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Keywords:

  • safety analysis;
  • software safety;
  • computing systems;
  • process safety management

Software and automation can play a significant role with respect to safety in the chemical process and energy production industries. Because computing systems are increasingly used to control critical functions, software may directly contribute to an accident. On the other hand, software can also be used as part of the hazard control strategy to reduce risks, and computing systems can provide valuable information to help make safety decisions. The importance of including software as part of an organization's efforts to analyze and manage hazards and risks seems clear, but for many organizations software is not effectively incorporated into process safety efforts. This article reviews lessons learned from accidents and incidents to illustrate the potential for a software-related accident even when process safety management tools and techniques are used. This discussion is intended to provide insights to help improve process safety and software safety efforts. © 2013 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Process Saf Prog 33: 124–130, 2014