Many of the publications that we offer are to do with the topic of Process Safety Management (PSM), or with related topics such as the offshore Safety and Environmental Management System (SEMS) and Safety Cases. An overview of the topic of Process Safety Management is provided in the articles of this topic.
Process Safety Management (PSM) is not new; indeed it has always been an integral part of the process industries. (If it has to have a start date then the explosion at the Flixborough plant in the year 1974 is probably a good choice — which is why the picture at the top of this page is from that disaster.) Companies have always carried out activities such as the writing of procedures, planning for emergencies, training of operators and the investigation of incidents. But it was in the late 1980s and early 1990s that PSM programs became more formalized and regulated. In the United States the key regulation was 29 CFR 1910.119, Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals, from OSHA (the Occupational Safety & Health Administration), introduced in the year 1992. This regulation served as a model for PSM programs in many other nations and for internal programs developed by many large energy and process companies.
The Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS 2007b) provides guidance as to what constitutes a PSM event.
- It must involve a chemical or have chemical process involvement;
- It must be above a minimum reporting threshold;
- It must occur at a process location; and
- The release must be acute, i.e., it must occur over a short period of time.