50 years of FORAN in continuous reinvention - December 2014 - No. 48 /Up-to-Date

Torresol Energy, committed to safety in Operation and Maintenance

An operator from Torresol O&M team carries out an inspection in the ATEX zone at Valle 1 and Valle 2.

An operator from Torresol O&M team carries out an inspection in the ATEX zone at Valle 1 and Valle 2.

Health and Safety was chosen as a cornerstone for Torresol Energy when it first started out in 2008, and it has remained so since then. Alongside people, quality, and respect for the environment, safety constitutes one of the company’s four corporate values. Specifically, in its Commitment to Health and Safety, Torresol Energy’s Management explicitly establishes “excellence in Health and Safety as a priority and highly strategic objective in all our activities, from early planning through to the operating phase.”

For this reason, Operation and Maintenance (O&M) work in plants share the same corporate culture. This is reflected in the group’s subsidiary that is in charge of this work, Torresol O&M, which team has registered zero accident record since operations began on the company’s three thermosolar plants. Gemasolar started operations in 2010, with Valle 1 and Valle 2 following suit in 2011. However, the preventive culture first extended itself long beforehand. From the earliest construction stages and in the coordination and tracking meetings of the projects, safety was meticulously dealt with first and foremost. As such, from the very beginning the company used the slogan Safety First to transmit the absolute priority of adherence to corporate safety protocols.

The industry’s best practice

In this sense, ever since beginning the construction works, Torresol Energy’s Management wanted to incorporate the industry’s best practice. For this reason, the safety procedures and management tools were designed from the start to gain certification under international specification OHSAS 18001:2007 (occupational health and safety) and international standard ISO 14001:2004 (environmental management systems). These were obtained in 2012 and 2013 in all of its plants and also in Torresol O&M. Additionally, tools and techniques were incorporated such as LOTO (Lock-Out, Tag-Out), a procedure for identifying and blocking de-energized systems which makes accidental reactivation impossible. Use of this system is widespread in high-risk industrial plants (e.g. refineries) and guarantees the maximum level of safety.

Currently, Gemasolar, Valle 1 and Valle 2 operate through a system of issuing work permits, which is coordinated by the Operations team and the Health, Safety and Environment Manager, a first-level organization role filled at all of Torresol Energy’s plants. Besides, the Torresol O&M team receive training in health and safety, emergency response and environmental matters. This training is updated every year and complemented by periodic simulations (drills) in which the local emergency services at each plant usually collaborate (fire fighters department, law enforcement, emergency medical personnel, etc.).

Supervision and spreading of the safety culture

At the same time, the Management of Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) carries out constant supervision, including regular meetings at different levels (at individual plants, throughout all of Torresol Energy, and also with external personnel working at the facilities). The Management endeavors to stay informed about the latest innovations and advances in the area of safety and environment, and to update and improve existing protocols. The overall goal is to maintain and prolong the zero accident record. Continual improvement is a premise that is actively sought after by Torresol Energy, as it allows the whole Operation and Maintenance team to prepare for and take on new challenges.

In a similar vein, efforts are made to spread this culture of safety beyond the limits of Torresol Energy’s team of professionals. An HSE coordination protocol exists to involve all companies it works with. The aim is to instill the safety procedures in partners and suppliers, and, most importantly, in subcontractors who also operate at the facilities.

This continual safety effort, both by Torresol Energy personnel and by external people who contribute daily to the operation and maintenance of its plants, has an invaluable reward: zero serious accidents since the start of operations. An excellent record that Torresol Energy intends to maintain... and improve.

Gallery

Torresol O&M Safety Station at the Gemasolar plant. Work permits paperwork at Torresol Energy. Safety equipment available. An operator from Torresol O&M during an inspection at the plants.

Copyright SENER 2020