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The Industry 4.0 manufacturing operations model will bring challenges for process safety. These challenges were in focus at PM Group's breakfast briefing in Cork.

Over 60 industry and academic professionals attended the event. Keynote speaker, Pat Conneely of the Health & Safety Authority (HSA) provided the regulators view of major accident hazards on both COMAH and Non-COMAH sites. PM Group process safety specialists discussed digital technology, human factors in Industry 4.0 and toxic/asphyxiant gases.

“Industry 4.0 will drive changes in the process and life science industries in the coming years. The key message from the speakers was that process safety challenges will always be present, irrespective of evolving technologies in Industry 4.0. Human involvement will also continue to be a requirement,” said Brian Tiernan, event organiser and EHS Department Manager with PM Group - Cork.

Key take-aways from the presenters:

Pat Conneely, HSA - Major accident hazards on both COMAH and non-COMAH sites

  • Do sites have adequate layers of protection in place to protect against any new risks presented by Industry 4.0 designs?
  • Accidents can still happen even after Quantitative Risk Assessment/HAZOP assessment.
  • The HSA seek assurance that sites know what can go wrong, what systems are in place to prevent it going wrong and what assurance can operators give that the systems are working?
  • In 2020, key topics of focus of HSA inspections may include pressure vessels, PED and  ATEX, out of hours procedures and shelter in place.

Pat Swords, PM Group - Can digital technology improve process safety?

  • Improved automation offers significant safety advances. However, before we connect everything together, we should ‘look before we leap’ and possibly even take a step backwards before going forward.
  • There is a new and quite comprehensive risk management framework available for cyber security.  Before embarking on the process of connecting critical systems though, you should really consider whether you need all that connectivity in the first place?

Brenda Madden, PM Group - The role of Human Factors in Industry 4.0 process safety management

  • Analysis of dangerous occurrences and loss of containment incidents at COMAH establishments reveals a wide range of Human Factor related underlying causes. These include poor operational and maintenance procedures, inadequate risk assessment and poor plant and process design amongst other factors.
  • Process safety experience with Human Factors, particularly with COMAH establishments, can carry that learning forward to industry 4.0.
  • Process safety professionals and individuals involved in process hazard analysis would benefit greatly from training in the human and behavioural sciences.

Mike Law, PM Group - Toxic / asphyxiant gases

  • Do not assume that ventilation is equally effective in every part of a room.  There may be ‘dead-spots’ where air movement is poorer and the risk of an asphyxiant zone is higher.
  • Do not rely on oxygen depletion sensors for detecting toxic gas releases. Toxic gases are dangerous at levels far lower than the sensors alert level.
  • If a room is dependent on a particular ventilation rate for adequate dilution of a gas leak, ensure that the rationale is captured and documented securely so that the rate cannot inadvertently be reduced in future.

Pictured above: L-R back row: Pat Swords, Mike Law, Brendan Madden, (Front) Pat Conneely, Brian Tiernan.

For more information about this please contact Brian Tiernan and our team of Process Safety specialists.

EHS Team
EHS Team

EHS Team