Safe design ― design that effectively minimizes the likelihood of process accidents and mitigates their consequences ― has long been a priority in the process industries. Today, process industry companies need to be certain that their stakeholders have confidence in how they manage the environmental, health and safety implications of industrial activities. A safe ― and documented ― design basis, together with a formal safety management system and safety practices, procedures, and training, is critical for providing that level of confidence required for risk management.
Risks cannot be completely eliminated from the handling, use, processing, and storage of hazardous materials. Instead, the goal of process safety management is to consistently reduce risk to a level that can be tolerated by all concerned ― by facility staff, company management, surrounding communities, the public at large, and industry and government agencies. A systematic, risk-based approach to safety design can help eliminate hazards that pose intolerable risk from the process and mitigate the potential consequences of hazards.
To achieve a consistent, effective approach to risk reduction, designers must be able to define “tolerable” and “intolerable” risks. To meet the expectations of shareholders, employees, regulators, and the communities that surround process facilities, design engineers need to be able to document how risk is addressed in the design process.
At the same time, to meet the business needs of the company, the process safety solutions designers propose must be as cost-effective as possible. A risk-based approach to design safety enables designers to answer the needs of all process safety stakeholders without compromising on safety or spending too much on excessive prevention and mitigation measures.
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