479214 How Culture Effects the Implementation of Process Safety Program Elements

Monday, March 27, 2017: 11:30 AM
217AB (Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center)
Michael Hazzan, AcuTech Group, Inc., Vienna, VA

Culture underpins everything in a process safety program. Without a sound underlying culture even the most elegantly designed process safety management systems will not be successfully implemented. Every element of a process safety program has specific cultural aspects on its various procedures, activities, and decision making. Exploring each of the 20 RBPS elements is beyond the scope of this paper, so we will examine the cultural aspects of two important process safety elements:
  • Conduct of Operations

  • Management of Change

Conduct of Operations includes basic operational discipline issues such as following approved operating and other procedures, executing emergency shutdown, and stop work authority. But it also includes other related important issues such as fatigue, alarm management, and others. The process safety culture affects this element in many ways, including possible hesitance to initiate an emergency shutdown without supervisor concurrence, hesitance to confront co-workers and stop work when it is not being performed safely, or recommend not following an operation because of its potential to cause a process safety incident. The conflict between excessive overtime and the fatigue that it can cause and the extra compensation that it generates is also a cultural issue in Conduct of Operations.

Management of Change (MOC) is a classic process safety element that has been a contributor in many large-scale process safety incidents over the years. The success or failure of MOC is directly a function of the underlying culture. First, do all facility personnel truly believe in MOC, or is it considered an administrative burden that must be endured? Do all personnel understand and believe that even seemingly simple and obvious changes must be deliberately examined for possible process safety and safety impacts? Are there conflicts of interest in MOC reviews and approvals? Are MOCs reviewed and approved in individually and in isolation or are they reviewed and approved in meetings. There are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches.

These and other cultural influences on these two important process safety elements will be described in more detail. The cultural aspects and influences will also be described in terms of their effects on the core principles of process safety culture, e.g., the Normalization of Deviance, Maintaining a Sense of Vulnerability, Understanding and Acting Upon Hazards/Risks, etc.

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