Minimizing Audit Findings by Increasing Operational Discipline and Process Safety Culture

Many major accidents have taken place in the chemical and petrochemical industry over the past 40 years (e.g. Bhopal (India, 1984), Texas City (USA, 2005)), which have been key driving forces for issuing new regulations (governments), publishing standards (industry groups), developing policies (companies), and ultimately for improving Loss Prevention strategies and Process Safety Management (PSM). On this context, a key standard is the OSHA PSM (29 CFR 1910.119), a process-based program aiming at preventing or minimizing the consequences of catastrophic releases of toxic, reactive, flammable, or explosive chemicals.

The present paper focuses on the results from several PSM audits performed between 2010 and 2016, at several different Chemical Process Industry (CPI) facilities. On the one hand, we have evaluated how well these facilities complied with the requirements of the OSHA PSM Standard. On the other hand, the data from the audit findings has been compiled and statistically processed in order to compare the main common findings with the results of those analyzed by OSHA’s Refinery and Chemical National Emphasis Programs (NEP) in 2012.

Key audit findings from the CPI are a valued source of information for understanding current safety weaknesses. The lessons learned from this study help us to identify operational discipline and process safety leadership and culture benefits towards minimizing or avoiding audit findings, and therefore, to contributing to an optimized and sustainable Process Safety management system.

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