TAIF-NK: holistic approach to process and occupational safety

How fail-safety of production is provided at TAIF’s oil refinery

Safe working conditions, regular training in emergency response, novelties in occupational safety, automation of production processes — these and much more are in the limelight of TAIF-NK. Higher process safety is a priority of the company’s activity. Read in Realnoe Vremya’s report how it becomes possible to provide stable and, most importantly, safe operation of one of the leading oil refineries of Tatarstan.

Win in competitions as pleasant bonus

In early August, competitions among volunteer emergency response team subdivisions took place again at TAIF-NK JSC. Representatives of all three plants of the company — Oil Refinery, Petrol Plant and Heavy Residues High Conversion Facility — competed in knowledge, skills and, most importantly, in the mastery of performing tough tasks. The competition consisted of four stages. At stage one, the competitors had to remove and install the valve of the flange coupling of the gas pipeline in a gas polluted area. At stage two and three, they had to provide first aid to an injured person and quickly evacuate this person from a closed room. And only the best of the best made it to the final where they needed to show jury members how to take resuscitation actions.

Most teams represented Oil Refinery of TAIF-NK JSC. Then, Director of the oil refinery Vladimir Lakhomov observed his subordinates to act and carefully watched them. Every plant, every shop of the enterprise has a volunteer emergency response team, he told Realnoe Vremya’s journalist. And every subdivision must be ready for instant action. For this, training, exercise, competitions are regularly held.

“I myself participated in such competitions in the past, I ran, put out the fire, rescued people, I personally know what it is. Today we see the competitors do it, sometimes I want to take the spanner from them and show how to do it. It is a competition, everything needs to be done quickly. All these lads work in a dangerous facility with high pressure, temperature and they must think quickly and react in an emergency, and it is seen the competitors don’t hold the spanner for the first time and not for fun,” noted Director of Oil Refinery Vladimir Lakhomov.

“Earlier, I annually participated in such competitions, now I control the lads, consult them as a veteran. The hardest stage is to take an injured person from a vessel, but this doesn’t mean that we don’t take the other stages seriously. Carefulness, quickness are needed. The victim’s life during the first minutes after an emergency depends on the volunteer quick response team. We act before professional response teams, fire fighters, doctors and others come, our first actions are crucial,” foreman of Shop No. 7 of Oil Refinery of TAIF-NK JSC Igor Snigur shared with the journalist.

Unbiased jury evaluated the teams’ actions in all stages of the competition. The jury included not only specialists of TAIF-NK JSC but also representatives of the gas rescue team of NKNK PJSC.

“Of course, the time spent on a task is taken into account. But it is more important to not only do everything quickly but also correctly: both the use of personal protective gear and the order of actions. Additional time is added for any violation of requirements or order of actions,” head of the Process Safety Control Department of TAIF-NK JSC Anton Vakhotin talked about the rules.

“Such competitions are very important and useful for us. Of course, we actively prepare for them because we want to win the first place very much. Last year, we were first, this year we really want to repeat our success. But the victory is just a pleasant bonus to our daily work and of course a stimulus to hold the leadership in the future,” vice head of Shop No. 8 of Oil Refinery Rinat Rakhmankulov shared his impressions.

So Shop No. 8 of Oil Refinery won first place among the best volunteer quick response teams in 2022, Shop No. 2 of Heavy Residues High Conversion Facility is second, Shop No. 4 of Heavy Residues High Conversion Facility is third.

Now the main trophy of the competition — the long-awaited cup — will again adorn the shelf of volunteers of Shop No. 8 of Oil Refinery till the next competition. Also, the medallists received diplomas and prize money from TAIF-NK JSC.

Regular training as element of corporate unity

“Any enterprise, especially as complex as TAIF-NK, is not only technologies, not only columns, pumps, controllers and other equipment, but it is first of all staff, those top specialists who work here. We appreciate the staff, try to keep its high qualification. Process safety trainings also help to improve this knowledge and serve as a powerful tool for corporate unity,” believes Chief Engineer of TAIF-NK JSC Alexey Khramov.

Neither money nor energy is spared at TAIF-NK JSC to polish the skills in actions in emergencies. Trainings are regularly done, including weekly and are chaired by the chief engineer of the company in one of the shops of the enterprise.

