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Do your business operations involve complex industrial processes that handle hazardous materials? Are you in the pulp, pellet, waste to energy, chemical, or oil and gas sector? If you answered yes to at least one of these questions, developing a process safety plan is an important part of your occupational health and safety activities.

Watch what Domtar’s Kamloops Mill and Cariboo Pulp and Paper have done to implement their process safety plans.

What is process safety?

Process safety is a proactive form of risk assessment combined with engineering that focuses on preventing high-impact fires, explosions, accidental chemical releases, and structural collapses, especially in facilities that use, process, and handle hazardous materials.

Process safety involves the management of risks through the implementation of controls in order to prevent leaks, spills, equipment malfunctions, corrosion, component failures, and upset conditions. Process safety incidents may not happen often, but if they do, the consequences can be catastrophic, which is why it requires a different lens and approach to be able to address effectively.

Process safety may also be known as: process control, process hazard analysis, hazop, advanced process control, asset integrity, asset integrity management, process risk management, industrial process control, process control system, hazard analysis and risk assessment, or process hazard assessment. Although different industries may use any of these terms, they all refer to process safety and the goal of managing workplace risks.

Process safety planning

A process safety plan goes hand-in-hand with a personal safety plan for your workplace. Solely relying on a personal safety plan, which includes the use of hard hats, eye protection, lockout, and machinery safeguarding, misses the risk posed by process equipment failing and processes that get out of control. This can result in loss-of-containment events, leading to toxic release, fire, and explosion.

How do I develop a process safety plan?

  1. In collaboration with your workers and stakeholders, you should begin by identifying the potential risks and current controls of your operating systems.
  2. Next, you should have the appropriate controls put in place with management systems around those controls.
  3. When the process changes, there needs to be an assessment of that change made in advance and, where necessary, an implementation of additional controls.

Often the best way of developing and implementing these plans is forming a multi-disciplinary team of managers and workers who are familiar with the work activities and may also have insight into previous incidents and the challenges the work poses to workers.

It’s also good practice to ask other employers with similar equipment what they have done to address these risks — this can provide insight into aspects that may have been overlooked, or be a bench-marking exercise to make sure you are on the right track.

Process safety is a continuous journey, not a destination.

We’re here to help

See the resources below to help you develop and implement a process safety plan. If you need more information, please contact us via email.

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