Process Safety: the Key to Ensuring Viability

Sergio Kapusta, Chemical Engineering, Technion Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel

Ensuring the safe operation of all chemical, petrochemical and oil and gas facilities is not only a moral, ethical and legal imperative. It also makes business sense. A plant that is unsafe is also unprofitable and unsustainable. Sometimes, the safety of operations takes second seat to more "urgent", although not more important, requirements such as meeting production targets or extend a process run to meet a deadline. These requirements are sometimes presented a dilemma between profitability and safety. Facing this type of dilemmas is particularly difficult for new, young or inexperienced engineers who try to do what is best but might not have the right tools to make the right decision.

In this presentation, I will present the perspective that safety is inherently profitable. With examples from recent and past process safety incidents it is clear that safety is inherently profitable as a single accident can wipe out the full value of a company, in addition to causing irreparable human losses and environmental damage. Process safety comprises many individual elements, steps and actions, stretching from process design to operation to maintenance and shutdown. I like to call these "the 101 elements of process safety". It will be impossible to cover each element in a presentation, therefore I will focus on just a few of them: (1) the moral, ethical and legal imperative; (2) hazard assessment methodologies; and (3) risk based inspection as an example of risk mitigation. I will also try to discuss the basis for an effective process safety program. I emphasize the work "effective", in the sense that it should be results-oriented.

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