorded during any of the projects completed by Everon at any Houston area petrochemical plants.
"Our previous method of pen and paper was very inefficient and antiquated. Everon's solution with our emergency response protocol gives us the cutting edge in technology. Not only does it allow us to become well-organized and systematic, but safer," said one Houston-area client.
Emergency response drills at each petrochemical plant are now completed in minutes, not hours, and emergency responders receive visual confirmation when everyone is confirmed as safe. The plants consider having digital reports of employees that are on- and off-site at the plant a major bonus, along with the ability to deploy mass notifications between the plant and local communities.