Process safety focuses on efforts to reduce safety risks associated with processes that involve hazardous materials and energies. It is a disciplined framework for managing the integrity of operating systems and processes by applying good design principles, engineering, and operating practices.
This article, written from the perspective of two process safety professionals, discusses why process safety is so important and provides guidance for engineers new to process safety and for those who are interested in pursuing a career in process safety.
▲ Jennifer Bitz
Jennifer Bitz, CCPSC, is a Lead Process Safety Engineer and Project Manager at the Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS). She has 25 years of process safety experience, including engineering and management positions at NCTI and Nouryon, and consulting experiences at ABS, PSRG, and aeSolutions. She has over six years of experience managing site health, safety, and environmental (HSE) programs. Her roles have included building and improving process safety management (PSM) programs, conducting process safety information gap analyses, training employees, communicating with communities and regulators, and leading process hazards analyses (PHAs), layer of protection analyses (LOPA), and audit studies. She holds a BS in mechanical engineering from Rice Univ. and is a CCPS Certified Process Safety Professional (CCPSC).
Jennifer Bitz’s reflection. My process safety journey began with a degree in mechanical engineering. This degree led me to work as a mechanical engineer in an operating plant. At the site, I participated in many hazard identification and risk analysis (HIRA) studies, and eventually I started leading them.
But process safety is not just one area of work. The CCPS Risk Based Process Safety (RBPS) program includes 20 elements that cover a broad range of working styles and skillsets (1). HIRA studies, auditing, incident investigation, and workforce involvement have allowed me to combine my engineering knowledge, problem-solving skills, and desire to help people and improve the safety of our workplace. As a people person, I have thrived in roles that included group interaction.
Influencing process safety culture, identifying competencies, and training have allowed me to help others grow in their careers. The RBPS elements such as process knowledge management (which includes process safety information),...
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