Behind the scenes: Maintaining safety at the Geelong Refinery

June Yew has been working in process safety for seven years. The combination of engineering, systems, processes and the human factor challenges June to translate technical safety requirements into practical solutions in the field.

In early 2016, June was one of the first to be nominated as Associate Member (Process Safety), an internationally recognised registration with the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE). In this article, she explains what life is like as Safety Process Lead at the Geelong Refinery.

Process safety is a critical part of our business. It helps us prevent incidents involving the unintentional release of energy or hazardous substances from the assets we operate. It also ensures our products remain contained within the pipes and tanks where they belong – keeping our business, people and community safe.


What we do at the Geelong Refinery

We take a systematic and disciplined approach to process safety at the Geelong Refinery. We apply the appropriate engineering designs, maintain our assets to a high standard, and comply with safe operating practices.

The Geelong Refinery and Lara LPG Terminal are classified as Major Hazard Facilities (MHF) and each requires a licence to operate. To keep the licence, Viva Energy submits a safety case to WorkSafe Victoria every five years to demonstrate that systems and processes are in place to maintain our safe operation.

WorkSafe Victoria requires us to conduct a full review of all the hazards, potential threat lines and barriers on site. First, we conduct a desktop review of the risk assessments and facilitate workshops with operations personnel to verify their accuracy. We also review safety case documents to make sure they accurately reflect the current systems and processes we use at the refinery and the Lara LPG Terminal.

It's essential that our team is diligent with the paperwork so that there is a document trail for others to easily access and understand. We clearly document any assumptions we make as part of the risk assessment or decision-making process, and reference any specific standards, processes and procedures.

Getting out from behind the desk

While a significant portion of my work is desktop analysis on the computer, it's important I get out into the field to check equipment and line-ups to get a better understanding of the scenario.

A critical component is also to work closely with various stakeholders across the business, to ensure understanding of the risk and that the proposed solution is effective and practical in reducing risk.

My team members within Process Safety and I are responsible for conducting technical analysis and risk assessments for the process hazards on our site. We identify all the potential threats and make sure there are adequate control measures to reduce the risk to as low as is reasonably practicable. These control measures include hardware equipment, systems and procedures that keep us within the safe operating limits of the plant and prevent loss of containment from occurring.

We also identify remedial actions. In other words, we introduce new control measures or make improvements to existing control measures − this includes capital project changes to the plant.

June Yew holds degrees in Chemical Engineering and Science from the University of Melbourne and a Master of Safety Risk Management from UNSW. She first became interested in safety when she was a graduate process engineer in pulp and paper operations.

Find out more about

Viva Energy's Geelong Refinery


Related Stories

Site Information