Process safety specialists gathered at the recent Responsible Care process safety workshops held by the Chemical and Allied Industries' Association (CAIA) in Johannesburg and Durban to share their knowledge and experience in process safety in an endeavour to prevent accidental chemical releases, explosions and fires at chemical process facilities.
Responsible Care is a global initiative by the chemical industry that assists members to improve their safety, health and environmental (SHE) performance. Commitment to Responsible Care enables companies to gain a competitive advantage for SHE performance while reducing operational costs and risks and ensuring asset integrity in the long-term.
Louise Lindeque, Responsible Care Manager opened the Process Safety workshop and explained that "We need to be in control of our operations. There needs to be great emphasis on key systems to ensure we manage plants and safety critical equipment properly." She explained that "Process Safety is an important component of Responsible Care. CAIA recognizes the importance of encouraging dialogue around issues pertaining to Process Safety Management (PSM) and therefore facilitates two process safety workshops annually, one in Durban and one in Johannesburg. It is vital that process safety practitioners share experiences and learning's on best practice and encourage each other to comply with best process safety standards" says Lindeque.
While many of the presentations focused on sharing technical knowledge, experience and expertise, the overall theme of the workshops was to emphasize the fact that a risk-based Process Safety Management (PSM) system is essential in preventing process safety incidents. The first part of the workshop focused on selected elements of risk based process safety whilst the second part of the workshop emphasized safe work practices.
Keatlaretse Thlapane- Safety Manager, Environmental, Systems & Compliance Specialist, NCP Chlorchem presented a process safety moment focusing on "Risk of Failure of Critical Controls". She focused her presentation around the Bhopal Disaster, one of the worlds worst industrial catastrophes and explained that on the day of the incident, all layers of protection had failed. She reiterated that robust safety systems are critical when handling hazardous chemicals and that we need to understand the reactivity hazards of all materials in our process, understand operating procedures and be knowledgeable about why safety systems are in place and how they work.
Francois Holtzhausen- Chairperson of the Responsible Care Gauteng Process Safety Forum - informed attendees of the Process Hazard Analysis (PHA). He explained that PHA is the core of our process safety effort as identifying and understanding the hazard will allow one to translate the hazard into risk so that either generic or specific controls can be developed. He explained that 7 HAZOP (Hazard and Operability analysis) study stages can be used in hazard identification to identify all possible scenarios that could cause safety, operational and environmental incidents and to check if the design adequately addresses these possibilities. He shared that in order for the risks identified to be mitigated to an acceptable level, a Layer of Protection Analysis (LOPA) should be undertaken.
Mike Rose, owner of Clova Business Solutions illustrated that process safety information applicable to the hazards of the chemicals in the process, the process technology and the process equipment should be available at all times. Nigel Coni, Process Safety Consultant, ISHECON cc shared tools on how to measure the effectiveness of a Process Safety Management System and its implementation while Chaman Prem, Process Safety Advisor at Sasol explained the importance of identifying hazards by plant inspection.
Other speakers presented on topics that included Confined Space Entry and Permit to Work. Information and guidance were supplied to persons who manage or enter confined spaces and to those who may be required to engage in rescue or recovery operations. Factors that make a Permit to Work System- a formal system implemented to control certain types of risks posed by potentially highly hazardous work- successful were shared with the workshop delegates.
The workshop was concluded by an interactive session on an important Process Safety incident where reactive chemicals were involved. The root causes and possible preventative actions of the thermal decomposition explosion at the BP Amoco Polymer Plant in Augusta Georgia were discussed and facilitated by Gary Cundill- Group Technical and SHE Manager, AECI.
Process Safety Management (PSM) is one of the foundations of Responsible Care. A robust PSM program will assist companies to reduce risk and avoid loss resulting from the unintentional release of toxic, reactive, or flammable liquids and gases in processes involving highly hazardous chemicals. It also has industry-wide benefits as an incident at an unrelated company negatively affects the public's perception of the entire chemical industry.
For more information contact Louise Lindeque at email: email@example.com.