Its Impact On Environment, Health, And Safety; And Process Safety

                                   By E. Merrick, J. Young, A. Parra, G. Egan
In today's world of increasing demand and global
competition, it has become critical to reduce
production costs in order to retain market share.
One of the biggest challenges facing producers is
how to maintain their production plants at the
appropriate level to meet corporate goals while, at
the same time, reducing production costs.
Typically, plant maintenance must be performed
using a limited (or shrinking) resource base.
Therefore, optimizing the use of these limited resources has become increasingly
important. The resources that are dedicated to plant maintenance are a significant and
manageable segment of production costs. Optimization of resources for operations,
maintenance, and (where appropriate) component life extension must be based on a
knowledge of (1) the overall goals for the plant and (2) corporate management
expectations for return on investment. From both the plant and corporate management
perspective, it is more economical to prevent plant upsets and incidents (such as
accidents, leaks, ruptures, and explosions) than to recover from them, particularly where
environmental damage or personnel injuries may occur.
These facts lead us to address the following key questions:
How is the process of optimization achieved? 1.
How can more product be generated at lower costs using aging equipment, much of
which has lived beyond its original design life?
To answer these tough questions, the first
step involves developing a maintenance
prioritization scheme based on risk
management concepts. To thread the best
economic path through the maze of
options, Aptech Engineering Services, Inc.
(APTECH) has developed a practical
approach to risk-based prioritization that
can serve as a roadmap to the
achievement of optimized production costs.
Process Description
APTECH's risk ranking procedure begins with an 8-Step Technical Analysis for
determining which equipment should be covered when implementing a Mechanical
Integrity Program. To perform this procedure, all equipment must be identifiable, accurate
process description and equipment drawings must be available, and an effective
documentation program must be in place at the facility.
This procedure was written to provide guidance and assistance in identifying equipment to
include in the implementation of a company's Mechanical Integrity Program. It is not
intended to replace any previous or subsequent procedures established to assure safe
plant operation and maintenance. It is supplied to aid in identifying equipment and
justifiably excluding some systems/equipment from the Mechanical Integrity Program, in
order to minimize the impact on company resources.
This is a quality-critical procedure. Correct
implementation of the procedure involves
identification and documentation of the included
equipment, documentation of justifications for
Mechanical Integrity (1 of 6) [2/22/2002 2:10:47 PM]
exclusions, and proper handling of records
created during execution of this procedure.
Tracking of all information is important. Proper
performance of the procedure is critical to the
implementation of the Mechanical Integrity
Program if the 8-Step Program is to be utilized.
Effective quality control procedures and a quality
assurance program need to be in place to assure accurate application of this procedure.
APTECH's procedure can be applied to facilities which handle highly hazardous chemicals
to assist a plant in implementing a Mechanical Integrity Program. The plant equipment and
systems included in Mechanical Integrity should be a subset of the equipment and
systems included in the overall Process Safety Management (PSM) Program.
The tasks involved in our 8-Step Program follow this sequence:
Identify the highly hazardous chemicals present in the processes 1.
Identify PSM analysis by process area (plot plan) 2.
Identify covered safeguard equipment 3.
Review processes outside PSM 4.
Review processes within PSM covered process area for possible exclusions 5.
Identify non-highly hazardous chemical processes or equipment which failure might
lead to catastrophic event
Document results of the PSM analysis 7.
Prepare appropriate PSM Mechanical Integrity Program to mitigate identified failures 8.
The subtasks associated with each of these steps are defined in Table 1.
Risk Concepts
Until recent years, the traditional role of commercial and industrial risk management has
been to recognize known hazards to the success of plant operations and to support
decisions on the types and extent of insurance coverage to be obtained. Currently, some
of the important losses, accidents, or other types of failures of capital-intensive equipment
may be only partly insurable. Modern risk assessment and risk management methods
based on quantitative risk assessment (QRA) provide a solid basis for anticipating,
preventing, and /or mitigating both physical and economic risks. These methods are
increasingly viewed as a vital supplement to insurance coverage. The use of the
combination of risk assessment, active risk management, and insurance is usually more
cost-effective than insurance alone, especially for systems involving the obvious
challenges of aging equipment.
Defining Risk
Three simple questions are considered to establish the basis for defining risk as follows:
What could go wrong (scenario or event)? 1.
How often might it happen (probability)? 2.
What are the consequences (consequences)? 3.
Risk is characterized as the product of probability of a given failure event and the
consequences of that event. The measures of the consequences can be expressed in
terms of the physical damages, production delays or shortfalls, casualties, or the monetary
equivalents. A "high-risk" activity is typically one that either has a high probability of
occurring (with limited consequences) or a low probability of occurring with significant
consequences. The leakage of shaft seals or valve seals are examples of
high-probability/low-consequence events. For example, the rupture of a pipeline or
pressure vessel resulting in an explosion and fire would be defined as a
low-probability/high-consequence event.
