Barama needs to revisit whatever safety measures they currently have in place
I read and have listened to various accounts of who is to be blamed for damage to a boiler at the Barama Plywood Factory. My initial response upon hearing of the company casting blame on the workers was that, “they must be joking”.
October 24th, in your letter column, I read of the company’s version, and in that account I noted again that employees were blamed.
Mr. Editor, my intention in penning this letter is to objectively give my two cents worth in highlighting the fundamentals with regard to the responsibility, operation and maintenance of a piece of equipment.
In my opinion, the boiler being at the heart of Barama’s operation, as mentioned by the company has to be categorized as a ‘critical’ piece of equipment.
As such its continued functioning must be paramount in the mindset of the company’s managers, engineering and general staff.
Two options existed for Barama, (1) have a standby boiler or (2) optimize engineering to safeguard and prevent as far as is practically possible, any initial malfunctioning which could give rise to a more serious, or catastrophic failure. The latter would have been more economically feasible.
Accordingly, the primary reason for the boiler’s damage was careless employees, who did not ensure the boiler was fed with the required water supply, which subsequently lead to overheating of the boiler.
Notwithstanding that statement, Barama has also stated that, “the system’s safety alarm was activated, triggering an emergency shutdown of the boiler system.
This timely intervention prevented a catastrophe that could have compromised the safety of our employees. Unfortunately, the damage to the boiler system was already done by this time”.
Mr. Editor I hold a different view. It is not the employees who are to be blamed. Barama has admitted to a system being in place to prevent such damage.
The question they should be asking is why the duration of time before the systems’ safety alarm was activated.
The objective in their safety system ought to have been to prevent damage period, not to allow some damage and then prevent further or more serious damage, as is Barama’s claim. In this regard I think Barama’s management failed itself and its employees.
Further, the addition of water should be automatic and electronically monitored. From an engineering point of view, there should have been an interlocking feature between the level of water and the heaters.
The heaters must not be energized unless the required level of water is attained.
One gets the impression that the boilers water temperature was monitored; however, they should have been monitoring water flow as well as level.
Should this boiler be repaired, or another is installed at Barama’s operation I wish to strongly suggest that they revisit whatever safety measures they currently have in place, with a view to optimizing this and making it technically sound.
Finally I wish to acknowledge the position taken by his Excellency, President Bharrat Jagdeo, on the relief to the affected employees, and on Barama’s tax concession.