EHS NewsmakersAn oil company’s adoption of process safety management (PSM) is the subject of an article in the November issue of Professional Safety, the American Society of Safety Engineers’ (ASSE) journal.

A string of disasters in oil refineries and plants that produce materials such as fertilizer and chemicals has drawn global attention to the industry’s safety practices. When released, chemicals can have a major impact on workers, surrounding communities or facilities. The consequences of these incidents have significant life-threatening, environmental, legal and financial implications.

Although PSM is still in the early stages in India, that country’s Essar Oil, Limited decided to adopt it. The  OSHA-developed process designed to minimize the consequences of a catastrophic release of toxic, reactive, inflammable or explosive chemicals by providing an environment for improvement and increased awareness of the safety impacts of technology, personnel and management of process hazards.

Essar Oil, which produces nearly 400,000 barrels per day, began the PSM process integration in 2010.

The company adopted a basic framework consisting of 13 elements based on the OSHA rule and Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS) guidelines, as well as guidelines in India. The elements accepted into the Essar Oil PSM framework are; employee participation, process safety information, process hazard analysis, operating procedures, training, contractor safety management, pre-startup safety review, mechanical integrity, hot work permit, management of change, incident investigation, emergency planning and response and compliance audits.

Implementation of PSM at the refinery occurred in phased, beginning with employee participation. Each phase also referred to three pillars of integrity – Operational, Plant and Design Integrity.

“The inclusion of employees in all aspects of process safety has been the point that has enabled its implementation in the refinery,” explained Gopal Jayaraman, Ph.D, the article’s author.

As of August, 2013, Essar Oil has achieved over 2,000 Lost Time Injury (LTI)-Free Days and over 1500 major fire-free days.

“Implementing PSM in the refinery has been a fruitful challenge,” said Jayaraman. “The approach that it provides guides us in the formation of a positive safety culture within the complex.”