Pre-Major Plant Shutdown Checklist

The devil’s in the details” goes the old saying; meaning that if one doesn’t pay attention to the details, it is the details that will get you.

Facility Managers do manage major shutdown work or major work involving large external workforce and equipment moving in for work in both industrial and non-industrial sites. The points in the following list would help us to plan in advance; covering as much details, thus reducing or eliminating some of the “devils”.

 Access Control. Consider limiting and controlling the movement and presence of personnel in the major shutdown work areas. Areas could be barricaded using simple stands and barricade tapes, by deploying sentries or by sealing off affected areas completely. This is resorted to for:

  •  Personal and material safety
  • To define paths for entry and exit for workers, other people and material.
  • To warn people about hazardous areas.

 Work Permits for Modifications and New Constructions. Formal work permits for any modification or new construction works would help in controlling and monitoring people accessing such work areas. These permits could be prepared in advance for the planned work, to avoid delay in start and progressing of work.

 Workman Compensation Insurance for Contract Labour. Ensure that all the contractors provide minimum liability protection and workman compensation insurance for the full period of the work being undertaken by them. This could be made as mandatory to commence work.

 Dust Control. Most of the construction and fabrication works undertaken during periodic shut downs would tend to increase the dust levels in the buildings. Periodic and frequent premises cleaning, sealing off the dust sensitive areas such as clean rooms, providing additional filtration with at HVAC return air suction filter stage, wetting of un-concreted grounds, etc would help reduce dust ingress into buildings.

 Deep Cleaning. Deep cleaning of all affected building premises and thorough cleaning of HVAC duct filters are to be planned before production / services commencement after all the work gets over.Each contractor is liable to clean their own work areas thoroughly before they go out of the site on completion of their part of work.

 Emergency Provisions. Provision of additional emergency showers, eye baths, first aid kits, roving medical aid personnel, strategically positioned stretchers etc to reduce the time taken for first aid in case of any accident or incident.

 Traffic and Crowd Control. Traffic and crowd control points need to be identified in advance for the areas where work is planned and arrangements made for monitoring and controlling such areas by:

  •  Having roving patrols in case of very large area coverage.
  •  Fixing timing for movement of large equipment and other critical sores in and out of work areas.
  •  Keeping track of people accessing work areas.
  •  Issuing identification cards or other markers for the temporary personnel with colour coding to identify areas allowed to access.
  •  Keeping lists of shift personnel on work, their exact locations of working etc.
  •  Keeping a list of emergency contact numbers to contact in case of a mishap or things going out of control.

Waste and scrap handling. During shut down works, much scrap, liquid & solid waste get generated than during normal operations. These need to be identified and disposed regularly to avoid piling up within or outside the work spaces. Hazardous materials are to be identified and disposed as per agreed norms.

 Spill control and containment. Plan for spill control, containment etc if large quantities of hazardous liquids or liquid waste is likely to be handled.

Safety Training. Basic safety training is mandatory for all the temporary workers. Specialised training for people engaged in working at heights, welding, gas cutting, entering confined spaces etc is also essential.

Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). Each contractor is responsible to provide necessary PPE such as safety shoes, gloves, hard hats, welding goggles, anti-splash glasses etc as per their planned and agreed jobs. Use of such items is to be monitored and ensured.

Controlling Noise. Some the shut down jobs may produce excessive noise. For example, concrete cutting, steel grinding, drilling etc. There could be a need to schedule such works to avoid disturbance to other operational areas. For extremely noisy areas, ear plugs may be issued and compliance monitored. 

Project work related damage to Plant Property. Damage to existing property by way of pavements, fences, walls, building portions due to heavy vehicle movements, oversight and / or negligence during project works is possible. Contract clauses to bind contractors to repair any such consequential damages are essential.

External Temporary Contractors’ Material such as Scaffolding, Raw Material, Equipment, Temporary Switchboards etc. The non-regular contractors may bring many items to progress their individual works. There is a need to identify these items to avoid disputes among contractors on items being hijacked by others on site. Ensuring proper unique marking, colour coding of scaffolding, securing expensive material through additional security personnel, etc could be resorted to.

