(7c) Methodology to Prioritize Process Safety Action Items

Authors: 
Howard, H. J. III, SACHEM Inc.

In general, the decisions faced by engineers and managers of facilities in the chemical, oil and gas industries regarding prioritizing Process Safety action items are difficult and complex.  Some of the most challenging decisions involve Process Safety risks reduction recommendations which need to be addressed but may have the same risk ranking.  The use of proper methodology, can provide managers with the tools to make cost conscious decision making in tight capital environments when handling High Hazardous Materials.

 ….This prioritizing should consider the potential severity of a chemical release, the number of potentially affected employees, the operating history of the process such as the frequency of chemical releases, the age of the process and any other relevant factors. These factors would suggest a ranking order and would suggest either using a weighing factor system or a systematic ranking method. The use of a preliminary hazard analysis would assist an employer in determining which process should be of the highest priority and thereby the employer would obtain the greatest improvement in safety at the facility.                    OSHA Compliance Guidelines for PSM

The purpose of this paper is to provide decision makers and those who supply them with data and guidance relating to a decision methodology that can be used to assess the relative ranking for action items within the same risk class (i.e. medium risk). We will use consequence and frequency of the event as well as the hazard material factor to determine the risk scoring of the action item.

This paper is not intended to give guidance on how to conduct the PHA or what type risk matrix to use.  It can be modified to fit any type risk matrix. Company procedures and practice should be consulted for specific guidance on how to conduct a PHA.

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