A Leadership Vision for Accelerating Learning from Past Lessons to Create a Future Free of Incidents

  • Type:
    Conference Presentation
  • Conference Type:
    AIChE Spring Meeting and Global Congress on Process Safety
  • Presentation Date:
    April 1, 2019
  • Duration:
    30 minutes
  • Skill Level:
  • PDHs:

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The presentation will pose a challenging question: “Knowing what we already know, why would we want to take years to gradually reduce our risks, when we could accelerate the learning from past lessons and prevent incidents using available best industry practices”?

The practice of process safety management (PSM) involves the analysis and understanding of what can go wrong, what the effects could be, and what should be done to prevent or mitigate an incident. That is: (1) what are the causes (human errors and equipment malfunctions)? (2) What are the potential consequences and impacts (to people, property, process, reputation)? and (3) what are the risk controls needed to prevent, detect, control, mitigate, or respond to such events (safeguards, layers of protection)?

Lessons learned from past disasters, as well as successes by industry leaders in preventing such incidents, form the basis for a practical framework for a PSM system as a holistic management tool for managing hazards and their risks. Design, development and effective implementation of a robust risk management system, driven by a proactive culture of leadership to reduce operational risks and improve performance, enables organizations to avoid future incidents.

However, a conventional approach of longer-term continual improvement of operational risk performance could easily be outpaced by the rapid changes in technology, organizational and human factors, and the dynamics of the market. Operating companies and regulators alike are challenged by such changes and their potential impacts. Lessons of disaster investigations from the process industry have been full of learning opportunities. In fact, many of the lessons and their root causes are common across most process safety incidents ... yet, 15-20 years has proven to be an unacceptable period for gradual learning.

This presentation will present some common lessons as a priority for establishing improvement strategies as organizations strive for operational excellence. Available proven risk management methodologies and best practices for operational risk reduction will be summarized. Given that the global industry has made remarkable progress toward developing proven solutions aimed at prevention, organizations must now commit to accelerating the adoption of these solutions before at-risk operations experience near future incidents.

The focus of the paper will be the challenge to accept a leadership position to: (1) resolve existing but perhaps unidentified risks, (2) to commit action to proactively identify hazards and their associated risks, and (3) urgently implement risk reduction measures before further incidents occur. This paper will present a framework of a robust risk-based management system, incorporating all of the necessary elements based on lessons learned and including supporting leadership and management processes to rapidly achieve risk reduction performance objectives. This paper will draw upon the authors’ extensive experiences in designing, developing, implementing and auditing PSM systems.

Attendees will benefit from practical takeaways of how each management system element can be developed with “leadership designed in” to control the process safety risks at three opportune times: before the incident (prevention), during the incident (emergency management) and after the incident (incident investigation, root cause analysis and lessons learned).

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