Integrate Health, Safety, and Environment into Engineering Projects

Published in: HSE
Integrate Health, Safety, and Environment into Engineering Projects
June 23, 2017

Nowadays big oil and gas companies know that the foundation of health, safety and environmental success is a key factor. It is a commitment by everyone in the organization of their personal and collective HSE outcomes: everyone in the organization must value and "own" HSE.


How to insert Health, Safety, and Environment management into Engineering Projects.

Virtuous oil and gas companies have gone beyond the concept of Behavioural Based Safety (BBS). They have standardized the process of early implementation of health, safety, and environmental (HSE) principles to engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) projects. Management must provide leadership not only during the execution phases of big projects, but also in the preliminary phase, integrating the HSE activities into the project schedule, establishing forums (i.e. weekly safety meetings, HSE moments, seminars) where the entire team can contribute and by encouraging open participation. Early definition of the HSE principles and practices to be applied during the operative phase and how HSE excellence will be achieved on the entire project. From pre-FEED and FEED to EPC, commissioning, startup and turnover are important activities that contribute to the project success.

Who reports to whom: how roles and responsibilities are defined

The project HSE management plan will also define the roles and responsibilities of key HSE personnel: large engineering projects usually have several individuals with risk engineering, environmental engineering. This permits to define clearly who report to the project HSE Manager and who work together on both FEED and detailed engineering design, in order to achieve overall HSE excellence. Personnel in other project disciplines, such as process, piping, mechanical, process control, and civil / structural / architectural engineering, also have key roles in assuring HSE success throughout the project. They interface with the HSE team members to ensure that HSE best practices from their disciplines are followed as well.

The scheduling of key HSE tasks and milestones is an integral part of the overall project schedule.

Conducting a preliminary phase: activity and principles

An early HSE analysis allows the identification of project-specific HSE challenges and the selection of the appropriate risk identification and control methods. Among the many factors that can affect successful health, safety, and environmental performance, focus should be given on what is unique about the project at hand, for instance novel technology, local climate, or proximity to infrastructure.

The early conduction of a HSE analysis with open participation of project experts in various disciplines will bring benefits. First of all we have a clear identification of all the challenges in the planning, engineering, construction, commissioning and startup of the facility. For example, emission sources that require environmental permits may affect decisions on equipment layout (i.e. flares and storage tanks) where these permits may take a year or more to obtain. Participation of an experienced HSE professional in these activities may reduce later facility siting issues.

A key early-FEED activity is conducting a preliminary Process Hazard Analysis (PHA) which is generally called out soon after the process flow diagrams (PFDs) have been issued and reviewed. In this moment, Inherently Safer Design (ISD) principles will be looked at.

Based on the scenarios developed in the preliminary PHA, a number of cases will then be modeled through a consequence analysis. This will allows the identified hazards to be ranked by level of risk and provides a guide to risk-management actions, such as the optimal layout of process units and equipment during early plot-plan development. For example, it is important to locate occupied buildings at a safe distance from potentially hazardous units, and design them to withstand any potential residual explosion overpressure. Where there is a risk of a vapor cloud explosion, we have got to amplify the equipment spacing to reduce congestion, since congestion and confinement increase the severity of vapor cloud explosions.

If, for instance, the consequence analysis identifies credible scenarios involving the release of flammable vapors, the boundaries of the classified area might need to be expanded.

Safety Management: which steps have to be prioritized

A fundamental skill of the Health, Safety, and Environment project manager is the correct sequencing of design review stages through the project. Safety review meetings shall be conducted after an engineering review of the design, otherwise the focus of the review meetings can shift to resolution of design issues instead of the safety and operability of the design.

A preliminary Safety Integrity Level (SIL) assessment provides a more-accurate basis for estimating the cost and complexity of the Safety Instrumented System(SIS) for the facility, and enables the SIS design to be developed early.

Because the plant design remains preliminary during FEED, the assigned SIL values must be reassessed during detailed engineering. During FEED, assigning SIL values based on a layer-of-protection analysis (LOPA) is preferred over quantitative risk assessment (QRA). This is because LOPA is much quicker than QRA but still achieves a semi-quantitative evaluation of the risks of specific scenarios.

Conducting the detailed Design Phase and producing the Hazard Register

During the detailed design phase, a HAZOP should be conducted after the P&IDs are issued for design. Participation of a process safety professional in the Safety P&ID review is recommended. Next, update and complete the LOPA and SIL assessment, and then finalize the design for the safety instrumented system.

The hazard register is an evergreen document that monitors and tracks identified hazards until they have been successfully eliminated, controlled, or mitigated.

Change management becomes finalized after the detailed PHA is complete. After that, all changes to the P&IDs and other key documents must be reviewed for potential HSE impacts.

Major process-facility projects may ultimately involve hundreds or thousands of people in engineering, procurement, and construction, as well as the subsequent commissioning and startup. Early planning and application of HSE principles during engineering are essential to minimize risks to personnel and the environment throughout the lifecycle of a process plant. Each engineering discipline and project function can contribute significantly to the overall safety of a facility by applying the best practices of that discipline. Best HSE practices involve all members of the project team in cooperative efforts to achieve project HSE success.


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