Posted on: August 16, 2011 Posted by: Diane Swarts Comments: 0

SA chemicals employers want African university undergraduate engineering curriculi to include training in priority process safety elements.

Members of the SA regional Gauteng and KZN Process Safety Forums, hosted by the SA Chemicals and Allied Industries Association, Caia, have selected and recommended crucial process safety elements to be included in engineering training, adding priority ratings and motivations for each process safety element (see detailed list of 37 process safety management elements below).

Some process safety concepts are being taught at universities, but many chemicals employers believe that PS training lacks a coherent, integrated approach.

Chemicals operators want engineers to be trained in Process Hazard Analysis, a process safety risk assessment that should form part of project design and plant modification.

A number of academics from SA universities are members of the two regional Responsible Care Process Safety Forums. University of Cape Town (UCT) chemical engineering department also responded to the CAIA list of priority process safety aspects, and indicated what elements they have already integrated into their engineering curriculum, and how they plan to enhance and add further process safety elements to tertiary training.

UCT has already integrated process safety management system elements, HAZOP, safety and process plant management, event tree analysis, failure modes and effects analysis and understanding and preventing explosions into their curriculum.

Engineering students also learn from major process safety industry incidents, and UCT is considering including quantitative risk assessment and consequence modelling.

Chemicals employers want process safety training integrated into most engineering courses, not as a separate subject. “African universities should make process safety an integral, fundamental part of chemical engineering undergraduate programs”, said CAIA.

The SA PSF is also involving Wits University final year Engineering students in a process safety awareness project.

Meanwhile CAIA and Responsible Care (RC) are developing training material for continued professional development (CPD) of chemical engineers and process operators.

Responding to the proposal from CAIA RC Process Safety Forum (PSF), the University of Cape Town (UCT) said it would enhance and add further process safety elements to its Chemical Engineering curriculum. UCT would include elements 1, 2, 4, 9, 10, 11, 18, 28, which they consider to be of high priority, and had added element 37.

African universities invited to participate

African universities are invited to compare and add chemicals process safety training elements in their engineering courses, by responding to a circular from the SA CAIA Process Safety Forum (PSF) (listed below), and to recommend their priority elements for engineering curriculi of tertiary institutions, with their priority rating and motivations for each process safety element.

Process safety management system elements listed

PSF tertiary curriculum elements proposals are listed below, with a sample of rating and motivations;

1 Process Safety Management System Elements; high priority.

2 Hazard and Operability study, HAZOP, a basic process risk management tool; medium priority, since HAZOP requires detailed P & ID, detailed knowledge of a particular process, and could be time consuming. Hazop offers a means to scrutinise plant sectors for potential deviations from design.

3 Quantitative Risk Assessment (QRA); high priority; UCT had only done qualitative RAs. Adding quantities to risk assessment tools helps to screen alternative designs, however this requires some statistical tools.

4 Safety and process plant management; high priority; how human factors influence accidents is already taught at UCT.

5 Permit to Work; low priority in teaching, since it involves actual plant construction and maintenance issues, while engineering trainers place emphasis on inherently safe process design.

6 Managing change safely (MOC); a managerial issues that should fall under human factors.

7 Hazard indices; high priority.

8 Preliminary hazard analysis; high priority.

9 Failure modes and effects analysis; a risk assessment tool that UCT had presented as qualitative, whereas it should be quantitative.

10 Event tree analysis; a risk assessment tool that UCT had presented as qualitative, whereas it should be quantitative.

11 Fault tree analysis; a risk assessment tool that UCT had presented as qualitative, whereas it should be quantitative.

12 Principles of safety engineering; high priority.

13 Safe plant design computational modelling; high priority; a platform to integrate safety modelling with overall plant design and with the attendant optimisation.

14 Process hazard analysis; high priority.

15 Systematic Assessment of Reactive Chemical Hazards; high priority; essential since major incident investigations found runaway reactions, like at Bhopal and T2 laboratories in USA Florida.

16 Chemical hazard assessment, prevention of runaway reactions, emergency relief design; high priority; essential due to prevalence of runaway reactions causing major disasters. A good way to illustrate the concept of Layers of Protection Analysis (LPA) using the Swiss Cheese Model.

17 Hazardous area classification; essential, however classifications to use depend on outputs from consequence modelling, which is crucial, see item 37.

18 Understanding and Preventing Explosions; high priority; explosions are frequent in process plant disasters. UCT presented fire triangles, dust explosion pentagons, and different kinds of fires and explosions.

19 Layers of Protection Analysis (LOPA); low priority; the Swiss Cheese model could illustrate this concept.

20 Safety Integrity Verification (SIL) verification; relevant to instrument or equipment failure rates. Data sources could be fed into quantitative risk assessment tools.

21 Fundamentals of loss prevention; low priority, relevant to principles of safety engineering already included.

22 Mechanical integrity for process safety and risk management.

23 Compliance auditing for process safety.

24 Fire safety management.

25 Incident Investigation Approaches; low priority; it is better to give chemical engineering students tools with which to design inherently safe process, rather than tools to investigate incidents.

26 Incident Simulation Modelling; this should be applied proactively, to predict consequences of design.

27 Toxicology Basis; high priority; engineering students need ‘immediately dangerous to life or health’ (IDLH) values of various chemicals, as available on MSDSs.

28 Learning from major process safety incidents; high priority; UCT presented numerous USA CSB (chemical safety board) videos, to learn from others’ mistakes by dramatised chains of events.

29 Legal Framework of process safety, local and international; important, but undergrad students may not need legislation details.

30 Management System Integration.

31 MSDS Resources; high priority; essential as a first port of call for values that define materials reactions and hazards.

32 Communication Resources; awareness training, toolbox talks, teamwork.

33 Managing Projects, Contractors, HR Resources.

34 Transport and Handling of materials; high priority; many incidents occur during transportation and handling of hazardous materials, like pipe rupture, emissions. Ability to predict consequences and impact of loss of containment depend on setting up consequence models.

35 Maintenance, Lockout and Plant Startup; high priority; safety considerations are essential at startup and lockout. Such failures have caused major disasters, as at Texas City BP Oil refinery in 2005.

36 Basic Finance Management and Financial Implications for process safety; high priority; engineers must be able to set up models to trade off key competing and interacting parameters in process design, like economics and sheq quantities.

37 Consequence modelling; high prioirity; UCT adds this item, that may be implicit in other items, but could stand alone. This involves predicting potential impacts of plant operation on safety, health and environment, by three stages; emission or release of hazardous materials; dispersion of released materials; effects of dispersed materials. Ability to integrate these models into plant and process design offers a means to evaluate alternative processes upfront, based on economics and sheq quantities.

Process safety education themes

Broad themes emerging from developing consensus in SA process safety education and training are:
• Process safety management system elements
• Safety and process plant management
• Permit to Work
• Process Hazard Analysis (PHA)
• Maintenance, lockout and plant startup
• Management of Change.

Sources; CAIA RC Process Safety Forum survey. UCT response on Chemical Engineering process safety curriculum elements.

PHOTO; Employers and universities are collaborating to identify, formulate and integrate chemical and process safety elements into tertiary engineering curriculi.


Leave a Comment