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Emerging Out of COVID-19, Restarting Facilities May Carry Serious Risks

June 21, 2021 Leave a comment DRI Admin

As organizations start bringing employees back to work in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, one big risk question you should ask is: can your facilities handle it?

Because the pandemic led to budget cuts and mothballed facilities for businesses like oilfield services, restarting suspended operations could be the greatest risks for property and specialty lines, according to a recent Swiss Re report. Heightened accident risks – such as fires, explosions, spills, or toxic releases – could lead to large liability claims if facility start-ups are rushed.

Why such dangers? Three potential risk factors:

  • Ongoing maintenance by qualified staffers is required for facilities to operate safely – something that may have been ignored during the ongoing shutdowns
  • Lack of availability of contractors, equipment and/or materials during the pandemic could put additional pressure on inspections and maintenance to be done too quickly, and
  • Generally speaking, the restart phase of a mothballed facility carries the most acute risks – for the chemical and petrochemical industries, 40-50% of process safety incidents occur after infrequent events like an extended period of shutdown.

As businesses make their way back to pre-pandemic operations, this is an important reminder that building back without careful planning could create a whole new series of costly problems.

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