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Survey finds process safety stuck in status quo, Sphera says

| By Scott Jenkins

Companies responding to the 2019 Operational Risk and Process Safety Management Survey* conducted by Sphera (Chicago, Ill.;, the largest global provider of integrated risk management software and information services, say safety is an executive level priority for their organizations, but the survey reveals they admit to not doing enough to proactively manage process safety consistently, Sphera says.

The report – the first in a two-part series – uncovers challenging circumstances that keep these organizations locked in the status quo and unable to realize the C-level safety vision and commitment:

  • 49% say loss of experienced personnel due to downsizing, turnover and retirement inhibit the ability to make meaningful changes to mitigate risk.
  • 41% cite aging facilities.
  • 39% say they’ve seen a deterioration in the effectiveness of process safety barriers.

These factors could be contributing to a 21% increase in respondents who are seeing risks increase between periodic safety reviews as compared to 2018 survey results. Further, nearly one-third of respondents indicate that scheduled asset integrity inspections aren’t taking place as planned. This is particularly troubling given the safety gaps posed by worker turnover, aging facilities and process safety barriers, Sphera says.

Another issue, respondents said data are often siloed within companies where one unit isn’t sharing information with another — at least not effectively. Three-quarters (75%) of respondents said their data were siloed, and only 10% said their organization has deployed integrated digital solutions to record risk-relevant data.

“While many companies commit to a safety culture at the highest levels,” said Mike Zamis, Sphera’s chief product officer. “We are concerned by the gaps in operational risk and process safety management processes and people. The good news is we are seeing organizations turning to digital technology to fill those gaps and augment the plant-level experience that may no longer be available.”

  • Part 1 of the report offers analyses of what the findings mean in terms of Major Accident Hazard (MAH) risk awareness on the ground–and proactive risk mitigation.
  • Part 2 of the ORM/PSM report, due out in October, will show how industry operators are addressing planning and prioritization concerns as they move to digital strategies.

To download Part One of the report and watch a short video introduction from Mike Zamis, please visit 2019 Survey on the State of Pocess Safety & Operational Risk Management.

(*Previously this research was conducted by Operational Risk software company Petrotechnics, which Sphera acquired January 2019.)