Process Safety from Scratch

Tuesday, April 3, 2012 @ 03:04 PM gHale

By Gregory Hale
One way to ensure a company is able to begin a new initiative like process safety is to start with a blank page and build from there; no memory, no baggage, no political motives. Start from ground zero.

That was what Maria Clara Barros e Silva Saraiva experienced at Brazil-based petrochemical company, Braskem.

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“I was an electrical engineer,” she said at the AIChE Spring Meeting and the Global Congress on Process Safety in Houston Tuesday.” I knew nothing about process safety. I was a blank page.”

With the company focused on a decentralized safety environment, Saraiva wanted to get a group focused on process safety to be able to work together and ensure a safe environment at the plant.

The problem was the people that had been working process control were not used to taking responsibility for safety, they all felt it was the job of the safety people or the plant’s leadership, but Saraiva felt if there was a operational group, they could all be on the same page and understand what they had to do to get the job done.

“Creation of the group was important to develop a culture of safety,” Saraiva said.

They came up with a series of indicators they could monitor to show just how they were doing from a process safety perspective.

One of the indicators was to monitor a safety index Braskem implemented in 2011. They had a targeted safety index of 85 percent. In the first month they calculated the index, Braskem had a process safety incident where they lost quite a bit of lube oil. Instead of hiding from the accident, they were able to learn from it and move forward.

One of the other indicators was the show a movie on some famous safety incidents that occurred over the years, Bhopal, Texas City, Piper Alpha to name a few. “People could talk about it afterward. It showed how important it is to follow procedures,” she said.