High-probability/low-consequence events, if they become common over time, can have
high overall impact on economic risk, especially if such events increase the probability of
otherwise low-probability major events. For example, a plant that has a frequent need for
unscheduled maintenance is a greater risk of costly delays or losses than one that has an
effective preventative maintenance program and infrequent unscheduled maintenance
How Risk Assessment Results are Used
There are no generally-accepted guidelines on the acceptable level
of absolute values of risk (except for very specific examples
involving personnel risk). However, risk can be more reliably
Mechanical Integrity (2 of 6) [2/22/2002 2:10:47 PM]
determined on a relative basis. As long as the various risks are
evaluated on the same basis, the use of relative risks allows the
operations and maintenance team to optimize resources and focus
their efforts on those elements in the system that are most
important to achieving their goals. We use risk prioritization to
support "No Regrets Decision Making" in the allocation of
resources. "No Regrets Decision Making" means that the decisions
affecting the control of economic and safety-related risks make
effective use of all available information and resources in
day-to-day problem solving.
The "regrets" situation that can readily be avoided is the continued presence of the
deficiencies that are nearly always found to be present and chronic in operations that have
sustained major economic losses or accidents, such as:
The hazard that caused the loss was well recognized before the loss occurred. 1.
It was not assigned the appropriate level of importance for action and tracking
due to the absence of an accepted and systematic method for ranking the size
of the risks.
There was no assignment of sufficient level of responsibility and authority to
take and follow-up on needed risk management actions.
The information and techniques for controlling the risk of the hazard causing
the loss were available at the time, but they were not perceived properly or
used effectively.
Next, we discuss how we have used the above concepts as tools to prioritize and
effectively plan maintenance activities.
The flowchart in Figure 1 depicts the steps involved in applying our risk ranking
techniques. As can be seen, we start with a document review which defines the quality of
the documentation and the information needed to develop checklists and worksheets.
These worksheets include:
Equipment data checklists 1.
Process data checklists 2.
Location/HAZOPS information checklists 3.
Environmental information checklists 4.
Likelihood of failure worksheets 5.
Consequence of failure worksheets 6.
As shown in Figure 1, we work each branch of the flowchart separately using the available
evidence (this is why we call this an evidence-based risk assessment process) until at the
end, we calculate the risk rank for each component in the system.
Consequence Estimate
To develop the consequence estimate, we use a
series of attributes that include the operating or
design pressure and temperature (whichever is
higher), the quantity of contained fluid, MSDS
factors, and the properties of non-process hazards
(steam caustics, etc.). These factors are used to
develop a Preliminary Consequence Index (PCI)
which is then modified by considering HAZOPS
results, equipment location, personnel access, and
operating conditions. An example of how these
modifiers are used is shown in Figure 2. A flowchart
of this complete evaluation strategy is shown in
Figure 3.
Likelyhood Estimate
In this step, we first identify the potential damage mechanisms (the damage scenarios)
and then determine the potential modes of failure that might result from these
mechanisms. A damage rank is then assigned based on the probability of occurrence and
the failure mode if the hazard is undetected. The assigning of this likelihood estimate also
accounts for the following:
Quality of available documentation G
HAZOPS results G
Mechanical Integrity (3 of 6) [2/22/2002 2:10:47 PM]
Planned changes G
Transients and off normal operations G
Materials of construction and degradation credits G
Equipment history G
Process streams and contaminants composition G
A typical worksheet for the final likelihood estimation is shown in Figure 4. The flowchart
for this part of the procedure is shown in Figure 5.
Risk Ranking
Once both branches of the tree have been completed, then the product of likelihood and
consequence is determined to establish the risk ranking for the components. A risk matrix
(as shown in Figure 6) is used to assign work tasks and schedules. An example of how
this is done is shown in Figure 7. This is a general application guide and shows how
inspection intervals can be set based on this method of risk prioritization.
Condition and Remaining Useful Life Assessments
A risk assessment program can also be used to prioritize routine maintenance and
inspection spending. Many plants undergo routine nondestructive examinations to assess
condition and evaluate remaining useful life of selected components. A risk assessment
program can help to prioritize the components and the frequency of these condition and
remaining useful life assessments based on probabilities and consequences. The results
of these assessments can be used to improve component reliability. In many cases, the
risk ranking of individual components or systems may dictate that some equipment should
be inspected more frequently.
Application Of Risk-Based Inspection To Environment, Health, And Safety; And
Process Safety Management
The use of risk based Mechanical Integrity Programs is becoming increasingly popular.
The refining and petrochemical industries are leaders in using risk management tools in
their efforts to comply with PSM guidelines. The overall objective of PSM is the prevention
of highly hazardous chemical releases which could lead to catastrophic events. As a result
of implementation of these programs and compliance with PSM guidelines, companies are
finding out that they now have better knowledge of their plants and a better understanding
of their operations, and, therefore, better tools to manage their plants more safely and
reliably. This translates into improved environment, health, and safety management, since
to a large extent environmental risk factors overlap public safety risk factors.
