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Inherent Safety

Flex Process process safety experts can assist you by facilitating inherent safety reviews to identify opportunities for you to apply inherent safety to a new or existing design or to demonstrate that the principles of inherent safety have been considered to demonstrate ALARP during safety case preparation or renewal.

The principles of inherent safety can be applied throughout the lifecycle of a plant but are especially effective in the early stages of process development such as during the R&D and conceptual design stage when the project team are not too invested in any one process route, or slightly later when a particular process route has been chosen but little information is available on the design details or operating conditions. At this stage inherent safety and environmental improvements can be incorporated into the design at negligible cost or even with major savings, as the use of hazardous chemicals is reduced or eliminated, and equipment is smaller, made from cheaper materials or is not required. Many of the findings resulting from these reviews require further engineering development such as using different process routes, process intensification, inventory reduction and modifying the proposed operating conditions. Flex Process is ideally suited to helping you in this area, as our advanced process modelling capabilities can be used to develop and confirm the design, especially novel designs, before any significant investment is made in detailed engineering or hardware. This can potentially save significant costs and often can prevent re designs and rework.

Inherent safety principles can also be applied at later stages of a project, but this is generally less effective as it is difficult to make major process changes such as eliminating hazardous chemicals and equipment has already been chosen or installed. However, there are often still opportunities for inherent safety and Flex Process can assist you with identifying these. For example, it is often possible to reduce inventories and reduce the severity of the operating conditions.  Following the inherent safety review, Flex Process can assist you with modelling your process to confirm that the identified opportunities are feasible and ensure that the modified design is safe and will operate well within clearly defined safe operating limits and that alarms and trips are appropriately set.

The inherent safety review considers the possible hazards and applies the principles of inherent safety, the hierarchy of controls and the preference for different types of controls:

Principles of Inherent Safety:

  • Minimise/Intensify: reduce the amount of hazardous material present.
  • Substitute: Replace the material with a less hazardous material.
  • Moderate/Attenuate: Reduce the strength of an effect.
  • Simplify: Eliminate potential hazards by design so that additional equipment is not needed to manage them.
  • Error Tolerance: Design/ Integrity limits of equipment can be set to be capable of withstanding possible faults/deviations.
  • Limit Effects: By design, location, or transportation; so, the worst possible condition is less severe.

Hierarchy of controls:

  • Prevention.
  • Control.
  • Mitigation.
  • Emergency Response.

Preference for different types of controls:

  • Inherent.
  • Passive.
  • Active.
  • Procedural.

Flex Process also run training courses that can teach you about these inherent safety principles and their application, including practice inherent safety workshops.

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