Alabbasi: a process safety culture is a must

Alabbasi: a process safety culture is a must

Process safety in focus

Gaining top management commitment on process safety is one of the main critical factors for implementing a successful process safety strategy, say experts in process safety

October 2017

Process safety is a discipline designed to prevent the unintentional releases of industrial chemicals, energy or other hazardous materials. But as the hydrocarbon industry is set to grow, there are more chances of incidents taking place. Already a number of recent incidents in various parts of the world have highlighted the increasing importance of effective process safety management. In addition to the immediate human, environmental and financial costs, there have been: increased scrutiny by regulators and governments, impacts upon the share prices of involved companies, causing investors to question the security of their investments and the escalating effects upon the reputations of companies, their senior executives and the industry as a whole.

Most well organised companies can tell you how many incidents they had yesterday, however, the real challenge is to be able to answer the question. “How likely am I to have an incident-free day tomorrow?”

“There needs to be effective and comprehensive risk assessments to mitigate process safety incidents, as companies may find their license to operate removed with the occurrence of a single process safety event.” said Hafedh Al-Qassab, general manager, Refining, Bapco.

The critical factors for implementing a successful process safety strategy, according to Al-Qassab, depends on a dedicated process safety expert, staff dedicated to process safety, awareness training, comprehensive process safety benchmarks and KPIs, the use of API 754 and a focus on Tier 3 and 4 are important in implementing a successful strategy.

Answering the same question, Yasser Abdulrahim Alabbasi, plants operation manager, Gulf Petrochemical Industries Co (GPIC), said: “critical factors include gaining top management commitment on process safety.”

Al-Qassab: increasing awareness is a key issue

Al-Qassab: increasing awareness is a key issue

“Organisations have to ensure that within their workforce, there are adequately trained and competent process safety professionals who can translate process safety requirements into everyday work activities and have an audit system that ensures that process safety implementation is effective and well maintained within the organisation. Of course, the aim should be to continually improve the organisation’s overall process safety performance,” he says.

Excerpts from the interview:


What do you see are the key topics and issues in process safety?

Hafedh Al-Qassab: “A key issue in process safety is increasing awareness and understanding. We need to educate more of the workforce on process safety risk assessment tools, as we need to ensure that it does not become a highly technical subject matter expert issue. A key concern we have at the moment is in carrying out effective risk assessments. Too often we see risk assessments being carried out, through comprehensive and well developed processes, but the final deliverable does not identify the key/high risks.This is a matter of competency and training.”


What are the key priorities for process safety in the region that will be highlighted during the Technical Programme of MEPSC?

Hafedh Al-Qassab: “Priorities are lesson learning/sharing, and getting across the message that we all need to feel vulnerable, to make sure that we stay aware and drive home the message that a more reliable facility is a safer one. The need for effective and comprehensive risk assessments to mitigate process safety events will be a key take-away, as our license to operate could be removed with a single process safety event.”


Which strategies and practices are in place for improving process safety in the region?

Hafedh Al-Qassab: “It is difficult to say until the forum is completed to hear what others have to say. You can turn this question around and say that this will be a deliverable for Item 2 above.”

Yasser Abdulrahim Alabbasi: “In the MEPSC programme we ensured that a good mix of regional experiences, best practices, identification of Process Safety KPIs as well as sharing of case studies are incorporated in the Technical Programme. We are confident that participants will have adequate material that will help them to strategise and improve Process Safety within their own organisations.”


What are the latest methods for improving hazard identification and risk analysis procedures?

Hafedh Al-Qassab: “Again, we should hear this in the technical sessions, and it is these take-aways that organisations can use to improve their own process safety processes.”

Yasser Abdulrahim Alabbasi: “There are many quantitative and qualitative methods for hazards identification and we in MEPSC have ensured that the participants will be introduced to some of the world›s latest and best methods currently employed in the Process industry.”


How can best practice be implemented to ensure a sound safety culture?

Hafedh Al-Qassab: “Has to be led from the top.  The Board needs to get involved and understand the importance of process safety, and at Bapco, every Board meeting opens with a discussion on Tier 1 and 2 process safety events and investigation status and findings. When questions get asked from the top, the rest will follow.  We need to focus on process safety as much as we do on personnel safety. The two go hand-in-hand.”

Yasser Abdulrahim Alabbasi: “The best way is to establish a Process Safety culture within the organisation and to sustain it through continual improvement and enhancement. Process Safety needs to be part and parcel of everyday work just like normal health and safety. Only then we can ensure its long term sustainability.”

Addressing critical challenges, the second CCPS – Middle East Process Safety Conference and Exhibition, which takes place from 9-11 October at the Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Centre aims to focus on operational excellence through effectively managing risk and reliability. Through collective industry experience, engineering practices and leadership traits that drive the industry to a zero harm-culture will be discussed at the conference.

Technical speakers from Siemens Energy, Texas A&M University in Qatar, AcuTech Consulting Group, Air Products, BAPCO, Nomac, SABIC, IoMosaic Corporation, Saudi Aramco, GPIC, DuPont Sustainable Solutions, Sadara Chemical Company, ABS Group Inc, Insight Numerics, CGE Risk Management Solutions, Process Improvement Institute and Takreer will delve deep into topics focusing on Hazard Identification and Risk Analysis, Incident Management and Business Continuity, Inherently Safer Design, Management of Change, Mechanical Integrity, Process Safety Leadership and Culture and much more.

Organised by AIChE’s Center for Chemical Process Safety, CCPS-MEPSC is the Middle East conference for stakeholders in the process industries who recognise the business value of process safety and have committed to process safety as a strategic priority and core value in all of their operations.

For more information, visit: www.mepsc.org

More Stories