The use of risk analysis in the environmental field is
nothing new. In fact, environmental professionals
have used risk analysis techniques for many years.
These risk analysis techniques, however, have
been used mostly to evaluate the risks posed by
existing contamination, be it in air, soil, and/or
groundwater, to humans as well as to sensitive
flora and fauna. In other instances, these
techniques have been utilized to model the risks
that potential contamination has on potential
receptors in and around areas containing hazardous chemicals and materials. Risk
analysis techniques are also being used more frequently to evaluate the potential
environmental impact of new plants, etc. The use of risk-based environmental
management is, however, less prevalent but it will have major applications in the future,
particularly as corporations look for ways of better managing their human and capital
resources. These applications can prove to be very useful, especially in circumstances
where a decision needs to be made about where to put resources first in a situation
involving multiple contaminated sites or multiple contaminated areas within a plant.
It is from here that environmental, health, and safety managers and practitioners should
take a closer look at what is being done in the area of risk-based Mechanical Integrity
Programs. Just like risk-based Mechanical Integrity Programs, equipment that poses the
largest risk is inspected and/or tested first; furthermore, to a greater degree, those sites
posing the greatest potential of harm to the environment should be looked at first. By
doing the above in a consistent and systematic manner, companies can continuously
reduce their environmental liability while complying with the law. In the past, companies
faced with multiple contaminated sites or multiple contaminated areas within a site, have
taken the route of first addressing those that cost less money to remediate. In most
instances, this has translated into companies first taking care of those sites or areas that
Mechanical Integrity (4 of 6) [2/22/2002 2:10:47 PM]
pose the least risk, which in turn has left them a bigger environmental liability. Sites or
areas within a site that pose the greatest environmental liability are not always the
costliest to remediate. This relationship of cost vs. risk can only be assessed by a
thorough look at the risk posed by the contaminated sites and an economic analysis of the
corresponding cost to remediate the sites.
Environmental, health, and safety
practitioners are not the only ones who can
learn from what is being done in risk-based
Mechanical Integrity Programs and
incorporate those risk analysis techniques
to environmental management.
Environmental managers and supervisors
can also reap the benefits of these
risk-based Mechanical Integrity Programs
which are designed to operate equipment
more reliably. In most instances, increased equipment operating reliability translates into
equipment performing as designed and operating without adverse consequences to the
environment (such as a rupture of a pipeline that inherently leads to a spill of a potentially
hazardous chemical). This means that environmental managers or supervisors will now
have fewer environmental incidents to address and report, and more time to spend on
environmental planning.
It is this synergy between risk-based Mechanical Integrity Programs and environmental
management that environmental personnel, corporate management, and plant managers
should take advantage of as they move forward in better allocating capital and human
resources. This synergism is not a one-way street, but rather a two-way street since
risk-based Mechanical Integrity Programs can benefit from the incorporation of simple
environmental models into the final risk ranking of equipment. The degree to which this
environmental model affects that final equipment risk ranking can, of course, be modified
by its developer.
Concluding Remarks
A significant economic advantage can be
obtained by applying risk-based prioritization
strategies to establish the most effective
methods for scheduling and performing
maintenance activities. A risk assessment
program can be developed to assist plant
management in meeting corporate objectives of
high reliability and low-cost operations. In this
age of increasing global competition among
producers, programs aimed at lowering
production costs without adverse environmental,
safety, and health impacts are critical. The trend
toward reduction of staff and maintenance
spending while operating older equipment will
force plant operators to become smarter and more effective. A risk assessment program
will help plant management in meeting these objectives.
The broader application of these methods will be driven by the need to do more
maintenance as equipment ages with less resources (in particular, with fewer people).
This will also establish the need for smart systems that integrate information to enable
maintenance decisions to be made automatically, such as an on-line condition analyzer.
These systems have been developed and will find increasing use in the future.
Figure 1. Risk Ranking Procedure
Figure 2. Consequence of Failure Ranking
Figure 3. Consequence Evaluation Procedure
Figure 4. Worksheet for the Likelihood of Failure Estimates
Figure 5. Likelihood of Equipment Failure
Figure 6. Risk Ranking Matrix
Figure 7. Inspection Schedules Based on Risk Ranking
For additional information on Risk-Based Mechanical Integrity or any other APTECH
services, please contact Robert Heller in APTECH's Houston, Texas office (phone:
281-558-3200, or toll-free in the U.S. 800-568-3201) or call the APTECH office nearest
Mechanical Integrity (5 of 6) [2/22/2002 2:10:47 PM]
Aptech Engineering Services, Inc.
1253 Reamwood Ave., Sunnyvale, California 800-477-2228
© 2001, APTECH Engineering Services, Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part in any form without the express written permission of an officer of
the company is strictly prohibited.
Mechanical Integrity (6 of 6) [2/22/2002 2:10:47 PM]

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful