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Facts at your Fingertips: Safety Instrumented Systems and Risk

By Scott Jenkins, Chemical Engineering magazine |

Within the chemical process industries (CPI), the need to design safety systems to prevent process failures from occurring, or to control them when they do, is well recognized, as is the importance of having confidence in the safety systems that are put in place. However, when formalized, the specific terminology, definitions and concepts are sometimes misunderstood, misinterpreted or implemented incorrectly. Provided here is a review of terms and definitions related to determining safety integrity levels (SILs). Functional safety standards Functional safety refers to the ability of safety-relevant electronic devices to respond reliably and verifiably to signals that they receive. Industry experts have addressed functional safety and formalized an approach for reducing risk in process plants through the development of industry consensus standards. Those most relevant for the CPI include IEC 61508, IEC 61511, and ANSI/ISA 84, developed by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC; Geneva, Switzerland; www.iec.ch) and the International Society of Automation (Research Triangle Park, N.C.; www.isa.org). IEC says the aim of functional safety is to reduce safety risks to tolerable levels and reduce the negative impacts of safety…
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