Process Safety Regulations - Blessing or Curse?

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Are Process Safety / Risk Management regulations a blessing or a curse? The answer of course is “it depends.” There is little doubt that Process Safety regulations can establish minimum standards which all covered facilities are expected to meet, and therefore should reduce the likelihood of catastrophic releases of highly hazardous chemicals across the regulated communities. On the other hand, the existence of regulations, as well as the enforcement environment and other factors (e.g., process safety culture), can drive a “compliance mentality” where facilities/companies only do the minimum required and/or only apply Process Safety Management to covered chemicals/processes.

This paper will discuss: (1) several global Process Safety regulations and observations on their long-term impact to date, (2) some of the factors which influence whether or not facilities/companies have a “compliance mentality” rather than striving for the optimum Process Safety program, (3) case studies on how several companies have either implemented Process Safety regulations or gone beyond compliance, and (4) conclusions on how the regulators and the regulated communities should work toward the common goal of reducing the number of catastrophic Process Safety events. This information will be based on the experiences of the authors along with interviews of other Process Safety professionals who have seen the impact of regulations from various views (e.g., regulators, regulated, consultant, legal, academia).

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