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White papers

Avoiding the ‘watermelon’ effect

Avoiding the 'watermelon' effectAre we doing enough in the process industry to prevent the next major accident?

Developing a ‘chronic sense of unease’ towards major accidents is seen as a vital step for companies with hazardous facilities to reach the levels of performance being achieved in truly high reliability organisations. Major accidents at Texas City and Buncefield in 2005 marked a watershed for the global process industry and led to general agreement that senior leadership is vital in developing an effective process safety culture. Fast forward over a decade however and evidence suggests that large losses are still happening at a consistently high rate across the global process industry.

In this white paper ABB Consulting presents the findings from analysis of feedback and data from senior process safety professionals. It introduces the concept of the ‘watermelon’ effect, where metrics appear ‘green’ suggesting that everything is under control, and yet digging below the surface reveals signs of ‘red’ indicating ill-health in the arrangements to prevent major accidents. It also investigates what improved metrics are needed to avoid the ‘watermelon’ effect to ensure senior management receives accurate information on the state of risk controls in the business.

The full white paper can be accessed via the download button on the right.

The silo factor

The Silo FactorNew study identifies silo working within process industries.

ABB white paper raises concerns over organizational silos increasing the risk of Major Accident Hazards (MAHs).

ABB’s global engineering and consultancy group, today launched a new white paper which raises concerns of an increased risk of MAHs due to significant levels of silo working in the process industries. 

The ‘silo factor’ was the key theme identified in a new study based on 500 recommendations from 16 in-depth process safety risk assessments carried out by ABB in recent years.

According to the white paper, process safety performance within the high hazard industry is being threatened by the silo factor - an inability within process safety management circles to collaborate and be consistent across all departments in an organization.

ABB has identified five common areas of weakness within Process Safety Management (PSM), all in some way a result of silo approaches to PSM:

  1. Inadequate testing of safeguards
  2. Inadequate Process Hazard Analysis (PHA) records
  3. Inadequate safeguards in place when compared to the risk reduction claimed as part of process safety risk assessments
  4. Poor understanding of the worst case major accident hazard scenarios on site
  5. Lack of clarity about the basis of safe operation and a lack of alignment between emergency response plans and the PHA

Paul Alton, who leads the Process Safety team at ABB’s Consulting business, said:

“We have identified a worrying pattern across the process industries that without urgent attention could be lowering our defenses against major accidents. Having an agreed and consistent approach to process safety management is critical for safe performance. This can only be achieved through integrated and collaborative thinking and processes that encourage a constant focus on MAHs. We want to encourage industry debate that will help to raise awareness of the issue within the high hazard sector with a view to agreeing an industry standard approach to process safety management.”

The full white paper can be accessed via the download button on the top right.
Or view the video - Introduction to The Silo Factor

 

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