“The training led by chief engineers are held with volunteer quick response teams, the fire fighting and rescue brigade and the gas rescue team. During the trainings, we improve the skills of communication between all the services, learn practical skills to prevent an emergency, rescue and evacuate people from a dangerous zone,” said head of the Process Safety Control Department of TAIF-NK JSC Anton Vakhotin.

Realnoe Vremya’s journalist witnessed such weekly training. Legend has it that the lid of the pump filter got unsealed and started to burn in Petrol Plant. As employees of the enterprise note, precisely the couplings — flange, bolted, etc. — are one of the most vulnerable places in equipment.

“The manufacturing units with equipment and pipelines are equipped with gas sensors. They go off in case of depressurisation and make a signal. After hearing it, the shift foreman must put on personal protective equipment and detect the location of the sensor at a safe distance, the character of the emergency, declare an emergency in the shop, call the rescue team and fire fighting brigades. Then he must order volunteer emergency response teams consisting of shift workers to put on masks, suits and explore the gas polluted area,” head of the Process Safety Control Department of TAIF-NK JSC Anton Vakhotin explained.

The journalist could see this all first-hand. The employees of Petrol Plant where the training was held acted accurately and strictly according to the instructions. At the shift foreman’s command, the volunteer emergency response team on duty put on breathing equipment within seconds and headed to search for victims. Air tanks, rubber hermetic suits, a mask and helmet allow being on the emergency site for quite a long time safely.

A few minutes later, fire fighters and gas rescue teams arrived at the emergency site, while 25 minutes later, the participants made a summary in the central operator’s room.

“The fire fighting brigade was received as it should be, information was delivered, the walkie-talkie was switched on. We deployed emergency services, provided the hose to cool down the neighbouring structures, equipped the foam tower and put out the fire towards the unit. We kept up with time. The employees of the enterprise took all measures to extinguish the fire preliminarily before our arrival,” head of the Fire Fighting and Rescue Brigade No. 91 Stanislav Bannikov said about the details of the training.

“As soon as the so-called depressurisation was confirmed, we entered the gas polluted area. Upon arrival, we examined the perimeter for victims, there was none. Then, after the so-called fire was extinguished, we repaired the leak and took a sample to learn if there are harmful gases. Then we cleaned up and returned to the shop,” said one of the members of the volunteer emergency response team, equipment operator of Petrol Plant of TAIF-NK JSC Marat Zaynutdinov.

The management that carefully watched the training assessed it satisfactorily. There are just two marks for training: satisfactory meaning that all members worked accurately and if needed to act in real conditions, an emergency would be quickly localised and eliminated. Unsatisfactory means a threat for everybody.

The TAIF-NK management isn’t sentimental, but the scary “unsatisfactory” is rarely heard here. The reason is the approach to providing process safety: many want to be on the volunteer emergency response team, but only the most trained workers of the enterprise have a chance. And everybody who received such an honour actively learns and does their best to justify the trust and not fail the colleagues and the whole staff. Nowadays the volunteer emergency response team of TAIF-NK JSC has 383 certified workers.

Occupational safety as foundation of TAIF-NK’s process safety

The stable work of such a big enterprise as TAIF-NK can and must be provided only without emergencies and the organisation of safe working conditions. The employees’ lives and health in the production activity of the company are an undoubted priority.

TAIF-NK JSC elaborated a complex of measures aimed to prevent the slightest threat of emergencies and accidents. Special production control measures oversee these measures. Special attention is paid to the technical audit of hazardous production facilities of the enterprise.

“Every TAIF-NK worker cares about occupational safety. Moreover, occupational safety starts when a worker is just hired, does a check-up, gets acquainted with working conditions, the collective agreement, documents about the rules of issue of personal protective equipment, detergents and others and does dedicated briefings,” Rinat Kurmanov, head of the occupational safety service of TAIF-NK JSC told the journalist.

Every worker of the enterprise mandatorily does training in occupational safety in specialised training centres that have dedicated licences and accreditation. The centres teach how to provide the first aid, use personal protective equipment, tell them about the dangers that can appear in the workplace and how to act in emergencies.

