Process safety - the ultimate team sport
Kerin, Trish
Eglezos, Phil

How to Cite

Kerin T., Eglezos P., 2022, Process safety - the ultimate team sport, Chemical Engineering Transactions, 90, 787-792.


If we think about a business, there are many parallels with a sporting team. There is a leader of the business, or the coach. There are department leaders, or the captain. There are personnel across the business with different skills and roles, or the players and trainers. Ultimately there is the company objectives or the scoreboard.
So how is this related at all to process safety? When it comes to process safety in a business, different parts of the organisation have different roles to play. We understand that the striker, goal shooter or forward, to name a few positions, have a very specific tasks on the field. A player skilled in offence may not fare well in defence. That is not to say they cannot learn to play in new positions, but when they are in defence they need to play defence.
We sometimes hear different roles or disciplines claim that process safety is their domain but given the breadth of impact and influence over a company, it must be a multi-discipline approach. Consider for example the engineering input into designing and operating a processing plant. You may have as series of pumps with interconnected piping. A true multi-discipline approach would include the chemical engineer focused on with the product being pumped, the mechanical engineer focused on with the rotating equipment, the civil engineer focused on with the piping routes and equipment foundations and the electrical/instrumentation engineer focused on the power supply and control systems. Expanding beyond the engineering disciplines, procurement is involved in sourcing of equipment and spares to meet the safety requirements, as specified by the engineers. Product quality may be focused on ensuring that the plant functions as intended, and the products do not pose a threat to the facility. Finance may be focused on accounting for product, and for example, if there are losses it could indicate a leaking pipe. Each of these roles have a specific skill set and task, like key positions on a sporting team. Like a sporting team it is critical to have everyone working toward the same objective, whether it be winning games or delivering safe production.
This paper will use a sporting team as an analogy to describe a multi-discipline approach to process safety. To assist with broad understanding across multiple roles, it will explore past incidents which could have been prevented or mitigated with a multi-discipline approach.