The introduction of IEC 61508 provided safety system practitioners with the first internationally accepted generic benchmark policy for safety-related systems. However, many practitioners find the way in which the standard is often presented and promoted quite intimidating. But, there is no need to be intimidated. The grassroots rationale of the standard is fundamental common sense, and there have been significant developments in practical software aids that remove the pain.

An optimal design can lead to considerable capital cost savings from focused Safety Integrity Level (SIL) assessment, component selection, and logic simplification. Experience shows that up to 40% savings can be achieved with the aid of software tools at the design stage.

Full life cycle considerations also require alignment of a design with appropriate maintenance and testing strategies. This can afford significant opportunities to reduce maintenance and testing costs, production deferment, and the avoidance of nuisance trips. These opportunities become very achievable with the aid of software tools.

Software tools can help to achieve these not insignificant benefits by aiding design, and setting optimal testing and maintenance calculations to meet SIL requirements.