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Jeff Hitt

Jeff Hitt is a Director of Sales for RedGuard's SafetySuite brand. He's passionate about providing quality and ethical service to his clients.

Blog Feature

This article was originally published in the May/June 2024 issue of BIC magazine. The author, Jeff Hitt, works on custom projects for the company's SafetySuite brand. If you’ve worked in the industrial sector, you are likely familiar with the concept of a facility siting study (FSS). It may have come up as part of your facility’s process hazard analysis. It is an evaluation that is vital in our industry and to the safety of your team. It should be completed every five years and involves the assessment of the facility’s layout and the position of structures and equipment within chemical processing plants. The study identifies potential hazards like blasts, fires and toxic risks associated with these facilities. Experts, including structural and chemical engineers specializing in impact and blast response, collaborate to assess and document threats to occupied structures or future occupied structures. An FSS could uncover a wide range of issues. It all depends on the facility's age, the number of occupied buildings onsite and whether or not this is the facility's first siting study. Here are a few examples of issues that might be found: Existing buildings that are not strong enough to be used as occupied buildings after the addition of a new process A building’s walls are not strong enough to withstand a blast, even if other structural elements are, like the roof A building contains structural elements that are no longer deemed safe. This could be due to changes in the process or layout changes of the refinery itself. Examples of structural elements this could affect are canopies over doors or windows, wall openings and the actual doors or windows themselves A building now exhibits wear and tear due to age At RedGuard, as manufacturers of blast-resistant buildings, our involvement in the FSS process entails linking facilities with an independent engineering firm to conduct the study, ensuring impartiality. We prioritize the avoidance of conflicts of interest, thus ensuring a clear separation of interests. Consequently, for the FSS, regardless of any prior purchases from RedGuard, we consistently engage a third-party engineering firm. Their recommendations remain impartial and are never directly linked to any specific manufacturer What do you do if you’ve already conducted an FSS and the results are complex, confusing or the company performing the FSS only suggests one proprietary mitigation solution? This can and does happen, which is why our second opinion program exists. Depending on the type of engineering firm you work with, some companies perform the FSS, identify the hazards and create contour maps, but then don’t offer any information on occupied buildings or mitigation options. They may simply hand you a report. If this happens, a follow-up project to do a more detailed conceptual mitigation analysis for these areas can be scheduled. While others may conduct the study, it's common to find that they propose only one option to mitigate identified issues. In this case, it’s a good idea to look at the relationships between the engineering firm and the company that sells the solution. In some instances, the company facilitating the FSS and the company offering the mitigation solution are one and the same, therefore, creating a conflict of interest. It’s okay to question whether this one proprietary solution is really the only option. We’ve also worked with facilities where no changes were made in the five years since the last study, yet they were presented with new mitigation options for issues that didn’t come up the last time the study was completed. Why? There may be a valid reason if the industry standards have changed. If not, then it’s fair to ask if the previous FSS or the new FSS is accurate. This is where RedGuard’s second opinion program comes in. If any of these situations or others arise, it’s okay to seek another opinion. If you’re confused by the results, it’s acceptable to ask for clarification. With our second opinion program, we’ll cover the cost of a 30-minute call with an internationally recognized subject matter expert in the field of blast resistance. This professional will take a closer look at your FSS, give a thorough analysis of the results and recommend mitigation options. This could include safety options in which you were unaware. This approach guarantees a new perspective from an experienced professional and empowers you with a better understanding of your options. The integrity of your facility and the safety of your employees depend on it. The initial phase involves reaching out to RedGuard to engage with one of our experts who will dedicate time to discussing your facility. During this conversation, they will inquire about the facility's particulars, any identified issues and the available mitigation options. Subsequently, we will facilitate your connection with a third-party specialist to evaluate your FSS. For more information, visit RedGuard online.