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Process Safety Management and how it is relevant to pulp and paper.

Editor's Note: This article is a condensed version of a longer article on Process Safety Management. To read the long version, go to, click on the "Publications" link on the left hand side, click on "Solutions! for People, Processes, and Paper," then click on "Online Exclusives."

Process Safety Management is application of management principles and systems to prevent process-related loss. It is really a guide to applying chemical engineering discipline and methodology to increasing the performance efficiency of a process operation, in all its aspects. As the discipline has developed, it encompasses twelve elements. Six of them are highlighted here.

Accountability means senior managers are accessible to their people for support and guidance in decision making and for resolving priority conflicts among safety, production, and cost control. You have to lead from the front, not from the top. This is where you put the "teeth" into your best intentions. One way is to translate those intentions into standards in each renewal of performance plans, annually or more often. This makes it possible to commend or correct accountability performance at salary review time.

Process Knowledge Documentation is where you institutionalize your organization's collective experience and wisdom. Operating procedures must be readily accessible and up-to-date! Management of this information electronically makes knowledge readily accessible from computer terminals at critical locations throughout the mill. Centralized common access makes it easy to provide updates on a timely basis. The caution, however, is that you must use hard copies very prudently since there is no assurance they are current!

Process Risk Management covers hazard identification, operational risk analysis and risk reduction alternatives. If threats and opportunities are not identified, they are not addressed! You must acknowledge the utter impossibility of eliminating all risks. Assess all relevant factors, then select the strategy to pursue. Maybe you decide to stop, or at least minimize some critical negative factor. Maybe you decide to start or maximize some factor with significant positive impact. After that, you may decide to live with the residual risk or partially share it with someone else through some form of insurance.

Process and Equipment Integrity must include alarms and instrumentation which are often overlooked because they do not necessarily show up as reportable lost tonnes. But they do represent potential losses in process efficiency through quality variability and chemical consumption and they do pose safety implications! There must be a regular "check and test" discipline. Excellence of operational execution is the result when performance integrity of the chemical process converges with equipment reliability.

Incident Analysis means you must analyze even the near miss situations. Do the analysis promptly and involve competent, knowledgeable people; use third party participation if appropriate. The report includes sound, root-cause identification and following up with action to prevent recurrence. If the analysis report does not clearly state who is going to do what by when, it simply has not done the job. Communication of the outcome is essential so that all parties involved and interested know what is going to be done differently from now on.

Enhancement of Process Safety Knowledge means there must be a system to proactively seek out new process knowledge and documentation from internal and external sources. Knowledge of technology and systems is growing and concurrently safety requirements are becoming more stringent, so the need for ready access to relevant information is crucial.

In most G-20 countries, chemical engineering societies provide the organizational infrastructure and leadership to promote and advance Process Safety Management because they are the primary professions that apply those techniques to manage the risks.

Take a look at You will find the structured and disciplined approach to improving equipment reliability and process performance will all aspects of your mill's performance. We all gain--as professionals, as citizens, and as human beings--when we can make the operational facilities where we work and the communities where we live safer for everyone.


R. Thomas Boughner, P. Eng., MCIC, is general manager, Mackenzie Operations, for Pope & Talbot Ltd., British Columbia, Canada. He is also process safety management division chairman for the Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering. Contact him by email at:


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Title Annotation:FOUR MINUTE FOCUS
Author:Boughner, R. Thomas
Publication:Solutions - for People, Processes and Paper
Date:Sep 1, 2005
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