A risk-based approach to process safety makes (dollars and) sense

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Courtesy of ABS Consulting

Process safety practices and formal safety management systems have been in place in some companies for many years. Process safety management is widely credited for reductions in major accident risk and in improved chemical industry performance. Unfortunately, traditional process safety management programs are typically based on implementing a standard set of requirements that, in some situations, may not be enough to adequately manage risk, while in other cases may cause them to “overwork” process safety. To promote process safety management excellence and continuous improvement throughout industry, the Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS) created risk-based
process safety as the framework for the next generation of process safety management. This approach encourages companies to “consider the risk” when making decisions on how to apply its resources (while of course, continuing to comply with applicable regulatory requirements). It is possible that a company may not be focusing on the right things, or that it is not doing the necessary things well. Even if the results are satisfactory, resources may be wasted on some tasks that could be done more efficiently or tasks that should not be done at all. The Center for Chemical Process Safety’s newly published book titled “Guidelines for Risk Based Process Safety” or “RBPS Guidelines,” advocates that process safety management systems should be built on four accident prevention pillars: commitment to process safety, understand hazards and risk, manage risk, and learn from experience. Authentic commitment to process safety is
the cornerstone of process safety excellence. Management commitment has no substitute. Organizations generally do not improve without strong leadership and solid commitment. The entire organization must make the same commitment. A work force that is convinced that the organization fully supports safety as a core value will tend to do the right things, in the right ways, at the right times, even when no one is looking.
Organizations that understand hazards and risk are better able to allocate limited resources in the most effective manner.

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