ABB - Process safety management

Traditionally, process safety management received less attention than personal or' occupational safety. Phil Eames, principal consultant for ABB, explains to Rhian Owen' the benefits for operations managers, senior process engineers and safety specialists' of deploying an effective safety system within an organisation.


Rhian Owen: ABB helps companies in an array of sectors to' improve their management of process safety, but what are the' challenges the pharmaceutical industry faces?

Phil Eames: Manufacturing active pharmaceutical intermediates' generally involves a large number of chemical components,' including very toxic chemicals. Manufacturing processes usually' require the extensive use of large quantities of flammable solvents' and manufacturing sites employ a diverse portfolio of processes' and chemistry types. Many of these processes involve complex' reactions and flammable dusts that require extensive experimental' work to define their hazardous properties, while some processes' employ glass components and are therefore inherently less robust' than typical process plants.

The 'campaign' nature of production presents a barrier to the' building up of extensive process knowledge over long periods of' time and also presents the additional hazards involved in breaking' containment to reconfigure the process plant. The high value of' pharmaceutical intermediates and products can draw attention' away from the process hazards associated with site utilities such' as steam generation and incineration.

Does the pharmaceutical sector still need to improve process safety management (PSM )?

Serious incidents continue to occur across the sector, including' fires, explosions and toxic releases. The pharmaceutical industry' acknowledges the need to improve PSM and, in common with the' rest of the process industries, understands that process safety has' received less attention since the advent of the personal safety' revolution in the mid-1990s.

Describe ABB's approach to process safety.

ABB has extensive experience in process safety, both in PSM' systems (such as development, auditing and providing' independent assurance) and in the technical aspects of process' safety (for example, hazard identification, risk assessment and the' design and management of protective systems). The firm believes' that the understanding of process risk lies at the heart of process' safety management and this is very much a core competence of' ABB Consulting, which evolved from the organisation that' invented the hazards and operability study technique.

ABB's capabilities in terms of process safety, integrity' management and functional engineering mean that it can offer a' wide range of solutions; for example, not only process hazard' identification and risk assessment, but also the implementation' and ongoing maintenance of risk reduction measures.

Explain why a process safety system is an essential part of PSM and what elements it needs to include.

Effective control of process risk requires systematic and disciplined' management, and that is why a PSM system tailored to the' organisation's hazards is essential. The critical elements of the' system are process hazards analysis and risk assessment,' management of safety-critical equipment and procedures,' management of change, emergency preparation, performance' measurement and ongoing assurance.

What's the balance between effective leadership and a PSM system.

Leadership in terms of process safety demands the development of' a disciplined organisation and this can only be done through the' effective deployment of the process safety management system.

Leadership's prime task is to promote the system and seek' continual assurance that it is being applied effectively. Leadership' cannot achieve success by simply demanding high performance,' and just expecting the system to work and the people to get on' with it; leaders need to take an active interest on a daily basis.

What are the benefits of attending an ABB PSM best practice course?

The benefits are gaining an understanding of the elements of a' PSM system and receiving practical advice on implementation' based on ABB's extensive operational experience and its' knowledge of best practice, which comes from consulting some of' the most respected organisations within the process industries.

What are the benefits of deploying ABB's approach?

The benefits are exploiting the knowledge and experience of' ABB consultants involved in applying industry best practice for a' wide variety of organisations. ABB's competitive edge derives' from the experience of its consultants and their ability to apply' practical, tailored (not prescriptive) solutions, and from its diverse' capabilities. This enables ABB to provide holistic solutions,' helping to identify improvement opportunities and to identify and' implement the answers; for example, ABB can provide expertise' to conduct process hazards analysis such as hazard and' operability studies, and to provide the multifunctional' engineering and project management resources to implement' the resulting recommended actions in a timely way.

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