COVID affected baghouse change-out project

COVID-19 – SOLAFT Technical Services solution to COVID affected baghouse change-out project.

In early March 2020, NRG awarded SOLAFT Technical Services the contract to perform the Fabric Filter Bag Replacements for its Unit 2 outage due in June. The baghouse change-out requires replacing 8,500 filter bags under hazardous conditions that require PPE to be worn. The project was scheduled to employ an additional 26 contractors from the Gladstone region and take place over three weeks. Shortly after the contract was awarded, the Australian and Queensland Government officials implemented a number of restrictions on work practices to minimise the risk of spreading the disease. This project was placed on hold, with no estimated date on when business would be able to resume as normal.

NRG was deemed an Essential Services, and as such was required to keep operating. Filter Bags that have reached their maximum operating life start to experience performance issues and at times catastrophic failure. These performance issues and failures cause an increase in emissions, and affects the load the coal-fired power station can operate at without breaching environmental regulatory requirements. NRG’s OH&S team placed a number of initiatives to combat the risk of spreading COVID-19, including social distancing, mandatory temperature testing for all individuals prior to entry to the site, as well as restricting all non-NRG employees from accessing the site. 

Working with the NRG project team and their OH&S team, SOLAFT Technical Services proposed supplying a COVID Safe Team to implement a number of initiatives that would allow the supervised off-site contractors to perform the much-needed change-out. The proposed initiatives included providing a full time cleaning crew, creating a dedicated isolated PPE room and requesting two additional demountable crib rooms.

The dedicated isolated PPE room was to allow for respirator face fitting for all crew members in a safe sanitised environment, whilst SOLAFT identified that insufficient space was provided in the existing crib room to maintain social distancing. The COVID cleaning team would supply 4 full time staff responsible for cleaning all areas and PPE. NRG deemed the measures put in place dealt sufficiently with the risks and ordered the project to proceed as already contracted and with the proposed measures in place. In addition to the two 6m x 4m demountable crib rooms, NRG supplied a large theatre room for inductions to ensure the social distance of 2m was maintained.

The project was completed, allowing NRG to resume operations. SOLAFT now provides the new COVID Safe service to its other customers, and in conjunction with NRG was able to adapt to the challenging environment and allow off-site contractors access to the site to complete the much needed work.

“Putting these measures into place reduced the risk of disease spreading to an acceptable level, and following a risk assessment, allowed NRG to continue successfully with its planned maintenance outage” Dave Griffith – NRG Project Coordinator

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2020 GEA Industry Award – Safety Excellence Award