A safe and successful maintenance turnaround requires months – or years – of meticulous planning.

But when should EHS professionals get involved?

The answer, Rusty Smith told attendees at the 2013 National VPPPA Conference in Nashville, is immediately after the last turnaround, "when you're getting ready for the next one."

"As soon as your group starts planning for the next turnaround, safety needs to be there with them," said Smith, who is turnaround safety coordinator for Marathon Petroleum LP in Detroit.

Smith emphasized the importance of safety collaborating with maintenance and operations during the planning process and throughout the turnaround. Together, the three departments form what he calls the "turnaround safety triangle."

"All three of them have to work together to be successful," Smith said.