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Questions of the Week

Primatech posts weekly questions relating to various aspects of safety, security and risk on the home page of our website together with answers to provide visitors with the opportunity to test and improve their knowledge of these subjects. This page contains questions and answers that have appeared in previous weeks.

What is a competency management system (CMS)?

A management system that organizes and integrates all the activities needed to manage competency properly. It helps in ensuring competent performance by individuals and groups of people.

What is meant by process safety competency?

The ability to perform work activities to a relevant standard, as necessary to ensure process safety and prevent major accidents. Competency requires individuals to possess various attributes such as appropriate knowledge, skills, experience, behaviors and attitudes.

What is a safety culture assessment?

A survey to help an organization identify pervasive attitudes or beliefs regarding risk tolerance in the workplace. It is conducted to provide a basis for improving the safety culture.

Does a PHA scribe need to have a technical background?

Ideally, a scribe should be technically-oriented. They need a knowledge of processes in order to understand the discussions that occur during PHA studies. Also, they need to understand the process that is followed in performing a PHA study and be familiar with the technical terms and acronyms used. Sometimes, the role is filled by a junior engineer, although administrative personnel with appropriate experience also have acted successfully as scribes.

What is meant by safety culture?

Values, beliefs, perceptions and attitudes that shape behaviors exhibited towards safety within an organization. Put simply, factors that influence how people in an organization behave with respect to safety when no one is watching.

Should a PHA team leader act as their own scribe?

Many PHA team leaders act as their own scribe. Use of PHA recording software gives leaders a subtle but powerful form of control over the team. They can direct the team's attention to highlighted entries in the worksheet and readily display checklists and other documents. Of course, leaders who scribe should have reasonable keyboard skills and be comfortable with all the other responsibilities of leading studies so that scribing does not impair their performance as a leader.

Should PHA worksheet entries for nodes be completed in a particular order?

Node order typically follows the primary process flow. Side streams are addressed as they are encountered.

What is meant by node intention?

Node intention defines relevant aspects of the process design intent for each node, for example, safe ranges of operating parameters. Node intentions and parameter intentions often are defined in ranges (e.g. 100 to 150 gpm, or 20% to 80% tank fill height).

Is it acceptable for the owner of a PHA study to make changes to the PHA to account for issues missed by the team, for example, omitted safeguards?

No. The owner cannot know all the implications of the change. The PHA team should be reconvened to discuss the change and modify the PHA accordingly.

Is pre-populating PHA worksheets with scenario information by the PHA facilitator an acceptable procedure?

No. Scenario identification depends on team members contributing their respective knowledge of the process and brainstorming scenarios together.