LA PORTE, TexasAustin Industrial is taking safety and operations training to the jobsite, using a mobile process safety management (PSM) skid that simulates a high-pressure unit at an operating facility. The custom-made, trailer-mounted module is equipped with piping, valves, gaskets, vessels, meter boxes, and other common industrial equipment. The response among the maintenance craft workforce, Austin site managers, and customers has been overwhelmingly positive, according to J. Alberto Villarreal, Austin’s director of language and learning development.

“Our customers, supervisors, and trade craftsmen are very enthused about this focused training,” Villarreal said. “Sometimes people can get complacent. This training serves to reinforce our employee-owners in the correct procedures to safely perform task assignments in real-life, potentially high-risk environments.”

The mobile skid was developed to minimize PSM-related events and focus on real-word scenarios. It is one part of an integrated company-wide operations and safety craft development endeavor. Austin’s Subject Matter and Regulatory Training (SMART) department produces job-focused videos that demonstrate the proper company procedures for safety, quality control, and work processes for tasks replicated on the PSM skid. Crews must view the assigned videos before they receive training on the PSM skid.

Austin has found that the hands-on training is most effective when delivered to a single crew of approximately three to five craft employee-owners.

“It’s realistic and focused because the core groups who work on day-to-day tasks together are going through this training together,” said Dwayne Dupeire, director of craft training.

One type of training is lockout/tagout, or LOTO, an industry and OSHA safety requirement for hazardous energy applications. The tradecraft employee-owner walks the line involved in the task to ensure each valve and tag are in their proper positions before work on the unit can begin.

Villarreal said that particular lesson was eye-opening for one Austin employee-owner. Last December, he took part in a LOTO lesson on the PSM skid as part of a massive Austin training effort at the petrochemical plant where he and other Austin employees provide maintenance. Just two days later, one of the owner’s plant operators had prepared a unit for maintenance activities. The young craft maintenance worker noticed a valve not properly closed in the LOTO position. He brought it to the attention of supervisors and plant operators; the job was stopped; and the situation was corrected.

Another lesson involves learning how to correctly read a piping and instrumentation diagram to select the right gaskets for fittings on the skid. The skid can be used to train welders, pipefitters, boilermakers, and electricians. Austin adapts the PSM skid equipment to mimic field situations present at the sites where it will be used for training.

“We evaluate all aspects of our crews, with regular testing at all sites. We design our PSM skid training to cover gaps that are identified,” Villarreal said. Lessons are designed on proper work procedures, correct use of personal protective equipment, permitting, tool and equipment selection, safety, and other topics.

In its first few months of use, the training skid has hit several sites across Texas. It is now deployed to Austin customer sites in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, and South Carolina, providing focused, customized craft training. Recognizing the valuable practical training this module allows, Austin plans to build additional PSM units to expand the number and variety of lessons available.

“We know the module is well-received by customers because one of our longtime clients requested we bring the skid to their plant to test a new device for use on valves,” Dupeire said. “We’ve received a lot of positive feedback from everyone.”

by Anne Peterson

About Austin Industrial

Austin Industrial is a premier provider of maintenance, construction, and soft craft services to the oil, gas, and chemical; power; pulp and paper; and manufacturing industries. Austin Industrial is a privately held, merit shop company with 4,000 employee-owners. Its core service areas are the Gulf Coast and the southeastern United States, with capabilities to perform nationwide. Austin is committed to safety above all else and to staying ahead by thinking ahead. They equip the most experienced employee-owners in the industry with innovative technology solutions that improve efficiency and enhance safety performance. For more information on the PSM skid and other craft training efforts, contact Austin Industrial at 713-641-3400.