Risk management in the process and energy industries

Risk analysis and management lie at the heart of any effective safety management program. Given the enormous number of hazards that exist in any energy or process facility, it is vital to develop a program for understanding which of those risk are the most critical. The articles and safety moments shown below provide guidance on this important topic.There is a near-infinite number of events that can occur — some method is needed for understanding how each of them contributes to overall risk.

Articles, safety moments and other publications to do with the analysis and management of risk are provided below.

Copyright © Ian Sutton. 2020. All Rights Reserved.

Safety Moment #62: From Complicated to Complex

In any performance-based program such as process safety, the work is never finished — there is always room for improvement. Nevertheless, the developments that are being made are mostly to do with improving existing programs or techniques. For example, the hazards analysis technique LOPA (Layers of Protection Analysis) has seen widespread application in recent years. Yet it is basically a development of the well-established Fault Tree and Event Tree techniques.

Safety Moment #56: Sinking Standards / Accountants Rule the Waves

This month is the 30 year anniversary of the Piper Alpha disaster. And, as to be expected, many people have published articles, blogs and web pages to do with that event, and the lessons that it continues to teach us. But there is an earlier maritime event which probably had a greater impact in its day than did Piper Alpha in ours. And that event was the sinking of the Titanic. (The image at the head of this post is actually of the Great Eastern, for reasons we discuss below.)

Lowest Level of Risk (BSEE)

Overview (BSEE Risk)

As part of its Well Control Rule BSEE appears to have made a major change in the manner in which offshore risk is to be managed. Section 250.107(a)(3) states,

[y]ou must protect health, safety, property and the environment by utilizing recognized engineering practices that reduce risks to the lowest level practicable when conducting design, fabrication, installation, operation, inspection, repair, and maintenance activities.

Event Tree Analysis

Overview

Event Tree Analysis (ETA) 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. Event trees were developed for the nuclear industry. They are much less widely used in the process industries.

Hard Times for Culture Change

There has been much discussion in recent years as to how to develop new and improved cultures within the process industries. There appears to be an implicit assumption in these discussions that ours is the first generation to wrestle with the problem of creating a new culture. Nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, it can be instructive to examine how previous generations affected cultural change with respect to industrial safety and environmental performance, and to consider how their techniques and approaches may apply to our times.