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Education to experience exchange: part one

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Within essenscia, the Belgian umbrella organisation of companies that are active in the field of chemistry and life sciences, Delta Process Academy (DPA) is a platform that governs three initiatives in close collaboration with important stakeholders. First, it funds and coordinates, together with the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven's (KU Leuven) Department of Chemical Engineering, a postgraduate or advanced Master of Safety Engineering, and secondly it has developed two short courses on process safety.

Problem definition

The importance of process safety must be stressed continuously. Education, training and sharing good practices are an essential to process safety and preventing incidents and an important element of process safety knowledge and competence. There is a difference between process safety and occupational health and safety. For the latter, the education level, experience exchange and knowledge sharing are already mature. For process safety, however, this high level of maturity has not yet been reached. Process safety should be a concern for everybody in the company. The manager and the process operator should both be aware and understand the importance of process safety for their organisation.

Master class

The five day Advanced Master Class on Process Safety, aims to provide professionals with the essential knowledge and pitfalls regarding process safety. By attending this course, participants develop a high level of awareness on process safety. Particularly for intermediary management positions in the process industry, this awareness is an essential competence towards a successful career. It is also an essential competence for attendees pursuing a specialist’s career in process safety because the lectures are taught by academics and specialists from the industry, each with their own particular expertise or discipline. Originally, the main purpose of the Advanced Master Class on Process Safety was to give an introduction to the postgraduate Master of Safety Engineering programme contents, focusing on participants from the industry in general. However, after a short time it has become a leading course in awareness that tackles the most important topics in relation to process safety. An important aspect related to the course is the evaluationof the teachers and of the contents by the participants.

For evaluation, DPA uses two levels of the four level Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model. The first level, ‘reaction’, measures satisfaction by asking what the trainee feels about the training (instructors, material presented, venue, etc). The second level, ‘learning’, emphasises learner performance and identifies whether the trainee gained and retained new facts, knowledge and techniques. This was not measured by a real performance test but by an anonymous evaluation form, as for the first level test. The third and fourth levels in Kirkpatrick's model, ‘behaviour’ and ‘results’, were not evaluated. To increase the level of quality, the results of the evaluation were used to replace the two course teacher combinations with the lowest scores each year.

The five day course starts with an ‘Introduction to process safety’ on day one, with lectures presented on ‘Incidents that define process safety’, ‘Integrated process safety management systems’ and ‘Organisational and human factors’. Intrinsic hazards of chemicals in relation to process safety are also presented during the last lecture. During the session on ‘Organisational and human factors’, 10 potentially high consequence incidents are briefly discussed, leading to the conclusion that the organisational barriers and the measures to boost human performance must be coupled in order to prevent such high consequence incidents. The seminar also puts the use of the risk matrix in relation to process safety management in the right perspective. Day two focuses on risk analysis. Starting with the identification of the different scenarios by the hazard and operability (HAZOP) technique and a discussion of the pitfalls, the layer of protection analysis (LOPA) assessment technique is then explained. Following the semi-quantitative technique, process hazard analysis (PHA) is explained along with facility siting and temporary housing during the next session. The day ends by developing the scenarios within a full quantitative risk analysis (QRA). During the first two seminars, HAZOP and LOPA are highlighted, stressing the fact that the quality of the HAZOP will determine one’s risk assessment and process safety management, and that effective and independent layers of protection are indispensable for risk reduction and process safety management.

Explosion safety is the focus of day three. Vapour, gas and dust explosions are discussed thoroughly, as are the protective systems that can be used to guard against them. Related legal regulations are also highlighted. The day ends with an in-depth discussion of the boiling liquid expanding vapour explosion (BLEVE) phenomena. The seminars on day three are taught by two accomplished specialists that are well acquainted with the academic world and who have gained a considerable amount of practical experience in many industrial applications and installations. The pure engineering topics are presented during day four, starting with the cornerstone of process safety: process safety engineering. Different engineering designs are illustrated and explained by referring to examples of typical installations. Day four ends with a purely chemical topic, namely how to manage reactive chemistry hazards, which is one of the main concerns in research and development (R&D).

The final day is devoted to mechanical integrity, starting with the elaboration of the first layer of protection: the mechanical envelope. The day continues with a lecture onmechanical degradation mechanisms. The last seminar centres around an in-depth discussion concerning measurement techniques. Part of that seminar deals with compliance issues towards governmental inspection bodies regarding the mechanical envelope, which is also a major concern for industrial partners.

Written by Geert Boogaerts, Geert Vercruysse, and Jan Degrève. This is an abridged article taken from the December 2015 issue of Hydrocarbon Engineering. Subscribers can sign in to access the complete version.

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