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New Process Operator training class kicks off at the Lima Refinery

New Process Operator training class kicks off at the Lima Refinery
Process Operators at our Lima Refinery.

May 2021 - Any job employing technical, physical and in-depth safety skills requires meticulous training. At our Lima Refinery, process operator trainees, represented by United Steelworkers Local 624, undertake an eight-week training program focused on the basic building blocks of refinery process operations.

Training for the position is intensive, so process operators are normally hired in a cohort. This year, about 15 individuals make up the new class.

Before the process begins, candidates must pass background checks, drug-screens and physical agility tests. They are also expected to exemplify leadership and problem-solving skills along with an inquisitive attitude before they are accepted as trainees.

“Process operators hold key positions at the Lima Refinery,” says Claudio Ingaramo, Vice President, Lima Refining with Cenovus. “Being responsible for the operation of a highly safety-sensitive chemical and petroleum process operating area requires strong technical skills and know-how. That’s why we train operators as a cohort, to provide a good knowledge base and technical education, while testing to evaluate success in this position.”

Process operator training begins with building blocks such as tool use, physical tasks and a refinery overview but moves quickly into safety-critical information such as isolating energy, permitting, excavation, fall protection, and emergency and fire response. Subject matter experts also instruct on environmental performance, instrumentation, and the science behind valves, pumps, compressors, vessels and towers. After each instructional topic, trainees are tested and their progression in the program is determined.

“Safety is critical and safety training is foundational to the eight-week program,” says Operations Director, Dean Hempfling. “Trainees do a deep dive into our current policies and understand safety hazard identification and protocols surrounding day-to-day tasks. Operators are responsible for highly safety-sensitive chemical and petroleum process areas. It’s a highly rewarding career, but it requires significant preparation.”

The current cohort of process operator trainees begins in June, and if successful, trainees will move to four to eight weeks of unit-specific training in July 2021.