NEW HIGH TECNOLOGY! Kalle Heiska science journalist
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5 Sept 2000

New challenges for process industry safety

process industry safety
photograph: Katja Luoma

Safety in the process industry and its continuous development is a challenge. More and more companies are being networked into the industry's production processes. The boundaries of responsibility are being blurred because the principal clients, contractors and even subcontractors have their own concepts of safety.

Because of the outsourcing of functions, risks can be increased by outside personnel working in factory areas: dangerous situations arise if a person has poor knowledge of a plant and its safety instructions. Many companies also divide up functions among different contractors, and this too blurs the boundaries of responsibility.

Over 50 process safety experts, industry representatives, officials and researchers have stated that uniform safety practices must be developed for the process industry in order to reduce the number of accidents and production disruptions, and to improve the industry's image. Safety obligations and responsibilities must be made clearer, and safe working practices must be emphasised in the industry's training.

The design of processes and plants is the stage at which the foundation for process safety is laid. The definition of project requirements is a critical factor for the achievement of a successful outcome. Companies amass knowledge and practical experience of safety, and its exploitation is assisted by means of IT and new technologies. This became clear in a study carried out by VTT Automation.

The study was jointly commissioned by the Safety Technology Authority (Tukes), the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the National Technology Agency (Tekes) and the Finnish Work Environment Fund. The parties will use the study as the basis for the first in-depth research programme covering the entire field of process safety. The research projects will focus on exploitation of the latest safety know-how, the

Anna-Mari Heikkilä

development of human and organisational working methods, safety assurance in networked operations,
and how plants can be designed and built to operate safely. The results of the projects will benefit all industrial branches.

Additional information: VTT Automation, Anna-Mari Heikkilä, tel. +358 3 316
3490, mobile 040 715 3641.

Feel free to use all news. Photographs copyright Kalle Heiska.
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