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PT Notes

Addressing Design and Engineering in Process Safety

PT Notes is a series of topical technical notes on process safety provided periodically by Primatech for your benefit. Please feel free to provide feedback.

Current process safety management programs and regulations do not specifically address process design and engineering. Clearly, if the entire risk of a process is to be controlled, all elements that contribute to it must be included in the process safety management program. Process design and engineering is the most fundamental aspect of a process and has a profound impact on its risk. Therefore, specific requirements for addressing it should be included in process safety management programs.

Examples of topics that should be addressed by requirements for process design and engineering include design practices, design reviews, inherent safety, hazardous area classification, pressure relief, alarm management, damage mechanisms, human factors, facility siting, competency, and training for designers. Also, process design and engineering should be subject to the same management system requirements as other elements in a process safety program such as written policies and procedures, document management, assigning roles and responsibilities, auditing, management review, and continuous improvement. Process design and engineering should be an element of process safety management programs in order to provide a specific focus on the activities involved and to ensure the application of management system practices to it. Of course, there will be interactions with other process safety elements such as compliance with standards, competency, and hazard analysis.

The industry standard for safety instrumented systems, IEC 61511, contains performance-based requirements for design and engineering, commissioning, and decommissioning so there is a precedent for their inclusion as specific elements in programs that address process safety. Certainly, developers of process safety management programs should include an element on process design and engineering and companies should incorporate such an element into their current process safety management programs.

This topic was addressed in a letter to the editor:

Process Design - A Missing Process Safety Element, Process Safety Progress, Volume 35, Issue 1, page 115, March 2016.

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