Technology is the key to any operation today, but humans factor into every aspect of the facility’s lifecycle from design to operations and maintenance. For certified safety systems, reliability levels approach one failure in one million occurrences.

When it comes to manual actions, though, reliability drops dramatically to 1 in 100 occurrences or less depending on environmental conditions such as mental stress during an abnormal event.

ISSSource is launching a monthly question and answer segment sponsored by ABB that looks at solutions and best practices for safety.

Question: How do I implement an action plan to protect against the human factors impacting plant safety?

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Answer: Manufacturers need to have an action plan of best practices to ensure a safe environment. They need to:
• Set up procedures for reducing incidents that include proactive asset management and written standard operating procedures.
• Perform comprehensive hazard assessment after every incident, or accident, to ensure equipment meets baseline protection levels at minimum.
• Manage process safety as an all-inclusive effort where all parties (including third-party contractors) possess appropriate process safety knowledge and expertise. Root cause analysis of incidents leverages lessons learned and adds to the overall body of knowledge.
• Consider an integrity management system to gain more knowledge of the current state of all plant equipment as it relates to safe operations.
• Do retrospective HazOp implementing “what if” scenarios. If the plant has been running 10 to 15 years, every five years the plant should do a HazOp test to make sure everything is working.
• Layers of protection analysis (LOPA: This is to overcome human factors where plants undergo changes over the years. People have modifications like add ons or close offs. This type of analysis would inform what was working and what was not.
• Asset integrity management: This is for the mechanical items on a production plant. Make sure the control valves, the emergency relief valves, piping and pressure vessels, etc. undergo inspections at defined frequencies.
• Alarm management: A root cause of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant incident was the operators ended up swamped with alarms. Operators had dozens of flashing lights and they couldn’t tell the wood from the trees. Alarms need to be put into context. Now there are emergent standards coming out that allows for a certain amount of alarms in 10 minutes.

For more answers to your cyber security and process safety questions visit Process Automation Insights.

For additional resources on safety best practices click here to download eGuides on Safety and Security.

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