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Improving the effectiveness of process safety management in small companies



Major accidents are continuing to injure people, and damage facilities and the environment. About 50% of these accidents are in plants that are covered by process safety management (PSM) and 50% are in smaller plants that are not covered. However, the damage is the same. Clearly the OSHA PSM regulation and recommendations by CSB, CCPS, PSP, etc. are not being used as specified. The objective of this paper is to express an enthusiastic support for these major excellent recommendations and to make a few additional recommendations that should enhance those previously listed. This article describes (a) specifically designed methods to improve the implementation of PSM and the above-mentioned recommendations and (b) additional plant practices for preventing accidents. The methods and practices presented in this article are especially important for smaller plants; most of the larger companies already have good systems to prevent accidents. However, since many of the large accidents are in PSM-covered plants, some of these larger plants may also benefit from these additional recommendations.

One recommendation is that small companies, although not covered by PSM, should practice the intent of the regulation. At a minimum, companies should develop a document that is at least similar to the PSM documentation. However, this article emphasizes that this documentation is not enough because the management of the requirements is extremely difficult. Companies need to have a system that includes the PSM documents, communication, delegation, and follow-up to insure that the requirements are practiced as intended.

Based on the author's experience, the use of additional plant practices such as an effective management system, internal audits, walk-the-line, and checklists will enhance the utilization of PSM. These practices are easy to use and will prevent accidents. More of these methods and practices are needed and should be shared between companies. © 2008 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Process Saf Prog, 2008