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Software sets priorities for industrial hazards.

Software Sets Priorities for Industrial Hazards

No one knows more than risk managers about the long hours that go into evaluating the hazard potentials of toxic and volatile chemicals used by industry. That's why Battelle, the Columbus, Ohio-based technology company, created software to help risk managers prioritize the hazard potentials of chemical and industrial operations.

"We can see from our clients that they all need a way to quickly establish the risks of an operation and then prioritize their resources accordingly," explains Fred Leverenz Jr., manager of process risk management services at Battelle.

The program, called Spectrum, is designed to help risk managers gain better control over industrial accidents involving fires, explosions, toxic releases, environmental damage and business interruptions. With a data base of nearly 300 chemicals, Spectrum numerically ranks risks based on plant equipment descriptions, operational characteristics, chemical property data, meteorological data and distance of neighbors. This ranking is designed to form a clear picture of those facilities with the highest potential for harmful effects.

"[Spectrum] allows corporate-level risk managers to make broad recommendations and develop strategies for dealing with the hazards of modern-day processing," says Robert Johnson, research leader at Battelle.

After five years of working inhouse with the software, Battelle decided to adapt it to the personal computer, according to Mr. Leverenz. He adds that the timing was right because the current legislative climate is forcing businesses to become more cautious of industrial hazards.

"A number of states are considering legislation to address catastrophic accidents," he says. "On the federal level, OSHA, which was once strictly concerned with individual worker hazards, is now considering legislation for catastrophic accidents in plants."

By using the software, Mr. Leverenz explains, a risk manager will have close at hand information on the types of accidents that could occur and the extent of possible damage. To calculate a monetary loss, the risk manager must enter measurements and other variables impacting the cost of damage, including the number of people working nearby and the type of equipment in the surrounding area.

For instance, if a storage tank holding hazardous chemicals were entered into the data base, Spectrum would require information on the temperature or volume of the chemical to determine the potential for monetary loss relative to the equipment and personnel located within the hazard's radius.

The radius is determined by how far the impact would be felt if an explosion were to occur. It and the associated property damage and business interruption losses are calculated using the Dow Chemical Co.'s Fire and Explosion Index.

"In this way," says Mr. Leverenz, "Spectrum will evaluate loss potential - the immediate effects to equipment and people - and it will also calculate the effect of a certain incident on loss of production and business interruption." However, Mr. Leverenz adds, the long-term effect of a toxic or hazardous exposure to people's health is not calculated nor is it included in the dollar amount.

To achieve the best results, Battelle recommends that the user visit the site to become familiar with the plant layout and operations. It also recommends that the plant's staff complete risk ranking surveys to provide detailed information on the process materials, the quantities involved and other conditions such as operating temperature and pressures, types of reactions, drainage and spill control, corrosion and leakage potential, operating and test procedures and mitigation systems.

The company also offers a more remedial program, Risk Rank, to analyze chemical hazards. It operates with Lotus 1-2-3 or Quattro Pro and surveys incident frequency, annual toxic chemical usage, spill containment, storage temperature and chemical volatility.

Data Risks

There are a lot of risks out there in today's hi-tech world, but one of the most common, as described in the August issue of Entrepreneur magazine, is the magnet.

Data can be erased from computer disks that are placed near magnets. So avoid at all cost, the magazine cautions, magnetic paper clip dispensers, copy holders with sliding guides, refrigerator magnets and portable radios and televisions emitting strong magnetic fields. Also, do not use stereo speakers as bookends or temporary tables and never throw computer disks haphazardly into a car. If you toss an answering machine beeper into your briefcase, you may come down with "briefcase-data-loss syndrome." Lastly, avoid toys and miscellaneous - you never know if there is a magnet hidden within.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Risk Management Society Publishing, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Spectrum - computer program
Author:Oshins, Alice H.
Publication:Risk Management
Article Type:column
Date:Oct 1, 1990
Words:718
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