Supervision during Holidays and Night shifts. During contract project work it is possible for work to go on round the clock and over weekends or other closed holidays. There is a need to oversee and monitor all the external contractor works during such periods to ensure safe working and to assist in case of any incident or accident.

Temporary Facilities during Shut down Work. As part of major shut down activities, many temporary facilities may be set up for the large number of temporary work personnel on site. Some of these may be on direct cost to the contractors and vendors, but the FM needs to be aware of such facilities from start to finish.

  •  Temporary cafeteria / Eating facility / Water dispensing points. Logistics arrangements may need to extended from existing arrangements.
  •  Temporary First Aid. Strategically located to provide optimum coverage.
  •  Temporary Lighting. Neatly and securely laid cables and proper connectors need to be provided and timings for the lighting to be switched on and off be discussed. If large number of high power lights are required, separate metering to ascertain energy consumption also may be required.
  •  Temporary shower rooms, rest rooms and change rooms. This needs to be ascertained in advance to give adequate time to set up.
  •  Temporary Storage. Though the storage and security of stores such as raw material, tools, and equipment is that of the concerned vendor or contractor, some basic facilities would have to be provided.
  • Temporary Power Connections. There will be many requirements for temporary power connections. Vendors need to specify the capacity required, timing, equipment going to be connected for work etc. Safety is paramount in this to avoid overloading of feeders, use of unsafe equipment by vendors and contractors, Separate energy meters may also be required depending on the company policies on energy usage billing.
  • Temporary Telephones. This may be provided as required.

Lock Out Tag Out (LOTO) Process Review. In view of the large number of temporary workers who are not well versed with the site systems and processes being present on site and working side by side, a review of the LOTO processes to provide robust and reliable isolation of energies need to be worked out and installed. All the existing site staff and temporary contractor staff need to be trained and informed about the new controls in place. 

Plan your work in advance and execute your work as per plans; you will be free of most of the devils.


Windows Maintenance Tips

Disclaimer – This does not cover the Microsoft types of windows

Why do windows need regular maintenance? Consider the environment in which windows function:

  • They are subjected to extreme temperature differences.
  • Goes through extremely dry climate for part of the year; then wet and humid ones for the rest.
  • Windows must withstand high winds and exposure to ultraviolet light.
  • If operable, they must withstand regular openings and closings without excessive wear and tear.

These environmental conditions take their toll on windows; finishes fail, sealants lose flexibility, components gets rotten or corrode, insects bore into wood and movable parts deflect or corrode.

Unfortunately, without regular window maintenance the damage becomes cumulative and eventually replacement becomes the only economical option.

Clearly, the best way to maximize window life while minimizing problems is a programme of regular inspections and routine general window maintenance. Ideally, every window in a facility should be inspected annually. However, this may be impractical in facilities with large areas of glass. If that’s the case, an alternative is to inspect a representative sample of the windows, usually between 15 and 20 percent of the total, and project the findings to rate the condition of all windows. Make certain the sample includes all types of windows installed and all exposures.

All inspections must be tailored to the type of window. Different kinds of windows have different symptoms, but there are some common problems to look for, such as:

