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Chemical Industry Risks During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Chemical Industry Risks During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Chemical Industry Risks during the Covid-19 Pandemic - The activities and operations of the chemical industry cannot be avoided from various forms of risk that have fatal consequences. To minimize the emergence of potential losses for the company, comprehensive efforts are required to prevent and overcome these hazards.

Following the mandate of Law Number 3 of 2014 concerning Industry, it has been stated that industrial companies are obliged to guarantee the safety and security of tools, processes, production, storage, and transportation or transportation. 

And in connection with the condition of the Covid-19 pandemic which has not yet ended and extreme temperatures and the threat of natural disasters, it is necessary to increase vigilance surveillance, detection of potential risks, and rapid response to emergencies of hazardous chemicals sourced from various chemical industries.

Enforcement of the above Law is then followed up by the issuance of Regulation of the Minister of Industry No. 19 of 2019 concerning the Prevention and Management of Chemical Emergencies in the Chemical Industry Business Activities. 

As a follow-up to the regulation, the Center for Chemistry and Packaging, which is one of the work units under the Ministry of Industry, was assigned tasks related to chemical management in industry and proper chemical management based on their hazardous properties.

Management of hazardous chemicals as an effort to work safety and health as well as environmental protection cannot be separated from human life. This is a very important aspect and needs serious attention. This could even be a factor in increasing the competitiveness of national industries in global competition.

In extreme weather conditions and during the Covid-19 pandemic, the aspects of warehousing and loading and unloading of industrial raw materials experienced significant difficulties and obstacles. 

According to regulations, the storage of chemicals for the manufacture of products should not be arbitrary. Moreover, the need for reactive chemicals worldwide is quite large. Like ammonium nitrate, it is widely used in the fertilizer industry, mining, and construction businesses.

Reactive chemicals are categorized as substances that can self-react or polymerize to produce fire or toxic gases when there is a change in pressure or temperature, friction, or contact with moisture. For example, flammable solids that are reactive to water.

Until now, the problem of warehousing reactive chemicals is still complicated and costly. Not to mention the problem of expired chemicals and damaged packaging. This problem can cause big losses for entrepreneurs.

Warehouse Management System

If the above conditions are left for a long time, the model can occur like the big explosion in Beirut some time ago.

Technology and chemical warehousing procedures are quite complicated, expensive, and a big risk. From the science of industrial management, it is stated that the decrease in the number of chemicals stored in the fertilizer factory warehouse can reach 27% of the total inventory, while the amount of B3 waste generation decreases by 70% after management.

Management of expired materials must be carried out by following the incompatibility principle so that the threat of contamination can be minimized. For this reason, it is necessary to make continuous improvements to the standard operating procedure (SOP) for planning, receiving materials, to warehouse audits so that the prevention of hazards and pollution cases can be done from the start.

The warehousing of reactive chemicals requires strict standards and procedures. Therefore, several related companies usually leave the above matters to other companies that are more skilled and competent and have more qualified technology and human resources.

In Indonesia, for example, mining companies will usually hand over the handling of reactive chemicals for explosives to PT Pindad (Persero), because one of PT Pindad's business lines is commercial explosives.

The expertise and experience of Pindad's human resources in the field of weapons and explosives has made Pindad develop its products and services which are accommodated by the Mining Service Division. Since 1991, Pindad has been producing commercial explosives.

The same thing is done in the warehouse, which is an important part of the operational activities of a company. Warehouse management in a company needs to be considered and managed properly. 

The factor that causes warehouse management to be less than optimal is the lack of attention to material layout management. This is due to the complicated placement of the material in its place. The result is a warehouse that should be able to accommodate more material to be less.

Storage of reactive chemicals in warehouses is usually done with special procedures and appropriate containers. Reactive chemicals are usually classified into pyrophoric, explosive, then peroxide-forming, and water-reactive chemicals.

Pyrophoric materials are materials that burn when in contact with air at temperatures less than 54 degrees Celsius. Pyrophoric chemicals exist in the form of solids such as phosphorus, liquids such as tributyl aluminum, or gases such as silane. Pyrophoric materials should be stored in a flammable cabinet separately from flammable fluids and combustible fluids.

The elemental phosphorus must be stored and cut in water. Likewise, silane gas must be specially stored. Meanwhile, explosive materials are materials that can cause an explosion caused by the rapid decomposition of the material and result in the release of energy in the form of heat, fire, and high-pressure changes.

The devastating explosion that rocked Beirut not long ago has become a valuable lesson for our country about the importance of reforming regulations and standards for the treatment of dangerous industrial materials.

Industries and mining businesses that use ammonium nitrate usually have storage warehouses with special standards and must be closely monitored by technical officers together with security forces for 24 hours nonstop.

Until now, occupational safety has become an important agenda for the world labor organization (ILO). The world organization recommends that work safety be obeyed by all countries.

Cases of fire at factories or industrial areas are still common. The condition is increasingly risky due to global climate change, natural disasters, to the threat of terrorism or mass riots that affect the existence of industrial infrastructure. 

Extreme weather and unpredictable seasons also cause serious disruption to the physical condition of warehousing buildings and equipment. Unfortunately, the above disorders often go unnoticed and have fatal consequences.


Adapted from Totok Siswantara's writing (With some adjustments)

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