GCAP is taking it to the streets…

Founded in 2003, Garden City Ammonia Program is the largest privately owned Ammonia Technical Training Program, training over 1,900 students a year with alumni representing 16 countries and over 800 companies. While GCAP has always offered its four day courses in Ammonia Operations and Process Safety Management at its facility and on-site for their customers, 2013 has seen a dramatic change in their operations as they reach out to assist their customers in complying with OSHA’s PSM and the EPA’s RMP programs.

In 2011 GCAP filed thousands of Federal Freedom of Information Act requests to OSHA and the EPA for Process Safety Management and Risk Management Program citations including the inspection narratives and supporting videos and pictures. This information was put into a database and used to completely re-imagine the long popular PSM course offered at the school. Starting in 2012 the course has been taught using an exclusive 500 page manual written entirely by GCAP staff.

The manual, entitled “Implementing Process Safety Management for Ammonia Refrigeration Systems,” combines industry best practices with the best available guidance from the IIAR, the Center for Chemical Process Safety, thousands of OSHA and EPA citations and the unparalleled experience of their students implementing in the field. Everyone here is trying to make every course, every lecture, and every example a little bit better than the last one. It’s not a quick process and often you don’t even realize how much progress you are making until a student points out how much things have changed and improved since their last visit. We believe we are the best in the world in what we do, but we also know we have to constantly improve to stay that way.”

One of the issues that all professional instructors face is that to be an instructor means you essentially are taken out of the industry to some degree. For this reason, GCAP instructors visit dozens of facilities each year to share experiences and learn from those working on and with Ammonia systems and Process Safety programs on a daily basis. Over the last year, GCAP has been traveling the country providing compliance audits, PHA leaders and SOP writing services to support those that have taken their PSM and NEP courses.

Josh Latovich, Process Safety Support Specialist and Instructor at GCAP says “We know when we visit a facility to assist them we are leaving good ideas, but what’s really great is the quality of ideas we’re picking up and taking back with us. The problems we find in the industry are very similar and often we’ve seen the issue addressed a half-dozen ways and can offer guidance on which approach is most likely to work in that situation. We’re in a unique position at GCAP to share great PSM practices and ideas from around the country.”  “PSM isn’t just a regulatory burden; it’s a way of doing things.  That way has to be compliant with the law but it also has to meet the needs of the facility. You need a different approach depending on the work being done, the skill level of the staff, etc. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to PSM and anyone telling you different doesn’t adequately understand the program.”

Over the past year GCAP has visited over 50 facilities assisting them with their Process Safety Programs and these experiences are often used to revise and improve the example PSM program that students who take GCAP’s PSM class are given on a companion CD. “The SOP format we’re using for example is excellent. It was good a year ago, it’s great now and it will be even better next year,” said Brian, “We’re constantly improving. The process never stops.”

Managing Director Jeremy Williams has steered this expansion of GCAP’s services to support alumni of the program. “We realized there was a need. Especially after we saw the results of the FOIA citations – the advice our students were getting from consultants in the field was leaving them exposed to citations. We couldn’t just sit by and watch this happen.”

“The process never stops” has become the mantra of the GCAP Process Safety team and big changes are indeed occurring at GCAP’s facility in Garden City, Kansas. Earlier this year ground was broken on a three million dollar expansion behind their existing facility. The facility will house a 13 compressor Ammonia system, a brand new state-of-the-art classroom and additional office space for the GCAP compliance team. It will also house the “John Randall Williams Institute for Excellence in Ammonia Process Safety,” the first program in the world dedicated specifically to Ammonia Process Safety.

GCAP’s CEO, Randy Williams stated, “We’re collecting some of the best minds in the industry to assist us on the board of the institute. The industry needs this. We’ve been getting this feedback for years and we’re finally in a position to do something about it. The IIAR is the best place to get guidance on the refrigeration design itself; RETA is there for the operator, but the only organization out there to really help the PSM practitioner is the CCPS. Frankly, they have some good ideas, but they are a product of the chemical industries and we need something closer to what we actually do in Ammonia Refrigeration. That’s why we’re doing this – the Ammonia industry deserves better than hand-me-down guidance.”

“This isn’t some intellectual exercise for us. We’ve implemented PSM, both as operators and as managers of programs. This also isn’t just how we feel it should be done, it’s what the citations and experience of our students are telling us how it *needs* to be done. We’re big believers in going with what works. Let’s leave the theory to the college crowd – our work in the industry demands results and that’s what we are here to provide.”

“We’re always trying to meet the needs of our customers in new ways,” said Jeremy, “That’s why we’ve improved the PSM and NEP class. It’s why we now provide a Spanish language Operator class based on the Spanish RETA books. It’s why we’ve added our CO2 refrigeration class and offered our combined Operator 1 and Operator 2 classes in seven day boot camps. The customer tells us what they need and we do our level best to provide it.”

GCAP has scheduled a dozen on-site PSM classes throughout the country over the first half of 2014 to bring their PSM message from Garden City, Kansas to a classroom near you. For more information on GCAP’s PSM compliance services and classes, or for any of your Ammonia training needs, go to www.ammoniatraining.com

Here is the last PSM/RMP class comments:

“…depth and detail in explaining not only what PSM was but how to use it to your advantage. …provides a solid example of PSM which can help me implement my own at the facility”

“I thought so much of the class I plan on sending all of our senior operators to it.”

“Government rhetoric was put in human terms.”

“…taught at a level anyone can understand.”

“Involvement and interaction in the lessons – not just lectures”

“…learned a lot about a topic I thought was going to be dull.”

“Don’t ever change – you have the best training programs and classrooms of any place I’ve trained at.”