Process Safety Management

The following articles provide information to do with the management of process facilities.

Prestartup (Safety) Reviews

The purpose of a PreStartup Review (PSR) is to ensure that initial start-ups, or start-ups following major project work, proceed safely and smoothly. Alternative names for the same activity are PreStartup Safety Review (PSSR) and Operational Readiness Review. As with most process safety activities a PSR will generally be performed by a small team made up of representatives from operations, maintenance, engineering, and safety. This eight minute video provides an overview of the topic.

Event Tree Analysis

​This seven minute video describes the topic of Event Tree Analysis (ETA); It is an example of inductive analysis. The video uses the same logical and mathematical techniques as Fault Tree Analysis. However, whereas a fault tree analyzes how an undesirable top event may occur, an event tree considers the impact of the failure of a particular component or item in the system, and works out the effect such a failure will have on the overall system risk or reliability. Event trees use an inductive approach, whereas fault trees are deductive.

Fault Tree Analysis

Risk can be analyzed in one of two basic ways: inductively or deductively, that is either bottom-up or top-down. In a deductive analysis a system failure is postulated. The analyst then works backwards to deduce what combinations of events could have occurred for the system failure to have taken place (a detective solving a crime is thinking deductively). Fault tree analysis, the topic discussed in this section, is deductive. An inductive analysis works in the other direction. A single failure, such as a pump stopping or a valve closing at the wrong time, is postulated.

Two Too Many Common Causes

We write the occasional article to do with lessons to be learned from the on-going, slow motion crisis at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan. The intent is to look at events such as this through process safety management eyes to see what lessons we can learn and possibly to come up with insights that can help the managers who are trying to cope with this situation.


“But we’re different, you know”

During the course of my career I have had the opportunity and privilege of working in many different sections of the energy and process industries. And wherever I have worked the refrain has always been, “But we’re different, you know”. What the speaker is saying is that his or her particular industry is so special that the professionals in it have little to learn from other industries regarding process safety.

That would be telling

The Kletz Legacy

One of the founders of the process safety discipline was Trevor Kletz (1922-2013). Probably his best eulogy is also the simplest, "He saved lives."

As we reflect on Trevor's contributions it is clear that one of his greatest gifts was that of telling stories. He wrote extensively on technical topics such as hazards analysis and inherent safety, but he is probably best remembered for his story-telling books such as Learning from Accidents and What Went Wrong? Human beings learn best from stories and Trevor knew it.

Risky Matrices

Risk matrices are widely used in the process industries. Details vary considerably from company to company, particularly with regard to the size of the matrices, but generally a process such as the following is used.

1. A hazard is identified.

2. The consequence of that hazard is determined. The most important consequence is usually do with safety, but environmental, economic and public relations impact can also be considered.

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