Spotlight on Safety: Abnormal Situation Management | AIChE

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Spotlight on Safety: Abnormal Situation Management

Spotlight on Safety

Hazard analyses prevent incidents before they happen and incident investigations prevent incidents from reoccurring, but what about at the onset of an incident? When you detect something abnormal but do not have time to analyze the situation, abnormal situation management works to return the process back to normal, preventing a potential incident.

Process upsets — disturbance(s) to a process that cause operations to deviate from an optimal state — do not typically have significant consequences. Once the deviation is detected, typically an automated system takes corrective action to return the process to normal operation. If, however, the automated control system cannot make the correction, the operations team must leverage their training, procedures, and competency to manually get the process back on track.

Increased automation can improve operations, but can cause operators’ cognitive skills to decline. This is often referred to as the paradox of automation. To prevent skill...

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