The Evolution of Process Safety Standards and Legislation Following Landmark Events - What Have We Learnt?

  • Type:
    Conference Presentation
  • Conference Type:
    AIChE Spring Meeting and Global Congress on Process Safety
  • Presentation Date:
    April 28, 2015
  • Duration:
    30 minutes
  • Skill Level:
  • PDHs:

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While modern process safety can be dated back to E.I. duPont in the early 1800s with the building of black powder plants including separation distances and blast zones, the management of process safety has come a long way. Despite this however, we have continued to see many catastrophic incidents occur, across a range of industries. There has been significant learning opportunities from these catastrophes, but are we actually applying the learnings?  Exploring the past 40 year history shows a number of landmark process safety events. These events have not only changed our state of knowledge for managing process safety, but have also resulted in standards and legislative change in multiple jurisdictions. This paper explores the significant learnings that came out of the various landmark process safety events and the impact these changes have had on how process safety is managed today. Such changes include the evolution of how management systems are structured, the introduction of management of change, and the evolution of safe work systems. Design standards have also evolved and improved, across all aspects of a facility, from instrumentation, through to occupied buildings. Lastly the legislative frameworks have evolved in many jurisdictions from prescriptive to performance based. This paper will consider these developments as reflected in the following case studies:

Flixborough UK (1974), Seveso Italy (1976), Three Mile Island USA (1979), Bhopal India (1984), Chernobyl (then) USSR (1986), Piper Alpha UK (1988), Longford Australia (1998), Texas City Refinery USA (2005), Varanus Island Australia (2008), Montara Australia (2009), Macondo USA (2010), Pike River New Zealand (2010) and Fukushima Japan (2011).

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