Achieving Excellence in PSM Through Competency | AIChE

Achieving Excellence in PSM Through Competency


Moore, D. A. - Presenter, AcuTech Group, Inc.
Organizations that want to benefit most from the application of PSM need to set their sights to Excellence, not minimal compliance. There is a vast difference in outcome but the effort required may be positively disproportional to the outcome if there is a competent workforce. CCPS recognized this in setting goals for their Vision 20/20 where “Intentional Competency Development” is one of the five tenets or core principles for driving performance improvement to achieve process safety excellence.

Excellence in PSM is simply not possible to achieve nor sustain without a competent workforce.

AcuTech will outline key issues for awareness and then lay out a plan to ensure proper attention is given to the issue. Consideration has to be given to a short and long range plan for recruiting, internal development, placement, supervision, career development, training and assessment, and facilitation of the culture to retain the best workforce possible to achieve the PSM Excellence goals.

This is challenging given the availability of talent, the growth of the industry and competition for available talent, and need to attract individuals to want to pursue careers in engineering, operations, maintenance, and PSM.

“Unleasing” the workforce to achieve best performance under the right PSM culture is also a challenge. Competency of the workforce has to be an integral part of the process safety management system to be effective and to have a breakthrough to the next level of performance. That requires the right culture where managers are encouraged to develop a proper mentoring culture and to bring out excellence in their workforce.

CCPS recognized this and formed a committee to understand the issues and recommend an approach. This culminated in 2014 in the start of a new CCPS guideline project “Essential Practices for Developing, Strengthening and Implementing Process Safety Culture – Project # 249” led by AcuTech. This paper will explain the use of the guideline and the key findings for an application of the approach.

AcuTech mapped key PSM culture references and helped frame a new CCPS model of 10 essential elements of a PSM culture initiative for the CCPS guidelines. These formed the basis of a holistic model including the most important factor of a principle addressing Leadership and Process Safety as a Core Value. The ten Core Principles are:

  1. Establish an Imperative for Safety
  2. Provide Strong Leadership
  3. Maintain a Sense of Vulnerability
  4. Understand and Act Upon Hazards/Risks
  5. Empower Individuals to Successfully Fulfill their Safety Responsibilities
  6. Defer to Expertise
  7. Ensure Open and Frank Communications
  8. Foster Mutual Trust
  9. Combat the Normalization of Deviance
  10. Learn to Assess and Advance the Culture

AcuTech believes a new focus on PSM culture will prove to be an invaluable means of achieving excellence in PSM. If the organization seeks to be a “Learning Culture”, then there is a continual attitude to share, collaborate, and improve the workforce and to ensure a sustainable team is in place to preserve the objectives. This requires:

  • Deep management and employee commitment
  • Acceptance of the change required to make the program most effective
  • A systematic and sustained approach to evaluate and implement PSM culture improvement
  • A clear and continual evaluation of progress and status of the maturity of the culture
  • Holding everyone accountable to achieve the performance objectives by an alignment of culture and program objectives
  • Making the PSM culture a ‘way of doing business’ that everyone understands, appreciates, and voluntarily and enthusiastically follows.

This paper overviews this approach and emphasizes practical means of achieving PSM Excellence through an invigorated and competent workforce by focusing on the culture needed to recruit, mentor, develop, and sustain a competent team.


This paper has an Extended Abstract file available; you must purchase the conference proceedings to access it.


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