Safety research highlighting key ‘drivers’

Results of our first survey into safety issue in the oil and gas industry have shown that concerns over risks to personnel and the environment are key drivers for the implementation of international safety standards for instrumentation.

It will be interesting to see how the results of that survey – which concentrated on Safety Integrity Levels (SIL) – compare with the results of the second (still current) survey which focuses on the Pressure Equipment Director (PED). You can take part in our PED survey (since closed). One lucky participant will win a Kindle for taking part.

Our ‘SIL survey’ gathered the opinions of senior engineers worldwide with technical design and management roles within their organisations. It showed that when specifying flowmeters and other instruments, environmental safety (70 per cent) was cited as the main reason for safety standard compliance, followed by business-critical concerns including personnel safety (59 per cent) and maintaining process integrity (65 per cent).

Risks of injury to personnel (70 per cent), risk of explosion (65 per cent) and damage to the environment (50 per cent) were the chief concerns relating to the consequences of equipment failure. Business concerns including costs of shutdown (25 per cent) and damage to equipment (15 per cent) were of less significance.

While the majority of companies in the oil and gas sector comply with an international safety standard for instrument specification a significant number ? almost 40 per cent ? do not, the survey found. However, most of these stated that they will be seeking to comply with an international safety standard in the future where relevant.

One of the aims of the research was to find out to what extent engineers use SIL in specifying equipment and what reliance they place upon it.

Almost 40 per cent said that SIL level 1 was the minimum acceptable for instrumentation in their operations with 22 per cent citing level 2, 26 per cent stating level 3 and just 13 per cent saying that the highest level (level 4) is the minimum acceptable.

We wanted to make sure that our manufacturing focus is on safety in relation to both the environment and industry trends. These figures show that by complying with SIL we have a reliable benchmark for safety and reliability.

SIL was considered to be an effective measure of safety performance by 70 per cent of respondents but 54 per cent believed that a lack of consistency in applying SIL across all functional safety standards significantly affects trust in products designed to work in particular SIL level environments.

Now we are asking a similar range of questions about PED and with a similar purpose.

There has been increased focus on safety issues in the offshore sector over recent years. We want to make sure that our manufacturing focus is on safety in relation to both the environment and industry trends.

SIL is the degree of likelihood that a safety instrumented function will operate effectively when it is required to. Four SILs are defined within the European Functional Safety standards based on the IEC 61508 standard, SIL 4 being the most dependable and SIL 1 being the least, taking into account such things as the development process and safety life cycle management.

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