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How is judgement of functional safety being made? - Hazardex 2016

Author : Paul Reeve, Silmetric

29 October 2015

**This paper will be presented at Hazardex 2016. Contact us for details of delegate packages & offers**

End-users often have to rely on other competent people to judge whether specialised aspects of plant safety have been achieved, such as explosion protection or functional safety. For hazardous area equipment, the ATEX Directive has ‘Notified Bodies’ whose assessment scope, activities and methods are clearly defined and who are overseen by nationally instituted authorities.

For suppliers of most types of hazardous area equipment, possessing an ATEX EC Type Examination Certificate plus a suitable Quality Assurance Certificate (or equivalent) from a notified body is not only a legal requirement but provides the buyer with the appropriate level of safety assurance.

When it comes to safety instrumented systems (and their constituent products) that provide high levels of risk reduction, perhaps surprisingly there is no such regulatory provision as there is under ATEX. The technical standards for these systems (IEC 61508 and 61511) require an ‘independent assessment’, but what assurance does the end-user have that this has been done correctly, or indeed, done at all? The same question applies to an integrator buying the instrumentation devices.

This paper will explore this apparent void in the regulations for safety instrumented systems and provide some practical considerations for the ‘intelligent buyer’ of safety-related equipment and safety assurance services. Comparisons with the requirements for ATEX equipment assessments will be made to draw out what the important features are in any formal examination process that is used to judge the achievement of safety.

This whole area is particularly pertinent as the UK HSE is expecting owner/operators of safety instrumented systems to demonstrate their management responsibility for these systems, including an informed approach to relying on the safety assurance services of external parties.

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