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You Need a Process Safety Roadmap!

Process Safety Culture Improvement Blog 3 - by Judith Lesslie, CFSE, CSP, CCPSC

This article continues a series of blogs around practical suggestions and methods to drive improvement of the process safety culture at manufacturing facilities. This is a big subject with many facets, and you can look forward to more bite-size potential improvement guidance for your own process safety culture in this series.

The Challenges – A Process Safety Road Map

In our last blog on strong process safety culture development, I described an organizational structure with a central committee and multiple process safety element committees, with the central committee driving the overall improvement cycle and each element committee interacting with the central committee to drive process safety performance while focusing on individual element performance and improvements.

A supporting document for this structure is a process safety roadmap. A roadmap is a systematically written document outlining the process safety elements and systems that apply at your facility, potentially identifying gaps in documentation or system performance that should be improved. It could be a stand-alone document or an appendix to an existing process safety program document. What it needs to be is a living, controlled document that undergoes at least an annual review by SMEs in order to incorporate ongoing process safety enhancements and help establish new improvement goals.

A sample roadmap for a portion of the Process Safety Information (PSI) element might look like this:

A sample roadmap for a portion of the Process Safety Information (PSI) element.

A process safety roadmap of this type ideally includes all the applicable elements and supporting systems from the PSM and/or RMP standards. It can yield a number of benefits well beyond its obvious uses in self-verification and audit activities. It provides a structure for your process safety programs; it can be used in training and orientation activities for newly assigned professionals in technical, supervisory, and management roles; it helps to identify risks due to subpar documentation or compliance issues; it helps identify technical initiatives and goals for future resourcing; and it can even help prioritize improvement initiatives if you include your corporate risk ranking scores or another prioritization method with the potential gaps. Circling back to audit support, a roadmap also provides an easy method to identify that elusive documentation that is always needed before and during the recurring audits required under the PSM and RMP regulations.

The development and easy availability of a process safety roadmap for your facility is likely to yield numerous improvement opportunities. An effective roadmap is an invaluable tool for site personnel and particularly to your staff involved in process safety element committees. This tool is also an excellent method of fostering more employee participation, which is undeniably one of the most important pillars of process safety.

The Stakes

The stakes for a strong process safety culture are higher than ever. A single significant loss of primary containment could have potential impacts ranging from serious on-site and off-site injuries and illnesses, to environmental damage, to company reputational impact, to financial costs from equipment damage, to production loss, and even lawsuits filed against the company.

So Now What?

Consider the development of a systematic process safety roadmap at your facility. Development and control of a document of this type has benefits well beyond the obvious uses in self-verification and audit activities. Adopting the roadmap structure exactly as shown may not be the best fit for your facility, but variations on it are within the reach of organizations of widely varying sizes and with or without a corporate governing structure. There is much to gain with a strong process safety culture and process safety performance with a roadmap!

If you feel that your corporate or internal knowledge of the PSM and/or RMP regulations is not up to the job of developing a roadmap as described, including the identification of improvement opportunities, consider involving one of our expert process safety professionals in the work. aeSolutions staff members have wide experience of both regulations, including compliance methods found to be efficient in the real world at sites like yours.

Future blogs in this series on process safety culture will address more aspects of the overall process safety improvement cycle, examine aspects of individual process safety programs, and offer suggestions on both bigger and smaller efforts and methods to drive improvements. Stay tuned for more!


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