Use Leading Indicators to Improve a PSM Program - Safetip #202

Safety Tip and Best Practice
March 04, 2020

Our latest Safetip is about selecting and using leading indicators to improve a process safety management (PSM) program.

Evaluate the Performance of a PSM Program

For oil and gas, chemicals, heavy manufacturing, and other asset-intensive industries, the unexpected or accidental releases of toxic, reactive, or flammable liquids and gases in processes involving highly hazardous chemicals can be disastrous.

A process safety management (PSM) program helps to identify, evaluate and control hazards associated to processes using dangerous chemicals.

An effective PSM program protects workers, improves operational efficiency, and helps to comply with OSHA’s PSM standard, the EU’s Seveso III Directive, the UK’s Control of Major Accident Hazards regulations (COMAH), and other regulations.

A PSM program that is not effective can produce potentially severe consequences. This is why you should evaluate the performance of your PSM program through leading indicators, and make necessary improvements.

Which Leading Indicators?

What are the leading indicators that you can track to assess the performance of your PSM program? There are two sources that provide good ideas.

First, a few years ago, OSHA surveyed examples of metrics used by facilities enrolled in its Voluntary Protection Program (VPP). Leading indicators are mentioned in this EHS Daily Advisor article.

Second, the Campbell Institute published An Implementation Guide to Leading Indicators. The guide lists dozens of examples of leading indicators, some of which are relevant to PSM.

Here’s a set of leading indicators that you can use to evaluate the performance of your PSM program, created by combining both lists. The metrics are grouped by category.

Process Hazard Analysis (PHA)

  • Number of completed PHAs
  • Number of overdue PHAs
  • Scheduled vs. completed PHAs

Management of Change (MOC)

  • Number of approved MOCs
  • Number of overdue MOCs
  • Number of significant equipment or process changes occurring
  • Number of new assessments for changes in processes or equipment

Mechanical Integrity

  • Number of unexpected equipment failures
  • Number of minutes of down time
  • Number of scheduled inspections for relief valves, piping, pressure vessels, and storage tanks, completed on time.
  • Status of variance requests as part of a Mechanical Integrity program

Preventive Maintenance

  • Completion rates
  • Overdue safety-critical preventive maintenance

It may feel overwhelming to track every single leading indicator mentioned above. But keep in mind that you can start with just a few, even only one, and gradually add more over the years. The key is just to start somewhere!

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Jean-Grégoire Manoukian

Content Thought Leader