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In the process industries, loss of containment of hazardous materials or energy arguably poses the single biggest business risk because in the worst-case scenarios, where loss of life or widespread destruction of the environment occurs, the social and financial impacts can be devastating. Good process safety management should therefore be seen as a way of protecting the business.

There are multiple reasons why major accidents happen. Although the immediate causes might be due to equipment malfunctions or errors made by frontline staff, investigations have shown that the underlying causes are usually rooted in poor policy, lack of direction and gaps in the deployment of essential underpinning safety procedures. This fact was underlined by the PSLG when, following publication of the findings of the Buncefield Major Incident Investigation Board, they issued their own guiding principles for process safety leadership.

But the process industry hasn’t been standing still. Stakeholders have been actively developing guidance and sharing knowledge, for example the HSE has published an array of guidance, which is freely available on its website, and the UK trade associations have developed sector specific guidance for their own members.

The US Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS) has also published extensive guidance in the Guidelines for Risk Based Process Safety and related documents. The guidelines reflect on nearly 20 years of process safety management implementation experience, best practices from industry, and requirements of different regulatory regimes.   This and the Energy Institute’s High Level Framework for Process Safety Management cover compliance, workforce and stakeholder engagement, risk assessment, risk control systems, and learning from experience.

So how do we know if what we are doing is good enough?

HFL Consulting’s knowledge and experience in process safety and management systems led to the development of our own auditing tool, INSIGHT Lifecycle®. This allows us to take a detailed look at practices and procedures in place within an organisation, and assess them against internationally recognised good practice guidance to see where and how improvements can best be made. The system contains a range of structured modular question sets with guidance, and allows scores to be assigned so that issues can be quickly prioritised.

Working with the CIA, with support from the HSE, we were able to use this tool to complete the  first ever PSM benchmarking programme for the UK chemical industry. The study allowed us to share experience between companies and identify common problems. Interestingly, the findings were consistent with the views of the PSLG, showing that greater involvement from the top is needed to provide clarity on what needs to be done, where and when.

HFL Consulting’s process can be used to audit or assess practices and procedures in place for:

  • Competence Management
  • Knowledge Management
  • Risk Assessment
  • Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) Design
  • Asset Integrity Management
  • Contractor Management
  • Management of Change
  • Emergency Management
  • Accident / Incident Reporting & Investigation
  • Process Safety Performance Indicators (PSPIs)

Audits and assessments can cover all 20 elements listed in the CCPS Guidelines for Risk Based Process Safety, which has proven to be highly beneficial for organisations with hazardous installations in the US, UK and Europe.

Contact HFL Consulting today and learn more about our PSM auditing services here.

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