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Promoting commitment to process safety


  • This article was originally presented at the 9th Global Congress on Process Safety, San Antonio, TX, 29 April to 1 May 2013.


Successful implementation of process safety management (PSM) typically requires the use of a combination of physical and procedural safeguards. Ideally, these safeguards must be maintained in a constant state of readiness throughout the life of the process facility. The management system provides the framework for maintaining and sustaining these safeguards, but the critical ingredient that ensures that the work gets done is the individual employee's commitment to PSM. Game theory provides a useful framework for understanding how an organization can foster cooperation between management and its employees toward the common goal of safety. Using a specific game-theoretical model known as the repeated Prisoner's Dilemma, it is shown how cooperative behavior is the natural consequence of a balanced system of rewards and penalties. Here, the term “balanced” means that both employees and their managers are subject to this system of rewards and penalties. By implementing a balanced framework for feedback, an organization can promote a commitment to process safety by fostering cooperation between both the employees and the managers. © 2013 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Process Saf Prog 32: 319–321, 2013