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Exploring an Incident from an Industry Peer

Written by Risk Alive

August 27, 2020

One of your industry peers has just suffered a major incident at one of their sites; should you be worried? Not necessarily, but you should be vigilant. Is the event that happened in their facility something that could happen to you? If you’re in the same business the answer is likely yes, but the crux is how the risks are managed at your sites versus theirs. You may be exposed but the silver lining to a very sad and unfortunate event is that you have the opportunity to learn from the unsafe days of others, before it happens on your site.

Events like this provide you a free Return On Experience (REX): you’ve not lost anything but you can learn a great deal. The first step in managing a risk is knowing it exists. With the incident that you have just observed it provides insight to what can go wrong at your site which may not have been known before. The next step is determining if your team has already thought of and mitigated that risk or not. One of the best places to start is in the Process Hazards Analysis (PHA) studies your company has conducted to see if the scenario is captured and how it was assessed.

Look at the existing safeguards that have been highlighted in your PHA, are they still valid? Are they still effective? A safeguard that is not effective or well maintained, tested and inspected is the same as not having a safeguard at all. 

This can also be a great opportunity to demonstrate leadership and commitment to safety. Assuming you were already aware of the risk, communicating with your team about a scenario that happened elsewhere in your industry is extremely important. Commending your team on a good job identifying that risk in your organization and encouraging their continued vigilance in the future can help increase awareness and demonstrate a strong safety culture.

Here are 3 ways you can put learning from others into practice:

  1. If your team has not previously thought of that scenario occurring at your site, make it a safety moment and point of discussion at toolbox talks.
  2. Convene a PHA team to assess how the risks would translate at your site and share that learning with other similar sites in your company in a way that is easy to understand.
  3. Use the information gained in emergency drills and update any affected operating procedures.

So How Can Your Risk Data Help You Prevent the Incidents of Others?

Ask yourself, and your organization, these questions: 

  1. Is this a risk your team is already aware of and has mitigated?
  2. Did you use a robust safeguarding strategy?
  3. What is the status of those safeguards today? Are they working?
  4. Are there any outstanding corrective actions related to that risk?
  5. Does everyone in your company know about the risk and the incident that just played out?

Risk Management is Serious Business 

Learning from others’ incidents sounds like a simple concept, yet many companies fail to learn from their own incidents so ensuring you capture lessons from others can require a concentrated effort. For instance, an incident at the Martinez, CA, refinery in February, 2014, involved a sulfuric acid spill that burned two workers. The CSB report discovered that the same scenario had occurred in 1999 and been the subject of a major investigation. 

Link: https://www.csb.gov/tesoro-martinez-sulfuric-acid-spill/

This is a clear reminder that key takeaways from such incidents and absorbing those learnings throughout your organization are an important step to making sure that past mistakes are not repeated in the future.

The Intelligence You Need to Make the Right Choice

Using analytics and industry data to ensure critical threats are addressed gives you and all stakeholders the peace of mind to know without a doubt that all critical threats are being managed.

Risk Alive® holds the world’s largest collection of PHA and risk data and has the advanced tools and technology to analyze it effectively and efficiently. Never before has this been possible but now you can access huge collections of data for facilities of all types from refineries to gas plants, fertilizer production to French fry factories to identify common threats, mitigations and the best strategies to protect your new investment.

Start leveraging your risk data to learn from industry incidents with Risk Alive®.

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