Process Safety Management

[google-translator]Process Safety is about preventing major accidents in which hazardous substances are involved – or substances at hazardous conditions, e.g. steam. Examples of process safety accidents are explosion, fire, release of toxic gases. Ensuring process safety requires a holistic, integrated, multidisciplinary and multi-layered approach: simply relying on the operator to stay safe is not enough given the complexity of modern-day plants.

Many Process Safety System (PSM) approaches, including those of AIChE/CCPS and the European Seveso Directive require a similar approach, consisting of the following elements (this is the AIChE template):

Commit to Process Safety

  • Process Safety Culture: a set of group values and norms, together with strong, visible and credible leadership.
  • Compliance with Standards: Internal and external rules and regulations are known and disseminated.
  • Process Safety Competency: The organization knows how to develop, improve and collect knowledge, to learn continuously and to anchor lessons learnt in a collective memory.
  • Stakeholder Outreach: The company knows its stakeholders and has a proactive policy of involving them in relevant issues.

Understand Hazards and Risks

  • Process Knowledge Management: Process knowledge documentation (e.g. drawings, manuals etc.) is complete, up-to-date, accurate and available and accessible to all users.
  • Hazard Identification and Risk Analysis: Process hazards are systematically identified and risks assessed and evaluated against company criteria. Improvements are implemented as necessary.

Manage Risks

  • Operating Procedures: Written operating instructions are developed, updated and used for normal operations and foreseeable routine and non-routine jobs.
  • Safe Work Practices: A system that ensures safe execution of special jobs, such as Permit to Work, Lockout-Tagout, enclosed space entry etc.
  • Asset Integrity and Reliability: Assuring that equipment stays fit-for-purpose during its entire life cycle. This involves equipment design, fabrication, installation, inspection, tests, maintenance, demolition and related QA processes such as calibration and training.
  • Contractor Management: Contractors have an active role in the safety performance of the company. This involves contractor prequalification, selection and personnel training.
  • Training and Performance Assurance: A training program based on personal job/task analyses and gaps, development, organization and execution of training including examination and evaluation.
  • Management of Change: A formal review and authorization process on technical, procedural and organizational changes. MoC also involves updating of documentation and briefing of personnel. Defining “what is a change” is essential.
  • Operational Readiness; Ensuring that shut down equipment is safe to start up, e.g. with a pre-startup safety review,
  • Conduct of Operations: All tasks (operational and management) are executed in a careful, structured and disciplined way. There is a clear organization structure with responsibilities and accountabilities defined.
  • Emergency Management: Emergency Response plans (including external communication) are developed, trained and continuously improved. All personnel (including contractors and third parties) know how to respond to emergencies and take shelter.

Learn from Experience

  • Incident Investigation: Incidents are reported and investigated. The investigation is aimed at the immediate and underlying (organizational) causes. Resources are available, results are disseminated, documented and followed up.
  • Measurements and Metrics: There is a system of leading and lagging indicators to monitor and improve the effectiveness of the PSM system.
  • Auditing: The PSM is regularly audited for effectiveness and consistent implementation of all elements.
  • Management Review and Continuous Improvement: Regular review at senior management level and adjustments as needed.


Implementation of all PSM elements should be carried out using a risk-based approach with respect to the rigor and completeness. Priority should be given to those elements that have the largest impact on process safety. Important steps necessary for implementation are the following:

  • Obtain management commitment and support. Appoint a senior (operational) line manager as sponsor and champion
  • Appoint a project team
  • Define scope and goals for the PSM implementation project including a realistic planning
  • Start with those elements that result in the highest risk reduction. Picking low-hanging fruit boosts morale.
  • Ensure effective communication to all stakeholders

Krypton Consulting can assist you in optimizing your Process Safety Management System. Please contact us.