Communication Between Shifts

shiftworker-control-room

Failure to communicate between shifts at the Esso gas plant, Longford in South Eastern Victoria lead to catastrophe. 

The shift that came on at eight o’clock the night before the explosion could see that the bypass valve was set in a position which did not maximise production; so they reset it to maximise production. They weren’t aware of why the valve was in the position it was in. In fact the previous shift was aware of a critical alarm and had set the bypass valve accordingly, but there was no communication between the two shifts and the oncoming shifts didn’t understand this and simply adjusted the valve to maximise production. Professor Andrew Hopkins discusses this in the process safety video Communication Between Shifts.

The video leads to discussion during training sessions around:

  • What are some of the general causes of communication problems in shift handover? 
  • What would determine shift handover of safety critical information? 
  • What would be in a shift reporting process to ensure critical information is not lost? 

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