The copper industry in India comprises of primary copper producers, manufacturers of conductors, copper & copper alloy based rolled, drawn, extruded, cast products. New technologies have been adopted that not just improve product yield but also quality.
As is common to all industries, there are significant variations in pollution control standards in different countries. Mining in developing countries continue to operate in conditions hazardous to workers health and well-being. Respiratory illnesses such as asthma, tuberculosis are caused by inhaling the silica dust that arises from the mines. Silicosis, an untreatable life-threatening condition is also quite common. Smelting operations release large quantities of sulphur dioxide which later falls down to the earth below as acid rain. Over a period of time, acid rain damages crops, trees and even buildings.
Based on this background that the ‘Indian Copper Development Centre’ a non-profit registered society organized a seminar on ‘Pollution Control and Safety Measures in Copper & Copper Alloy Industry’ at the Radisson hotel in Mumbai on September 20th 2019. The seminars attended by industrialists, metallurgical engineers, copper-mine workers, scientists and environmentalists aimed at highlighting the various pollution and hazard control measures available. Experts many of whom are professionals delivered presentations on the best practices to be followed.
Mr Santosh Sharma, Chairman and Managing Director, Hindustan Copper Ltd. inaugurated the seminar. Emphasizing the importance of the seminar in the current scenario, he mentioned that with an increase in copper use in India, stricter and more widespread implementation of pollution and environmental control measures is underway. Mr Rikhab Mehta, managing director, Mehta Group of Industries, and member, Board of Management of Indian Copper Development Centre, welcomed the participants.
Mr U. K. Jatia, Managing Director, Indoswe Engineers Pvt. Ltd. Conducted the plenary session. One of the seminars in the plenary session was by Mr Robert Chettiar, a trainer and deputy general manager of Technical Services Delivery at ‘NIST’, India’s first NEBOSH ‘Gold Learning Partner’. With over twenty three years of professional experience in manufacturing, health & safety, Mr Robert Chettiar drew on his learning and varied professional experience to deliver a presentation on ‘Process Hazard Analysis’ for the benefit of the copper mining industry.
Mr Robert started his presentation by defining the word ‘Hazard’ as a source with a potential to cause injury and ill-health. He said that for a hazard to cause injury there has to be a hazardous event as most events were just accidents and near-misses. Hazardous events are often of varying levels of severity. Then there’s the possibility of risk. Mr Robert defined ‘Risk’ in the context of occupational health & safety. Risk depends upon the likelihood of a hazardous event occurring in combination with the event’s severity. Mr Robert emphasised that for more large scale and complex events, there is ‘Process Hazard Analysis’.
Introducing ‘Process Hazard Analysis’ to the audience, Mr Robert explained it as a checklist to assess potential hazards and take corrective measures. He said that it helps managers and safety officers in preventing events, which would otherwise shut down factory machinery, cause the release of dangerous chemicals into the surrounding environment affecting the health and lives of workers. According to Mr Robert, the analysis consists of a series of steps used to assess the hazard. It begins by defining the work scope, identifying the hazard, risk assessment, verification, concluding with documentation and periodic review. Failures and errors are then evaluated by personnel using a series of questions with each question representing a potential failure. Mr Robert elaborated on this point to the audience through a series of example questions in different categories, as in ‘Equipment failures – what if a valve leaks?’, in ‘Human error – what if the operator fails to restart the pump?’, in ‘External events – what if a very low temperature persists?’ He stressed that the checklist used is in compliance with established practice.
Mr Robert then moved onto ‘Hazard & Operability Study’ (HAZOP) which he said is a thorough examination of existing operations in order that problems may be identified and issues resolved. According to him, a HAZOP is performed to review the existing design in order to identify flaws and rectify them. Mr Robert explained it as follows; a multi-disciplinary team is assembled, processes are broken down into chunks, guide words are chosen, and parameters such as temperature and pressure flows etc., are studied. The findings are then recorded as evidence. He explained that it is followed by a ‘Failure Mode & Effects Analysis’ which requires the team to identify the different ways of failure, its effects and causes, severity impact, chances of re-occurrence, risk priority and recommended actions to be taken. Mr Robert effectively drove home the point to the audience using an everyday example of a toaster; if the bread remained untoasted which is a failure, the corrective measure is to put the bread in twice so as to toast it. In a lighter vein, Mr Robert remarked that if there was no electricity to run the toaster, then the corrective measure to be taken was to eat cereal!
Mr Robert also explained the different methods by which a process hazard analysis is carried out:
(1) Beginning with the ‘Fault Tree Analysis’ method (FTA), Mr Robert said that events which may cause an incident are ordered in a sequence and because the final diagram looks like a tree, it is called a tree analysis. Each branch lists out the possible failures for the event; probabilities are then assigned which can be used to determine event statistics.
(2) Moving onto the ‘Bow-Tie’ method where relationships between unwanted events, their escalation, and preventive measures put in place help reduce the impact of hazardous events. According to Mr Robert, this method is a sum total of all possible causes along with the safety measures in place.
(3) Mr Robert in the third method called the ‘ALARP’ (As Low as Reasonably Practical) explained that it introduces control measures to greatly reduce risks at the lowest level possible whilst keeping costs low. He said that this method while having the advantage of being flexible also had the possibility of some inevitable risk.
Mr Robert then moved onto the last phase of process hazard analysis; ‘Risk Control’. It starts with a checklist which has a hierarchical flow; He said that the first part of the checklist is ‘Inherent Safety’ where safety measures are considered and built-in at the design stage itself. The next part he said is ‘Elimination’ where inventories are minimised so as to remove hazards as early as possible. ‘Substitution’ then comes next where a process is replaced with another that is far less hazardous than the previous one, after which comes ‘Engineering Controls’ where the segregation and spacing of process plants is considered. Mr Robert declared emphatically that this method is the most effective way of controlling hazards as it helps isolate people from hazards.
The audience were able to understand that ‘Process Hazard Analysis’ is a very effective way of controlling and minimizing hazards. Indeed in the United States, it is mandated by occupational health and safety organizations in process safety management regulations.
Despite being a very technical subject, Mr Robert Chettiar of ‘NIST, India’s first NEBOSH Gold Learning Partner’ delivered a seminar wherein he helped the audience understand the key aspects of ‘Process Hazard Analysis’ using flowcharts, diagrams, examples and illustrations.