Safety Design Reviews During Plant Projects
The best time to incorporate safety into a piece of equipment or a machine or into plant facility updates is during the design process when all that is being changed are lines on a drawing before any equipment is purchased, constructed, or installed. When safety is added during the construction and installation phase, it is called retrofitting and is more costly than when done during the design phase. This is most applicable to non-Process Safety Management projects.
Conducting Safety Design Reviews at specific times during the design phase will incorporate safety and eliminate or control hazards in the workplace as they relate to the new equipment, process equipment, or facility updates.
A Safety Design Review includes a compliance evaluation, hazard assessments, and risk assessments, as needed.
During the design process, the design is evaluated against applicable government regulations and industry standards. The compliance evaluation ensures the design complies with the requirements of the applicable government regulations and industry standards. The evaluation may be simple and upon compliance the design moves onto the construction and installation phases. Otherwise, for more complex project designs it may be necessary to verify the compliance at various stages of the design and construction phases.
Hazard assessments are used to identify basic operator tasks, potential hazards, and actual or possible control measures. The hazard assessment is updated as more information and knowledge of the process and equipment is learned or developed.
Risk Assessments can be used during any phase or review process to establish a risk score for the hazard or set of hazards. Using the risk score, priorities can be set for addressing and controlling the hazards or sets of hazards. The risk assessment process and the risk score can be used as a basis to determine the lowest possible level of acceptable risk.
Safety Design Reviews can be conducted at various points during the design phases and should be started as early in the design process as possible even as part of the project initiation stage. A Safety Professional should be involved in the design process early to help establish safety performance criteria that needs to be included as the design evolves. By addressing safety through the design phase, before the construction and installation phases, it is easier and significantly less costly to implement safety early in design and avoid the increasing costs of retrofitting. Doing the Safety Design Review early in the design process makes it easier to reduce risk to an acceptable level.
In the Safety Design Review process, the goal is to avoid bringing hazards into the workplace. The Safety Design Review is a proactive approach that anticipates hazards and potential hazards to avoid bringing them into the workplace with this new equipment or process or facility update. The Safety Design Review conducted early in the design process and then throughout the design of the project is cost-effective and is a more-efficient design process that facilitates a design that meets both design and safety performance criteria before it is released for construction and installation. Otherwise, any changes to the design after construction or installation is called retrofit and is extremely costly.
There are several objectives that drive Safety Design Reviews:
• To identify and eliminate or control hazards
• To ensure compliance with applicable government regulations and industry standards
• To resolve the identified safety issues and hazards
• To contain project costs by reducing redesign and rework – retrofitting
Safety Design Reviews are best conducted by, or lead by, a Safety Professional. While an Engineer is familiar with the components and the design, understanding technical aspects of the project ensuring the project meets the defined production criteria, generally speaking, they may not be experienced to view a design from the operator or worker perspective. Safety Professionals have a different focus in that they look at a design and how a component or worker could fail potentially causing injury. The Safety Professional has spent considerable time on the plant floor having experience identifying hazards in the workplace, and understands how equipment is used or misused by the operator or worker. In many cases, the Safety Professional will be more familiar with the tasks users perform and can identify any associated hazards. This information is useful by the Safety Professional so that hazards can be identified with control measures developed and integrated into the design and not after the equipment is built which is consider retrofit and is extremely costly. An additional benefit would be if the Safety Professional had actual design experience working with engineers and designers or was a designer that took the information from the engineer and turned it into a working design that was safe and could be constructed and installed. This type of Safety Professional may not be on staff at small to medium-sized companies so the service may have to be outsourced.
For more information on conducting Safety Design Reviews, contact Wayne Vanderhoof CSP at RJR Safety Inc at firstname.lastname@example.org .