Safety Insight: Process Safety extends beyond the Chemical Industry

18. Feb 2020

SI: Beyond Compliance: Assessing Organizational Process Safety

Beyond Compliance: Is your Organization doing enough to Manage Risk?

Last month, Harcros Chemicals pleaded guilty for violating the federal clean air act regarding a 2016 unintended reactive chemistry event in Atchison, Kansas. A truck operated by Harcros inadvertently offloaded 4,000 gallons of sulfuric acid to the wrong tank (owned by MGP Ingredients, Inc). The two chemicals formed a toxic chlorine gas cloud that resulted in a 10-mile radius shelter-in-place and 120 people seeking medical attention. Both Harcros and MGP are each expected to pay a $1 million fine.

It’s easy to think “that can’t happen here.” However, both regulators and the public expect all organizations to understand, accept responsibility and manage the hazards that touch their operations. Increasingly, organizations are choosing to adopt process safety principles to help manage risks associated with operations involving combustible dust, reactive chemistry, waste treatment & management, warehousing, transport of hazardous materials, and laboratories.

Does your Organization have a robust Process Safety Program?

It’s important that every safety program recognizes rare, catastrophic events, even if it is called something other than “process safety.” Many organizations are aware of US-OSHA 1910.119 Process Safety Management (PSM) of Highly Hazardous Chemicals and the US-EPA’s Risk Management Plan (RMP) 40 CFR part 68. However, fewer organizations recognize that standards boards are also adopting Process Safety principles. A few examples include API RP 1173 Pipeline Safety Management Systems (SMS); NFPA 652 Standard on the Fundamentals of Combustible Dust (Chapter 8, Management Systems); and APRI RP 750, Management of Process Hazards.

A cost-effective way to evaluate if your safety program includes process safety principles is to evaluate it against a widely accepted PSM program model such as the Risk-Based Process Safety strategy offered by the Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS). Several organizations have leveraged the complementary materials that CCPS provides in order to identify gaps within their safety programs. Facilities that handle combustible dust may be more comfortable using the free viewer offered by the National Fire Protection Association to view NFPA 652 chapter 8.

Having a Program isn’t Enough: How Mature is Your Organization?

It is important to know how effective your organization has implemented your safety program. Ultimately, you need to know if your organization has an avoidance-driven, compliance-driven, or values-driven culture. It can be difficult to determine what the Organizational Maturity is of your organization. It may be possible that silos exist where some areas have an avoidance-driven culture where other areas reflect world class performance.

Where can you get more information?

For more information, including ways to evaluate the maturity of your organization, you can download DEKRA’s Focus Article on Beyond Compliance: Assessing Organizational Process Safety.

To explore the full line of support DEKRA can provide for Process Safety assessments, audits, and competency development programs, CONTACT US to speak to a Process Safety expert.