A Chat with Louisa Nara on Process Safety Resources for Every Level of Expertise

We recently spoke to Louisa Nara, the former Global Technical Director of the Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS), an asked her advice for where chemical engineers can go for resources, training, and certification in process safety. Whether you’re an undergraduate student or have years or experience, there are resources available to you, and a number of them are free. Read on to learn what advice and tips Louisa has to share.    

Can you tell us about CCPS and the resources it offers?

The Center for Chemical Process Safety is a member-driven, not-for-profit organization with 260+ corporate members worldwide. Its vision is "A World without Process Safety Incidents™,” and in collaboration with its members, it produces guideline books (over 100 to date), monographs on specific process safety topics, safe work practices, and many tools that members and others can use. In addition, CCPS conduct many conferences, meetings, workshops, and other training globally. Our Global Conference on Process Safety just celebrated its 20th anniversary (March 2024) and the Global Summit on Process Safety is celebrating its 11th anniversary later this year. In December 2024, CCPA is collaborating with other Process Safety organizations to create a Global Process Safety Week, where new ideas and discussions will be accessible online at different times to address time zone differences.

Many of the tools that we have created with our member companies are available free on the CCPS website. Some of the most used include the Chemical Reactivity Worksheet, a Process Safety Glossary, the Process Safety Incident Database (PSID) – for members only, Process Safety Metrics, and Golden Rules, which are monographs on single topics to address understanding and controlling inherent hazards associated with process technologies and specific chemicals.

What are some ways chemical engineers can further their process safety knowledge?

First, look at what is available. CCPS has many free resources that can get chemical engineers and process safety professionals started. If you are new to process safety, look at the Risk Based Process Safety (RBPS) Resources Web Tool. This is an easily accessible web-based tool for each of the 20 elements of RBPS, and this information is FREE to anyone.

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the Process Safety Beacon, which is a free tool used worldwide. Each month the Beacon focuses on a specific process safety topic in a one-page, easy-to-read document that can be used for safety meetings, toolbox talks and to get the word out to help people think about what can go wrong and what to do to prevent and/or minimize the consequences if it does go wrong. Direct circulation is over 40,000 per month, and it is projected that it will reach 10 times that amount when it is passed along for others’ use. The Beacon’s focus is on delivering key process safety information from actual incidents to front-line workers including plant operators, technicians, shift supervisors, and maintenance workers as well as engineers, managers, regulatory agencies, and academia. All Beacons are archived back to November 2001, when it was first published. You can sign up for free delivery to your email here. A big shout-out to our global team of volunteers who produce and translate the Beacon into more than 40 languages.

Something near and dear to my heart is the extensive education/training that is offered by CCPS in collaboration with AIChE Academy. The process safety courses are provided as face-to-face courses and in an e-learning format. Face-to-face courses are given in public settings which are open to all, or as company-specific courses that can be customized to the individual company. E-learning courses are available to those individuals or companies that need to incorporate learning over time. The global instructors for these courses typically have 25+ years (up to 50 years) of experience in industry settings and bring real-world experiences into the classrooms to share with the individuals taking the courses.

What are good resources for undergrad students?

For undergraduates, CCPS, in collaboration with AIChE Academy, offers the Safety in Chemical Engineering program or SAChE “to improve and accelerate process safety education at the university level.” The entire SAChE program has been updated and redesigned with new interactive learning modules and a dynamic curriculum to give the students a better understanding of process safety when they go out into the workforce. We now have 36 new and upgraded courses. They are interactive and can be taken at the student's own pace. Each SAChE course awards 2-3 PDH (professional development hours) and a course completion certificate.

The courses are grouped into three levels: Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced. These courses are FREE for AIChE undergraduate members. And now as part of AIChE’s Doing a World of Good Campaign and the generous support of corporate donors, AIChE Undergraduate membership is FREE when their university has a student chapter and a faculty member who is an AIChE member as an advisor. You can learn more about this great program here.

What credentials does CCPS offer, and how can they be useful for chemical engineers?

CCPS offers three certification programs. The first is the undergraduate SAChE education program outlined above. The SAChE program is also useful to early career professionals (ECP).

The second certification program is the CCPS Process Safety Fundamentals Certificate Program (CCPSf). This is an on-demand e-learning curriculum that helps to advance the chemical engineer/process safety professional’s career, prepare them for job opportunities in the area of process safety, and help them to gain recognition within their company or university. The certificate program is based on completing 24 of the 36 SAChE courses, with a minimum passing grade of 80% on each module. The modules are grouped into five sections under the topics of Process Safety Basics; Introduction to Hazards; Understanding Risk; Practical Applications for Managing Risk; and the 20 elements of Risk Based Process Safety (RBPS).

The third certification program under CCPS is the CCPSC®, the CCPS Certified Process Safety Professional (contact ccps-certifed@aiche.org for more information). It is a “rigorous certification process that verifies your competency in the latest process safety tools and techniques.” The global certification is the “definitive stamp of approval in Risk Based Process Safety.” The CCPSC is based on process safety knowledge and experience. This certification has no coursework. It consists of an application and a 4-hour exam given several times per year. The qualifications to sit for the exam are:

  • 5 years’ experience with a degree (4 year/bachelor’s or equivalent) from an accredited college or university in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM), or
  • 10 years’ experience with a degree in a non-STEM field or no degree.

As of March 2024, there are 419 total CCPSC’s™ from 55 countries in every major region of the world.

In addition to the three certifications, CCPS offers the Early Career Professional’s Learning Initiative (ECPLI). The ECPLI: Series of courses for early career professionals, teaching the “how” of various process safety topics, including MOC and P&ID. Contact jennb@aiche.org.

If you have any other questions about the information provided, you can contact me at lakeridge@zoominternet.net. Have fun and keep learning!