(160b) Human Factor Considerations for Process Safety in a Global Economy

Authors: 
Skoyles, D. - Presenter, Air Products, Inc.
Long, J. L. - Presenter, Air Products, Inc.
Han, F. - Presenter, Air Products China
Yong, C. K. - Presenter, Air Products Singapore


Many companies have experienced a rapid expansion of their manufacturing base from the well established traditional US ?Europe model to true globalization involving even a more diverse range of languages and cultures. This has necessitated a major change in how all aspects of business are conducted. Process safety is particularly challenged since it is one area that has to be ?right first time?. The consequences of getting it wrong are too serious.

This paper describes the challenges and some of the techniques that have been used to overcome them. It covers process engineering design through to the day-to-day operations on the factory floor. The approach is essentially the same, whether it is a grass roots facility or the acquisition of an existing operating unit. The first step is to initiate the development of a good safety culture. Without this, the current tendency to design and operate for success without considering risk will continue to prevail and will hinder progress. With the foundations of the safety culture in place, the focus should to turn to effective technology and hazard information transfer. This needs to be a two way exchange especially in the case of existing plants. Only once this is understood can Process Hazard Analyses be initiated.

The language barrier is generally recognized as a significant obstacle in achieving process safety goals. It is particularly an issue when trying to get participation on Process Hazard Analyses. What is less well understood is the need to understand and bridge cultural differences in pursuing improvement. Trying to force procedures and approaches developed for western cultures to fit all circumstances results in confusion that can adversely impact safety. Failing to take into consideration how the plants would be run under local ownership and what are the local approaches to safety management can lead to issues. Having an approach that works in one culture does not necessarily translate well into another. What is also often overlooked is the fact that the new employees are being bombarded from every direction with changes that are alien to them. Careful prioritization needs to be done and change management carefully controlled.

The presentation will develop these points by drawing from our experiences in Brazil, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan and China.

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