Safety Tip

Risk Mitigation

Define control system safety risks upfront​.

​Then eliminate them.

With zero incidents as the goal, we don’t just think safety, we live it. It should be top of mind at the start and end of each day. No matter the task, on-the-job safety must encompass every aspect of our daily work preparation, through and extending beyond a job’s completion.

As facilities look to upgrade or migrate their control systems, mitigating safety risks and hazards should be high on the priority list. To start, follow the below steps:

  • ​Initiate or rejuvenate your process safety management (PSM) programs and guidelines.
  • ​Perform a process hazard analysis (PHA) / hazard and operability (HAZOP) study or other audit to determine any safety-related issues or to identify those situations or potential system failures that could happen to cause an accident or issue.
  • ​Bring in experts of different backgrounds who can provide information on your facility’s critical systems.
  • ​Review the conclusions from the PHA / HAZOP discussions and ensure that they are applied properly.
  • ​Establish alarms for critical events, and understand the response required for each alarm.
  • ​Facilitate OSHA-mandated training so operators understand all changes to standard operating procedures and can identify potential hazards.
A third-party facilitator or an engineering consultant with broad industry experience can add value to the above discussions. During the upfront planning process, the team divides the process facility into sections and addresses one unit at a time, identifying hazards and events that could cause injuries and costly damage to critical systems. 

Each facility must define for itself which systems are critical; this designation will vary based on company size and other criteria. You and your chosen third-party partner should consider safety, downtime, resource allocation, network traffic levels, data integrity, cyber security and other critical factors while there is still the greatest flexibility to deal with them.

Safety starts from the top-down. Its importance is conveyed through a mix of communicating safety policies, strategies and initiatives; implementing process control safeguards and action plans; and investing in training and equipment repair and replacement. If the entire company regards safety as a top priority, appropriate resources will be allocated to ensure safe operations. With these elements in place, an effective corporate safety culture can be built to keep automation systems and people safe.

​​How well do you understand the areas that a process safety management program should cover?

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