What is process safety?

Process safety is all the talk nowadays, but what is process safety?

As a broad definition:

The phrase process safety is used to describe production and processing activities on high hazard sites which carry the potential to cause widespread damage.

An unsafe process could, for instance, lead to fatalities, injuries and environmental damage. This differs to personal safety accidents whereby impact of the event is often far more isolated. 

To really get to grips with process safety though, let’s break it down into its two constituent parts:

‘process’ and yep, you’ve got it, ‘safety’.

What do we mean by ‘process’?

A process pertains to any activity – or combination of activities – which involve the use, storage, manufacturing, handling and movement of hazardous substances.

What do we mean by safety?

Think of safety as our individual and collective sense of being and feeling safe at work. This freedom from danger isn’t merely a product of positive thinking, though. It is cultivated by control systems and engineering functions designed to prevent or reduce the risk of injury and incidents.

Two becomes one

Process + Safety =
A blend of engineering, management, and operational skills focused on preventing catastrophic accidents; particularly explosions, fires, and toxic releases associated with the use of chemicals and petroleum products.”

Source: Centre for Chemical Process Safety

Training tip
“Think of process safety as relating to incidents that typically have a low likelihood of happening but, when they do, the consequences are far higher.”

Alan Oxborough, Reynolds Training Services process safety specialist

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