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Additional assurance for your basis of safety?

Author : Stuart Nunns, managing consultant, functional safety & John Walkington ABB

31 October 2011

Recent high profile incidents and accidents have brought home the need to ensure that layers of protection in hazardous areas meet the necessary safety integrity requirements. Operators, as part of their basis of safety, need to link their hazard analysis with the development of credible layers of protection (LOPA).

Figure 1 – IEC 61508 & IEC 61511 functional safety lifecycle
Figure 1 – IEC 61508 & IEC 61511 functional safety lifecycle

High hazard installations must demonstrate that their operating risks to people, the environment and the workplace are within acceptable levels. To achieve this, operator’s must:

 Design and build plants to appropriate technical standards and good practices
 Operate and maintain plants using appropriate safety and quality management systems
 Use competent delivery resources throughout the project, asset and operational lifecycle of the equipment in use

The above can be achieved by using the company's safety management systems. Such systems need to address the requirements of corporate responsibility and the development of a safe culture of work. In addition the systems need to implement a basis of safe operation and competency assurance for staff at all levels within the organisation.

Developing credible layers of protection
When developing a basis of safe operation, the owner/operator needs to have systems and procedures in place that look at four key requirements. These are process safety, functional safety, product safety and competency assurance. These four key requirements are needed to reduce the operating risk to a tolerable or minimum level, or ‘as low as reasonably practicable’ (ALARP).

Industry is achieving these four requirements by using the safety lifecycle models contained in IEC 615081 & IEC 615112 functional safety standards (Figure 1). Such models align the above requirements in terms of processes, structure and deliverables, as a means of demonstrating overall improvement. 

The four requirements above can be brought together as proof that the end user/ operators’ basis of safe operation is valid and appropriate. This helps the end user/ operator meet its obligations internally and with their supply chains.

For external requirements, the end user/ operator and EPC, are therefore seeking supply-chain partners that can provide seamless process safety consultancy, technical design and delivery, coupled with operations and maintenance support for their safety and asset lifecycle requirements.

By working with companies that can align their services to the overall safety lifecycle(s) requirements, the following can be matched in a seamless and competency assured way. In considering a seamless approach, the following activities would be core to supporting process safety and functional safety management requirements:

Hazard and risk management
 Development of process safety management systems
 Behavioural safety and culture
 Process Hazard Review (PHR)
 Hazard studies (including HAZOP 1-6)
 Mechanical integrity assessment and asset life
 SIL determination
 Computer hazard & operability studies (CHazop)
 Hazardous area risk assessment and classification
 Environment impact assessment
 Risk modelling
 Occupied buildings risk assessment

Design and engineering
 Pressure relief design and calculations
 Civil and structural systems i.e. bunding and containment
 Safety Instrumented System delivery (ESD, alarms and fire & gas)
 SIL achievement
 SIS specification
 Detailed design and engineering- SIL 3 capable
 Competency assured TUV certified functional safety engineers
 TUV global certified safety execution and engineering centres (SEC’s)
 Comprehensive functional safety management systems methodology and documentation aligned to IEC 61508 & IEC 61511 including functional safety assessments and audits
 Commissioning
 Validation

Operations and maintenance
 Reliability and operations improvement
 Modifications, upgrade management
 Brownfield project delivery
 24/7 service level agreements
 TUV global certified service organisations (CSO’s) for maintaining functional safety performance
 Safety management assurance and improvement
 Testing and repairs
 Operating and maintenance procedures

Operational management and management of change
 Organisational culture / change
 Human reliability assessment
 Safety critical procedure assessment
 Staffing levels and workload assessment
 Pre start-up safety review
 Legacy systems review
 Control room performance assessment
 Alarm management health check
 Safe systems of work
 Management of change auditing
 Mechanical integrity auditing
 Incident investigation support

Benefits from an increased safety assured solution
By using a supplier that can provide a seamless safety assured solution and all the necessary deliverables outlined above, an operator can demonstrate that their process safety management and functional safety match the entire safety lifecycle requirements. 

By engaging with such a provider the benefits to the end user/ operator and the project EPC’s include:

 End user
 Assured safety related solutions
 For SIS systems, third party assessed and certified
 For pressure relief – design verification approved
 For mitigation and containment - design verification approved
 Demonstrating that due diligence in terms of competency assurance has been discharged
 Meets ‘ALARP’ for the cost of safety
 Stakeholder/ shareholder increased confidence
 Meets corporate and regulatory expectations
 Basis of safety fully documented in relevant safety case material
 Best in class process safety management (PSM) sustained

 Global approach to design and installation of SIS
 Ease of contractual arrangements / less variability
 Confidence in meeting clients requirements
 Independent (functional) safety assessment and audit
 Appropriate documentation and auditing
 Ease of production of a safety case file
 Reputation and differentiation

Selecting a suitable supplier
Working with a supplier that can offer leading edge safety related products and certified competencies as a lifecycle approach can provide additional assured confidence when developing your basis of safe operation. 
In doing so, end user operators should consider the selection of a supplier that has unparalleled experience and expertise in assisting companies with addressing the whole safety lifecycle and in particular:

 Process safety management
 Responsibilities and ‘duty of care’
 Safe manufacturing
 Compliance with regulations
 Sustainable operations

 Functional safety management
 Application of appropriate safety related technologies
 Third-party accredited and certified methodologies, procedures and systems 
 Compliance with standards / good practice
 Compliance with the overall safety lifecycle

 Product safety
 Third-party accredited and certified SIL capable products
 Performance guarantees

 Competency assurance
 People - knowledge, experience, training and qualifications
 Recognised third-party certified competency schemes

The result is one that bridges the often difficult requirement to align all the management, key assumptions, tangible deliverables and essential documentation needs into a structured and cohesive basis of safety.

Whether embarking on delivering a new project, or for managing your existing asset, for increased safety assurance, the requirement to ever improve process and functional safety management techniques and competencies should be paramount within any responsible organisation.

End users and EPCs, therefore, have an increasing desire to work with suppliers that can provide lifecycle safety assured solutions and in doing so deliver:

 A means to meeting your regulatory and legal requirements

 Support in your ability to demonstrate duty of care

 Facilitation of increased stakeholder confidence

 Delivery of a ‘Fit for purpose’ technology, solution and service support

1. IEC 61508 Functional safety of electrical/electronic/programmable electronic safety-related systems
2. IEC 61511Functional safety – Safety instrumented systems for the process industry sector

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