Perform an Evaluation of Your Process Safety Culture - Safetip #180

Safety Tip and Best Practice
July 24, 2019

This week’s Safetip is about performing periodic evaluations of your process safety culture at your facilities.

Personal Safety and Process Safety Are Different

Last month, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released its final investigation report into a 2014 toxic release at a chemical facility.

In its report, the CSB highlights the importance of assessing and evaluating your process safety culture at each facility.

Personal safety performance and process safety performance are two different safety measures that facilities should evaluate. Worker injury statistics are not an effective indicator of the quality of process safety management systems or process safety culture, the CSB says.

10 Core Principles of Process Safety Culture

According to the Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS), a positive safety culture is “the pattern of shared written and unwritten attitudes and behavioral norms that positively influence how a facility or company collectively supports the successful execution and improvement of its Process Safety Management System (PSMS) resulting in preventing process safety incidents”.

In its book Essential Practices for Creating, Strengthening, and Sustaining Process Safety Culture, the CCPS identifies the following 10 core principles of process safety culture:

1) Establish an Imperative for Process Safety. Production is not possible without process safety.
2) Provide Strong Leadership. Leaders inspire others to process safety excellence and “Walk the talk”.
3) Foster Mutual Trust. Everyone does what they say and says what they mean.
4) Ensure Open and Frank Communications. Communication channels are open and encouraged, and the messenger is not blamed.
5) Maintain a Sense of Vulnerability. There is a healthy level of “respect” for hazards and risks at the facility and the company.
6) Understand and Act Upon Hazards/Risks. Hazards and risks are analyzed, controlled with appropriate safeguards, and managed.
7) Empower Individuals to Successfully Fulfill Their Safety Responsibilities. Workers have authority and resources to perform assigned process safety roles.
8) Defer to Expertise. Technical knowledge related to process safety is valued and technical opinions are accepted.
9) Combat the Normalization of Deviance. Deviance from approved rules and standards are never tolerated.
10) Learn to Assess and Advance the Culture. Culture lessons-learned are sought internally and externally. Learnings are used to maintain and enhance the culture.

The CSB report says that process safety culture can affect whether a site has a sense of vulnerability in terms of process safety management risks; complacency or overconfidence; and transparent, timely, and thorough responses to PSM concerns, action items, and issues, including leadership measures to prevent a “check-the-box” mentality. Process safety culture assessments can identify process safety weaknesses.

One tool to evaluate a facility’s process safety culture is the use of anonymous process safety culture assessments of staff, the CSB says. These assessments are conducted through multiple-choice questionnaires.

Facilities can also use qualitative assessments that go beyond employee questionnaire surveys, including personnel interviews, focus group discussions, and detailed document analyses.

Each week we publish a Safetip where we share a safety tip or best practice that contributes to safety excellence. Visit Enablon Insights again next Wednesday for a new Safetip!

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Verdantix Software Benchmark: Process Safety Management



Jean-Grégoire Manoukian

Content Thought Leader