“Our training centre trains specialists, managers and workers of TAIF-NK in a wide range of areas. It is general occupational safety issues, obligations and responsibility of workers in meeting the requirements for occupational safety, special assessment of working conditions, fire safety, electric safety and others, Inna Frolova, teacher of Ru-centre regional training centre told Realnoe Vremya’s journalist.

As employees of the centre note, the workers of TAIF-NK JSC study with interest: they carefully listen and write down everything the specialists talk about. A test is taken after the training.

“Only those who successfully passed the exam are allowed to work. Then the workers do theoretical and practical internships in the factory. Unlike the previous training, the theoretical part includes the knowledge of local documents — technological regulations, instructions, workplace provisions, while practice allows using the knowledge in reality and solidify the materials,” the enterprise explained the strictness of the approach.

After the internship, the workers also test their knowledge in front of special commissions including specialists of the plants and the management.

Together with the next group, Bulat Nurmukhametov, equipment operator of the Heavy Residues High Conversion Facility of TAIF-NK JSC, also does occupation safety training at the training centre. The young man joined the enterprise about a month ago. He says he did a check-up first, then he attended an introductory briefing on occupational safety, then he was referred to the training.

“Studying at this centre, I learnt theoretical knowledge about the requirements for occupational health, labour, learnt how to provide first aid in workplace emergencies, additional information about special training, improved my knowledge,” Bulat said and added that occupational safety for him is a guarantee of safe, accident-free work, minimisation of casualties and material losses and improvement of culture and workforce productivity.

Bulat Nurmukhametov stresses that at TAIF-NK JSC, every worker strictly meets occupational safety requirements. The management cares about the staff, and for safe work, the workers are given personal protective equipment, detergents and disinfectants, special clothes and shoes. Moreover, quality personal protective equipment meeting all requirements is chosen as early as at the procurement stage.

“The whole range of personal protective equipment have terms of reference with the necessary features, certification requirements and the producer’s test protocols. After an analysis, the personal protective equipment meeting the requirements of the organisation, not cheaper ones, are purchased,” specified Rinat Kurmanov, head of the occupational safety service of TAIF-NK JSC.

The special clothes of TAIF-NK JSC is worthy of attention. Equipment operators, pump and compressor machinists, repairmen are given polyamide clothes — it is non-flammable cloth. The materials are resistant to fire, acids and alkali.

Digitalisation as occupational safety system tool

TAIF-NK JSC pays attention to not only the tradition work on occupation safety regulated by current legislation. The enterprise learns new methods too. During the information era where progress touches every profession and job, the company tries to improve — automate processes taking subdivisions’ time and energy. The goal is to give everybody an opportunity to do their professional job not distracting with other tasks.

Digital technologies allow reducing the excessive workload on people and as a consequence minimise the mistake, the impact of the so-called human factor, which is inevitable when working with a lot of information.

“Such processes as the organisation of provision of personal protective equipment, preparation of documents for medical examinations have been automated in the last years. Accurate information about the necessity of personal protective gear can be quickly and effortlessly obtained, even the sizes, what examinations a worker should do during the check-up, what risks exist in a specific workplace. A project for automated creation and approval of permits on hazardous works with gas and fire has been implemented this year. This was positively evaluated both by the staff and the watchdogs,” Rinat Kurmanov said.

Automated processes are actively used when signing labour contract so that a job seeker gets acquainted with the working conditions. As the enterprise thinks, this provides targeted and accurate approach to every worker.

CCTV cameras oversee around the clock how occupational safety requirements are met.

“Control points are used during the rounds of the territory and equipment where the worker must check in. If there isn’t check-in during a round for a long time, this is a reason to call the worker to learn how he or she feels,” the head of the occupational safety service of TAIF-NK JSC adds.

In the future, TAIF-NK JSC plans to introduce 100% control of the organisation of workers’ training in occupational safety. After the Government adopted a decree No. 2464 Order of Occupational Safety Training and Test, there are three programmes in occupational safety training, and it is necessary to clearly understand which one every worker needs according to their functions in the workplace. Thanks to specialists of the IT Department, there are successes in this area.

Under strict control

The environment and providing due conditions in the employees’ workplaces is under the strict control of TAIF-NK JSC. The company’s own sanitary and industrial lab has been supervising this for many years.

