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Safety survey suggests increased exposure to risk

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Petrotechnics has released its 2017 Operational Risk and Process Safety Management (PSM) survey results. Insights from over 200 senior industry leaders reveal that only 6% believe that their companies are fully up-to-date with their scheduled safety critical maintenance.

Simon Jones, head of professional services at Petrotechnics, stated: “Safety is a top priority in hazardous industries – but these results demonstrate that operators may be exposing themselves to increased major accident hazard risk.”

Operational excellence was highlighted as a main driver for improving safety performance (61%), but 59% believed that PSM was not always fully incorporated within operational excellence strategies or programmes. The top driver for improving safety performance cited was reducing operational and major accident hazard (MAH) risk (71%). However, 57% said that companies do not always have a defined roadmap in place for advancing safety performance, and 77% of survey respondents believe that companies do not always maintain a sense of vulnerability about their exposure to risk.

The survey also highlighted industry progress. 80% believe regulations and technology have made the industry safer. But, there is still some way to go. For example, 70% of companies believe there is a measureable change in the level of risk exposure on the plant between planned PSM hazard review periods. And, 74% of companies do not employ effective solutions for monitoring and managing the risk arising from operational activities, the impaired health of process safety barriers and other management system deficiencies.

90% believe that risk awareness and safety would be improved if the workforce and management had access to real time process safety risk indicators on the plant – a significant increase from 73% in 2016. This increase demonstrates the growing reliance on technology to improve process safety and operational risk management.

Jones adds: “The survey exposes important gaps in organisations’ ability to develop a single, shared view of the operational reality. This critical information should be accessible to everyone, from boardroom to frontline, and is essential to reducing exposure to MAH risk.

“The good news is process safety, operational risk and asset integrity professionals understand the complex nature of the challenges they face, and the organisational, cultural and technological hurdles to overcome. The goal now is to deploy systems that enable organisations to bring PSM into the fold of operational excellence.”

The Petrotechnics PSM survey was conducted online between 14 June and 12 July. More than 200 individuals took part, of whom 50% have worked in process safety, asset integrity and operational risk for more than 15 years. Two-thirds of respondents have management responsibilities at corporate level, with the remaining third having single-site or regional responsibilities. Survey participants work in the oil and gas sector (44%), chemicals (41%) and other manufacturing or utility companies (15%).

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