Zento Global Solutions - Process safety on older facilities

When designing a new facility, good practice and relevant standards can be adopted at relatively low cost in order to reduce risks as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP), provided that standards are correctly specified and adopted from the earliest stages of a project.

For highly hazardous sites especially, it is expected that the operator has a complete understanding of all the relevant good practice related to the site, activities and chemicals concerned. Suitable controls should be in place to address all significant hazards and those controls, as a minimum, should implement authoritative good practice irrespective of situation-based risk estimates.

Good practice is relevant to risks across the entire site; each plant section is typically assessed separately, and then a composite view of the site risks compiled, which includes general site risks. As a result, there may be a wide variety of good practice that needs to be considered.

Good practice is expected to maximise the use of inherent safety, to eliminate or avoid risks where possible, and to control the risk at source physically if possible. It should also minimise the need for procedural controls and personal protective equipment.

For a high-hazard situation, for example where there is potential for a large number of people to be harmed in a single event, then meeting good practice alone may be insufficient and additional risk-reduction measures may be necessary to reduce the risks ALARP. These should be assessed using cost-benefit analysis to identify those that are proportionate and those that are grossly disproportionate.

Good practice may change over time as a result of experience, changes in management practices, cost-base improvements or technological advances, which could all change the expectation of what is established good practice. Therefore, it should not be assumed that what was once good practice remains so indefinitely.

Ageing assets

The question often arises as to whether an existing plant or installation should be expected to comply to the same base standards as for new assets; in other words, it should be in full compliance with all international standards and relevant good practice required for a plant that was built in the '70s, '80s, '90s (predating the standards), or one that has been modified or expanded in the '00s.

When dealing with older assets, the costs associated with demonstrating that the facility meets the requirements of the current standards can be significant, especially where a review indicates that equipment upgrades are required.

To enable a decision as to whether a retrofit is reasonably practicable, it is necessary to assess the reduction in risk (benefit) provided by any upgrades and weigh that up against the cost of such improvements.

The experience

Zento Global Solutions has experience of working with ageing facilities, where the gap to a tolerable risk level is wide and the retrofit of new technologies to reduce the risk is challenging. The company has worked with operators in the onshore and offshore oil and gas industries to assess their facilities against good practice, facilitate the identification of additional risk reduction measures and assess those measures using cost-benefit analysis.

Zento Global Solutions has significant experience of working in locations where a safety case regulatory framework is in place, such as the UK, Europe and Australia, and where there is a need to demonstrate that the facility meets relevant good practice and risks have been reduced as low as reasonably practicable. The company works closely with its clients to help them achieve best-in-class safety performance at minimum cost.

By selecting Zento Global Solutions, you gain the benefits of a strategic partner who understands that your business needs to maximise safety and profitability.

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Zento Global Solutions
URL: www.zentoglobal.com

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