“Our laboratory started working in January 2014 as a subdivision of TAIF-NK. Thanks to this, there is no need to invite external organisations to monitor the environment and keep control of the production. Now TAIF-NK specialists can timely respond and constantly control questionable situations and quickly and correctly provide information to watchdogs,” noted head of the sanitary and industrial lab of TAIF-NK JSC Nadezhda Yegorova.

Last year, the sanitary and industrial laboratory successfully had its competence confirmed in the Russian Accreditation Service. It not only confirmed the professional skills of the employees but also expanded the accreditation. Today the lab regularly monitors the environment in more than 200 indicators.

“Our laboratory controls industrial emissions, the atmosphere, including on the territory of the enterprise and on the border of the sanitary protection zone, demineralised, drinking, natural water and sewage,” the specialists enumerated the spheres of their activity.

To control the water used in the production, according to the plans for analytic control over the plants, the laboratory workers do more than 50,000 measurements a year. Special attention is paid to polluting emissions in the atmosphere. Also, lab workers control physical factors of the workplace environment.

“The air pollution indoors and a poor air quality in the city are among the two most serious problems with toxic pollution in the world. The sanitary and industrial lab regularly inspects every worker’s workplace. The specialists measure the microclimate during different seasons of the year, the noise, vibration, illumination, electromagnetic radiation, electrostatic intensity and the air ion composition of the air. All this allows improving the working conditions,” stressed head of the sanitary and industrial laboratory of TAIF-NK JSC Nadezhda Yegorova.

Laboratory assistants carried out more than 23 thousand measurements during manufacturing supervision at 4,600 workplaces.

Based on the results of the manufacturing supervision performed, laboratory staff draw up protocols and send them to the environmental protection department and the labour protection service for timely adoption of the necessary decisions. Besides, every employee of the company gets acquainted with information about the current conditions at the workplace. And if prerequisites for exceeding the standards are identified, all necessary measures are taken to normalise the situation.

Based on the results of a special assessment of working conditions, a list of measures to improve working conditions and labour protection at workplaces where research was conducted, as well as an Action Plan to improve working conditions and labour protection — Agreement on Labour Protection — are developed annually. These list and plan are included in the collective agreement, which is the guarantor of their implementation.

Emissions have decreased by 2,41 thousand tonnes over 5 years.

Since the appearance of own sanitary and industrial laboratory at the enterprise, the facts of reducing the level of negative impact on the environment have been regularly noted. The environmental measures implemented at TAIF-NK JSC have significantly reduced the release of pollutants into the atmospheric air.

The company replaced outdated burners of process furnaces with modern ones, abandoned the use of liquid fuel in furnaces, high-sulphur raw materials from the catalytic cracking plant were replaced with low-sulphur ones — with the HRCC.

Besides, due to the use of self-generated gas, flare discharge at refineries has been reduced, and the use of a gas-equalising line on spherical storage tanks made it possible to exclude the discharge of hydrocarbon gas to the flare. When preparing equipment for major repairs, steaming with the use of special reagents is now used. And this is only part of the implemented measures aimed at reducing the eco-load. Thanks to the implementation of these projects over 5 years, the volume of emissions has decreased by 2,41 thousand tonnes — from 14,24 thousand tonnes to 11,83 thousand tonnes a year.

There are many plans ahead. Including the implementation of a project to equip all sources of pollutant emissions with automatic control systems. The data collected in the State Register will help to further reduce the negative impact on the environment.

“Automation of impact accounting is an innovation in Russian environmental realities. The transition to this type of accounting is a long, time-consuming and costly process for any enterprise," TAIF-NK JSC recognizes.

Costly, but necessary and important. This work is already underway at TAIF-NK. In 2021, one of the emission sources located at the refinery was equipped with an automated emission monitoring system. Now the system is in pilot operation.

Today, TAIF-NK JSC is a modern oil refining complex that fully meets the trends in the development of the oil refining industry and is the basis of the Russian economy. Constant progress, development and the implementation of modern technologies in production are realities for the company, which in terms of the level of tasks, quality of results and efficiency of work occupies a worthy place among the large, stable and competitive enterprises of the Russian Federation.

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Lilia Yegorova

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