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Process safety

Manufacture, handling and use of dangerous substances and management of pressurised systems have the potential to present major hazards not only to workers but also to members of the public nearby, assets and the environment. Process safety considers how these major hazards should be assessed and controlled.

Effective process safety management should minimise accidents such as fires and explosions. Given several recent major accidents, process safety is particularly topical.

EI's process safety activities are defined and co-ordinated by its Process Safety Committee (PSC). This is a group of specialists and practitioners, which, through a programme of activities, aims to help the energy industry sectors to better understand and implement the principles of process safety to its operations, with a view to further improving its process safety performance.

Scope

PSC defines the scope of process safety for the energy industry sectors as:

Process safety is a blend of engineering and management skills focused on preventing catastrophic accidents and near misses, particularly structural collapse, explosions, fires and toxic releases associated with loss of containment of energy or dangerous substances such as chemicals and petroleum products. These engineering and management skills exceed those required for managing workplace safety
(Adapted from Center for Chemical Process Safety of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers)

Operationally, PSC's scope includes the following and similar issues that feature in current, recent or planned activities under EI's Technical Work Programme and its forward issues:

  • corrosion;
  • carbon capture and storage;
  • design;
  • fire and explosion;
  • hydrocarbon release reduction;
  • inspection;
  • management systems;
  • process plant, and
  • risk analysis.

Role

PSC's role is to help the energy industry sectors to better understand and implement to its operations the principles of process safety. PSC focuses on two aspects: safety performance improvement and good practice; and, liaison with key stakeholders, with most effort focused on the former. Operationally, PSC works at a high level; whereas, sub-groups work on detailed issues.

In its work, PSC should not duplicate the work of the many other organisations also working on process safety; where appropriate, it will work with such organisations. PSC is not a regulatory compliance ('political') forum.

Safety performance improvement and good practice

To support its mission, PSC conducts a programme of activities by:

  • Identifying needs raised by PSC members, other EI feedback, analysis of intelligence (e.g, incident statistics, gap analyses), or issues raised by its stakeholders.
  • Discussing, further defining and prioritising those needs by considering those where the PSC could add value, and where appropriate, the proposed technical development projects and consequent deliverables would benefit from a generic approach.
  • Seeking necessary funding for technical development projects in its programme of activities.
  • Providing technical input to its programme of activities.

The activities may comprise:

  • Developing resources (e.g, guidance, information bulletins, training resources, web site pages, etc.).
  • Commissioning research, e.g. as an input to developing resources.
  • Identifying key initiatives within PSC member organisations or its stakeholders that are at the forefront of improving process safety performance, with a view to further disseminating them to the energy industry sectors, possibly by converting them into generic EI resources.
  • Reviewing existing resources on a five-yearly cycle, or earlier if required by the evolution of good practice or the regulatory framework, with a view to reaffirming, updating, or withdrawing them.
  • Communicating resources, research studies, case studies, information sources, events and pertinent regulatory developments to the energy industry sectors using workshops, seminars, etc. and communication vehicles such as EI's Petroleum Review, EI's website, or direct correspondence to Primary Technical Contacts or the EI membership. 

Liaison with key stakeholders

Establishing and maintaining dialogue with key stakeholders such as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), A Step Change in Safety ('Step Change'), The International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (OGP), and The European Process Safety Centre (EPSC). In particular:

  • Contributing to the technical aspects of resource development by other stakeholders and seeking their input to PSC's activities.
  • Liaising with other pertinent EI committees.

Membership

PSC consists of about ten members from the upstream and downstream petroleum industry, broader energy industries, allied industries, and those that regulate and provide process safety services to such businesses. Members are likely to be process safety engineers or managers that are specialists or practitioners in one or more process safety issues. Members should be prepared to participate actively in PSC's work.

Membership is by invitation of the Chairperson or Secretary subject to approval by the Chairperson. Currently, the Process Safety Committee is Chaired by BP: previous Chairs have been provided by Centrica, EDF Energy and Maersk.

Further information

If you are interested in finding out more about the EI Process Safety Committee, contact Mark Scanlon (mscanlon@energyinst.org 00 44 (0) 20 7467 7129).

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