Process Safety: Uniandes Vision From the Latin-American Context

Global Congress on Process Safety
AIChE Spring Meeting and Global Congress on Process Safety
April 30, 2013 - 1:30pm-2:00pm

Process Safety: Uniandes vision from the Latin-American context

J. Cadena1, G. Gómez2, F. Munoz3

Chemical Engineering Department, Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia

When performing a search about process safety incidents in Latin-America the results are not exactly what a user from a developed country might expect, they are quite scarce. This relates directly to the lack of clearly defined concepts and the understanding of process safety as an element of its own in the process industries safety. The lack of record keeping and concepts weakens the performance of safety management systems as reflected by the 30 million of work-related accidents per year and 240 thousand work-related fatalities per year (as reported by the American Syndical Confederation - CSA[1]). Also, the region has had process safety incidents such as the explosion and fire at a refinery in Amuay, Venzuela (August 25 2012, ~41 fatalities, ~80 injured, under investigation), the explosion in Burgos fields’ natural gas reception in Mexico D.F., Mexico (September 20 2012, 30 fatalities, 46 injured), and the pipeline failure and subsequent explosion at Dosquebradas, Colombia (December 23 2011, 38 fatalities, ~70 injured). These along with the Latin American projection of energy demand growth by 2040 of ~73%[2], and particular cases such as the Colombian with ~20% growth in 4 years[3], makes it necessary to have a clearly defined vision of process safety. This vision for Universidad de los Andes (Uniandes), finds its guide on the Process Safety Research Agenda for the XXI Century. This agenda establishes 5 main research areas (hazardous phenomena, inherently safer design, risk management, failure of complex systems, safety device & technology improvement) and 19 specific topics related. Uniandes research on process safety has been aligned to these areas and topics, focusing on hazardous phenomena, risk management, consequence analysis, resilience engineering, safety technology (layers of protection and mitigation systems) and process safety management. The alignment to this research agenda intends to approach the region’s process safety requirements and challenges, in order to achieve high levels of safety during the whole life-cycle of operations.

[1] Pulsar agency of AMARC-ALC, Amrica Latina registra 30 millones de accidentes laborales cada año, retrieved on 07/09/2012 from

[2] Exxonmobil Corporation, 2012 The Outlook for Energy: A View to 2040, 2012

[3]Mines and Energy office of Colombia (Ministerio de Minas y Energía, Respública de Colombia), UPME  - Unidad de Planeación Minero Energtica, Energy demand projection in Colombia, 2010

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