Spotlight on Safety: The Three-Legged Stool of PSM


During a session I was instructing on risk-based process safety, one of the company process safety leaders presented a simple process safety model: If you design it right, operate it correctly, and maintain it properly, the process should operate safely. My initial thought was disbelief. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) process safety management (PSM) program has 14 elements and CCPS’s risk-based process safety guidelines include 20 elements. How can you reduce either of those to three simple ideas? Although it may seem mindboggling, on closer inspection, I found it is correct. This three-legged stool model of PSM becomes more obvious as you examine each leg.

Design it right. At the design stage, the process should be developed based on well-defined chemistry that employs the principles of inherently safer design to avoid the need to handle extremely hazardous materials, especially after scale-up. The chemistry that is developed in the laboratory or pilot plant to ensure commercial viability must be documented so it can serve as functional process knowledge. Even laboratory or pilot plant failures are valuable because they provide boundaries and warnings to inform future reviews and potential changes. Process and design engineers...

Author Bios: 

John Herber

John Herber joined CCPS in 2009 after a 33-year career with 3M Company that included positions in process and project engineering, production operations and corporate safety. In Corporate Safety Services, John developed programs for improving PSM systems across 3M’s global operations, including PSM metrics, Process Hazard Management policy and implementation guidance. As PSM consultant, John has performed audits, facilitated PHAs and assisted with PSM program development and training. John has a BS in Chemical Engineering from Purdue.

CCPS projects: Process Safety Boot Camp...Read more

Would you like to access the complete CEP Article?

No problem. You just have to complete the following steps.

You have completed 0 of 2 steps.

  1. Log in

    You must be logged in to view this content. Log in now.

  2. AIChE Membership

    You must be an AIChE member to view this article. Join now.

Copyright Permissions: 

Would you like to reuse content from CEP Magazine? It’s easy to request permission to reuse content. Simply click here to connect instantly to licensing services, where you can choose from a list of options regarding how you would like to reuse the desired content and complete the transaction.