In November 2019 HFL Consulting was acquired by SLR, a global leader in environmental and advisory solutions.

SLR has a team of over 1800 professionals delivering advice and support from a network of offices across Europe, Asia-Pacific, Africa, Canada, the USA and Latin America. Our expanded service offering means we can provide a unique blend of leadership, management, consulting, engineering and training services to businesses of all sizes across the process and allied industries. We can draw on many more ‘in house’ skills and services, including process, civil and structural engineering, environmental permitting and compliance, air quality, flood risk, ecology, acoustics and wastewater treatment.

HFL Consulting (now part of SLR)

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Process Safety Management (and specifically asset integrity management) is one of the HSE’s foremost ‘hop topics’ for high hazard sites but, in general, industry’s approach to it has been very disjointed. In order to address this, HFL Consulting together with the Chemical Industries Association (CIA) embarked on the first ever PSM benchmarking programme for the UK chemical industry.

The aim of the programme, which was carried out with the knowledge and support of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), was to share experience between companies, find commonality and help sites to strike a practical balance between aspirations, standards and reality.

The Challenge

Understanding degradation of Risk Control Systems

Put simply, Process Safety Management is making sure that the reality of plant operations and maintenance is the same as the design intent at all times. It is about getting it right first time and ensuring that it is always right. PSM therefore requires an organisation to consistently perform in the following areas by:

  • Defining acceptable operating envelopes for the process
  • Maintaining the process conditions within these envelopes
  • Understanding the impact of excursions
  • Maintaining and testing equipment and preventive and protective devices
  • Ensuring rigorous compliance with procedures
  • Ensuring professional management of change processes are used

PSM can therefore be thought of as a high integrity management system focussed on the critical plant and equipment.

Asset integrity management is a key Risk Control System

The Solution

  • 01

Benchmarking Asset Integrity Management

Since PSM covers such a complex set of issues, this initial benchmarking exercise focused on Asset Integrity Management, a critical risk control system in the prevention of major accidents.

Key Services

Process Safety Management Systems

Benchmarking – Asset Integrity Management

Assessments were undertaken using HFL Consulting's INSIGHT Lifecycle auditing and assessment tool. This is a database driven expert system designed to quickly pinpoint areas for improvement and allows all PSM elements to be examined independently.

Process Safety Management Systems

Understanding the Gaps

Based around CCPS and COMAH guidelines, questions were posed to cross functional teams of managers and supervisors from each participating site to ensure that all aspects of the operation were covered.

Bespoke Programmes

Training and Workshops

After undertaking an intensive one day assessment centred on asset integrity management, each company was given individual confidential feedback on the findings, conclusions and suggested areas for improvement for their site.

The Results

Greater involvement from the top can provide clarity on what needs to be done, where and when, in accordance with budgets.

The programme revealed some encouraging results in relation to the technical aspects of asset integrity management but it also highlighted some leadership and management issues:

  • Companies allow themselves to be regulated into rather than setting out their own programmes of testing and inspection, indicated by a general lack of policies and associated audit and review processes covering asset integrity
  • There is an over reliance on engineers to identify, prioritise and address problems without clear direction from the top
  • Clear direction is needed with regard to identification of critical equipment
  • More attention needs to be given to assessment of degradation mechanisms
  • A systems based approach is not always used to capture all components within high risk process systems, including critical spares
  • The rationale for including or excluding structures, secondary and tertiary containment systems, and medium and lower risk process systems is not always understood
  1. 01
    The technical aspects of Asset Integrity Management brought the highest scores, indicating a clear understanding of the problem
  2. 02
    Compliance with prescriptive legislation and standards was good across all companies (e.g. PSSR and standards for Safety Instrumented Systems)
  3. 03
    Procedures were strong in Design, Inspection, Mechanical and C&I Maintenance
  4. 04
    High scores in Maintenance Planning, Management of Change and Failure Reporting, indicating a desire to improve

The Chemical Industries Association fully supports the benchmarking and audit programme. Businesses managing major hazard potential have to appreciate that the hazardous substances they store represent their highest business risks, and need to be sure they have effective systems to manage those risks. The process safety leadership and management elements of the benchmarking programme cover all these aspects, and CIA member companies tell us they like the benchmarking approach so that they can see where they may need to improve in relation to other businesses – so the programme meets industry needs on a number of levels.

Phil Scott, Safety and Risk Policy Manager, Chemical Industries Association

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