  •   The condition of the interior surfaces around the window. Look for water stains, rot and other indications that moisture has been reaching the interior. Make note of where those stains are so that maintenance crews know where to look for the source of water. Photographs will help document the findings.
  • Check the fit of windows. Frames and sashes are subject to changes in size with use and exposure to temperature cycles. As a result, a gap can form between window components, increasing both air and water infiltration. Check the fit of all window components, making note of any that are excessive.
  • Operable windows should be opened all the way then closed completely to see how easy they are to operate. For wood windows, any binding in operation could signify swelling or warping of the window frame or sash — both indications that moisture is penetrating some components. In both metal and wood windows, failed or corroded operators can cause problems operating the units.
  • Examine the caulking between the frame and the building wall. Many window designs use a flexible seal between components. With time and exposure to ultraviolet light, moisture, and temperature extremes, the seals can lose flexibility and fail. Rubber ages with time and becomes hard, thus loosing its sealing property. Examine all seals over their entire length for proper fit and sealing.
  • Inspect the finish on the exterior of the window for defects. In most cases, paint failures on wood windows can be traced back to moisture. Identify areas not only where the paint has failed but also where it is likely moisture is getting into the wood. Paint failure on metal windows can accelerate the deterioration of the window’s metal parts. Identify not only where the paint has failed, but also the cause.
  • For wood windows, check all surfaces for rot and decay using a metal probe. Identify all areas where rot is detected. Note the most likely areas where moisture is gaining access to wood that shows signs of rot and decay.
  • Check for the integrity of the shatter proof film or sun screening film applied on the glass surfaces of windows. Plan for necessary changing with similar films as required.

Safety Aspects

While working on windows, it is very possible that people will be working at heights above 2 Mts. Please ensure that the people deployed for this job are trained to work at heights, have been trained in related safety processes and that the necessary PPE are being used during the
work. Ensure that the work is fully supervised.

If equipment such as scissor or boom lifts are required, relevant training on using the same is also to be imparted.

Opportunity Work

Consider other jobs that could be done in the windows areas such as cleaning neon and other signage, removing any vegetation from ledges and sun shades, clearing debris from otherwise inaccessible areas.

This article is adapted from another one compiled by Facilities Net Staff

Pipe Connections – Care in alignment


This one is from experience on board ships.

While serving on one of the ships, we had a recurring problem of bolts shearing on a fire main header connection to the ring main.

Root Cause Analysis

A large number of pipes in this section of the fire main were replaced with new ones during the last ship refit since inspection revealed extensive internal corrosion and wall thinning by way of bends. What all had happened till then?

The system is a little complicated since it crosses a few decks and watertight bulkheads through watertight glands. There were a few bends and joints in the way. Where, How, Why?


The new pipes were made using the existing ones as template or sample. A few of the older pipes found serviceable were also used. What, Where?

While fitting out the pipes onboard, with the combination of old and new elements, the pipe alignment had gone haywire (the magnitude could be in millimeters per instance though). The pipes were fitted as it is and the cumulative misalignment at the last flange to be connected must have been high.What, Where, How, Why, Who?

The last two flanges were brought together face to face using force and buttoned up, with gaskets and gasket eliminator paste. No leaks were reported during the ensuing trials.How, Who, Why, Where?


The bolt shearing problem started the moment the ship started sailing. This could have been due to the induced vibration on the system pipe line aggravating the strain on the bolts (already stressed due to the forced connection).

Immediate Remedial Measure.

The last section of pipe was removed. A template was made to remake a new pipe to exact dimensions. The system was buttoned up using the newly made pipe. No more bolt shearing…….wow.

How to avoid recurrence?

The above mentioned scenario is applicable to any piping connection. In pipe laying, it is essential that all pipes are made as per a layout diagram. The last pipe connecting to more rigid members such as a pump or gland or fixed flange need to be made as per a template with accurate measurements.

In some cases with Copper and Aluminium pipe systems, age hardening occurs. Both Copper and Aluminium pipes are amenable to damage while in use or in storage. Alignment check before closing the last element of pipe is essential to avoid flange stress. The larger the pipe diameter, the more pronounced the problem.


The Monkeys Story


Many of us have served in some organisation or the other. We may have had varying emotions towards the work culture, organisation’s responses to our needs, peer pressure, communications effectiveness etc. When we look at an organisation, it is a monolith made up of groups (small or large)  of individuals. The constituents generally follow a few sets of rules and protocols or fall out of the organisation.

I saw a wonderful presentation on the topic some time back. I adapted the story when I spoke with my team on taking over as Facilities manager at a car manufacturing plant. I have recycled the same story and attached it as a pdf document to this post. Click on the link to read and enjoy.

The Monkeys Story

Please do take some time to key in your comments on the posts too. Thanks in advance.