Why invest in Functional Safety

A common perception in many industrial plants is that Safety is more an expense than an investment. If we have not had a serious accident in the Plant in the last 10 or 20 years, we may have difficulty finding arguments to invest in Functional Safety.

Implementing in the Plant a Standard such as IEC 61511 requires that the company’s Management be convinced of its benefits and that it allocate a budget for the initial investment (CAPEX), as well as for the rest of the life cycle (OPEX), both are essential.

What are the main arguments to invest in Functional Safety?

1-The safety of people. This is the main argument. It is necessary to minimize the risks that affect employees, subcontractors and the general population, especially those living near the Plant.

2-The protection of the equipment, especially the most critical equipment (for its cost or its function in the process).

3-The protection of the environment. This today is very important.

These first three arguments are those that are evaluated in the Process Hazard Analysis (PHA) phase in order to determine what SIS protection layers we need and what is the SIL level assigned to each of the Safety Instrumented Functions.

4-Compliance with local legislation is mandatory. When an accident occurs, regulators and insurance companies will analyze in depth the actual degree of compliance, which could have very serious legal consequences for the company and managers.

5-The cost of the Insurance Policy can be much lower if the SIS is correctly implemented.

6-The reputation of the company in a digital world like the current one is a very strong argument. Today, any accident, even a small one, has an almost immediate impact on social media and networks. The brand image is a great asset for many companies and maintaining it has a cost.

7-The loss of production resulting from an accident can be very large, and can even have huge implications such as the closure of the Plant.

Trevor Kletz, a leading figure of process safety, was fond of repeating: “There’s an old saying that if you think safety is expensive, try an accident. Accidents cost a lot of money. And, not only in damage to plant and in claims for injury, but also in the loss of the company’s reputation.”

Based on a serious cost-benefit analysis, investing in Functional Safety is undoubtedly very profitable. The implications of all kinds of an accident can be enormous. Unfortunately there are many examples of major industrial accidents.

Do you have an unsafe plant and want to invest in Safety? Go ahead, doing it right is not an easy or quick task. Set priorities and take solid steps slowly in the right direction.

We recommend this video of the investigation carried out and the conclusions obtained about the accident of the BP Refinery in 2005: Anatomy of a Disaster

Anatomy of a Disaster – BP Refinery 2005