Process Safety near Misses in Dow Chemical: A Proactive Program to Improve Process Safety Performance

Global Congress on Process Safety
April 3, 2012 - 12:00am

Major process safety incidents may occur infrequently, but when they do occur, the consequences can be severe. Corporate performance goals are such that an individual site or facility could operate for many years without a classified Process Safety Incident (PSI) and still be at risk by operating well below the required performance standard with no indication of a cultural issue. Process Safety Near Miss (PSNM) reporting is intended to be a more sensitive indicator than the CCPS metric for PSIs. A PSNM is an event that presents an opportunity to learn valuable information that may prevent future accidents, without the accompanying severe consequence of a true PSI.

The identification, reporting, investigation and subsequent elimination of the root causes of PSNM events and the improvement of corresponding management systems will reduce or eliminate causes of process safety incidents before they occur. The key to a successful PSNM program is leadership support, and that starts with recognizing PSNMs as a positive learning experience. Since the PSNM metric requires self-reporting and the PSNM criteria are often subjective, a leadership philosophy that drives negative consequences with PSNM reporting would drive a reduced level of reporting and investigation due to fear or indifference.

This paper will focus on how The Dow Chemical Company is implementing a PSNM program at a global level. Subjects covered will include:

  • the structure of Dow's PSNM initiative
  • how it is being effectively implemented
  • how lessons learned have been effectively shared amongst facilities that would benefit
  • and how leadership engagement was obtained to support this program

And finally, to demonstrate the importance of a PSNM initiative as a results-oriented program, there will also be several case studies demonstrating how the PSNM program has driven sustained improvements in our management systems and facility operations.

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