Marcus Evans

Industry Experts Address Solutions for Major Safety and Environmental Hazards and Risks Prevalent in Fossil-Fuel Power Plants

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Courtesy of Marcus Evans

The upcoming marcus evans HSE Excellence for Fossil Generation Conference — set to take place August 6–8, 2013, in Dallas, Texas — will address critical challenges and lessons learned in the industry to drive solution-based topics, including worksite safety management, confined space, safety training, fall protection, EPA regulations, combustible dust, electrical arc flash, retaining knowledge from the aging workers, and complying with OSHA standards.

Bob Taylor, Retired Manager, ES&H, American Electric Power, and Secretary & Past Chairman, PRB Coal Users’ Group, spoke with marcus evans about the upcoming HSE Excellence for Fossil Generation Conference and how organizations can cultivate a comprehensive safety management system that strengthens fall protection and confined space processes while achieving optimal compliance. Taylor is also a presenter at the event, which takes place at the Westin Dallas Park Central.

Q. You have an extensive background in combustible dust, coal, fire protection, management systems, occupational safety and health, among others. As you continue to be active worldwide in safety, what are a few methodologies you can share in managing combustible dust?

Bob Taylor: Simply … focus on controlling dust well at the point of source to eliminate the hazard(s) elsewhere and implement and mature a combustible dust management system. Remember, it’s more than just accepting the hazard and cleaning it up time after time. Be proactive rather than reactive!

Q. What are some strategies to continuous improvement? 

Taylor: First and foremost is to put the human eye on it. Talk with those who actually do the work. By understanding what the conditions truly are and seeing it through a fresh set of eyes, a continual improvement plan may be developed and acted on. Use subject matter experts as fresh eyes to guide in the improvement process.

Q. How have you formulated a plan to assess the risk through all procedures, audits and inspections?

Taylor: Risks can be defined, managed, and reduced. It’s a systematic process that is the framework for what one does and how it is done to manage the risks. The review and check phase supports the development of actions to pursue continual improvement. It also includes an effectiveness review to determine if the actions taken produce the results anticipated.

Q. What are your recommendations for how to review the effectiveness of procedures and of education/training?

Taylor: Talk with those who use the procedures, and carry out the tasks. Evaluate that the actions are meaningful and set the stage for success. Unfortunately, training is often measured in hours not in achieving job performance requirements. Often that is an indicator that the system has failed to define the knowledge and skills required to perform the tasks. Job performance requirements are observable and measureable, not a checklist but rather a true measure of performance.

Q. How would you go about evaluating controls?

Taylor: Putting the human eye on the areas, processes and management system will clarify if the objectives are being achieved.

Q. What are your views with the ongoing developments related to both OSHA and NFPA standards?

Taylor: OSHA has standards that may be used, and their continued efforts to create a specific, combustible dust standard are likely to be hampered by the very burdensome and intensive regulatory process they are required to follow. NFPA continues to work well in the process to improve existing standards and create a fundamentals standard on combustible particulate solids and dusts. In all cases, the focus is on management systems, and a specific element of a management system that continues to reinforce a level of importance is management of change. Management of change is often the element that meets the greatest resistance yet amongst to more important method for the transfer of knowledge to build success rather than to avoid failure. 

With over 29 years of experience in the electric power industry, Bob has extensive background in combustible dust, coal, fire protection, occupational safety & health, management systems, and physical security. Bob recently retired from American Electric Power however he continues to be active world-wide in safely handling coal.  He serves as Past Chairman and Secretary - Board of Directors of the PRB Coal Users' Group.  He also is a principal member of a number of National Fire Protection Association’s Technical Committees focused on combustible dust, electric generating plants, and industrial fire brigades.

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