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How to resolve problems in safety lifecycle management

Accidents continue to occur in many manufacturing facilities, even those where safety systems and other safety protection has been installed. Studies confirm that these failures are due largely to inadequate safety management.

IEC 61511 specifies 12 steps in the safety lifecycle. These are segmented into four phases: analysis, realisation, maintenance, ongoing functions.

Safety Lifecycle I: Analysis Phase

The analysis phase includes the initial planning, identification, and specification of safety functions required for the safe operation of a manufacturing process, including documentation of the safety requirements.

Specific activities include:

Perform Hazard and Risk Analysis: Determine hazards and hazardous events, the sequence of events leading to hazardous condition, the associated process risks, the requirements of risk reduction, and the safety functions required.

Allocate Safety Functions to Protection Layers: Check the available layers of protection. Allocate safety functions to protection layers and safety systems.

Specify Requirements for Safety System: If tolerable risk is still out of limit, then specify the requirements for each safety system and their safety integrity levels.

Safety Lifecycle II: Realisation Phase

The realisation phase includes not only design, installation, and testing of safety systems, but also the design, development, and installation of other effective risk reduction methods, such as mechanical trips and barriers.

Activities include:

Design and Engineer Safety System: Design system to meet the safety requirements.

Design and Develop Other Means of Risk Reduction: Means of protection other than programmable safety systems include mechanical systems, process control systems, and manual systems.

Install Commission and Validate the Safety Protections: Install and validate that the safety system meets the all safety requirements to the required safety integrity levels.

Safety Lifecycle III: Maintenance Phase

The maintenance phase begins at the start-up of a process and continues until the safety system is decommissioned or redeployed.

Specific activities include:

Operate and Maintain: Ensure that safety system functions are maintained during operation and maintenance.

Modify and Update: Make corrections, enhancements, and adaptations to the safety system to ensure that the safety requirements are maintained.

Decommissioning: Conduct review and obtain required authorisation before decommissioning a safety system. Ensure that the required safety functions remain operational during decommissioning.

Safety Lifecycle IV: Ongoing Functions

Examples include managing functional safety, planning and structuring the safety lifecycle, and performing periodic safety system verification and safety audits over the whole lifecycle.

Specific activities include:

Manage Functional Safety, Safety Assessment, and Safety Audit: Identify the management activities required to ensure the functional safety objectives are met.

Plan and Structure Safety Lifecycle: Define safety lifecycle in terms of inputs, outputs, and verification activities.

Verify Safety System: Demonstrate by review, analysis, and/or testing that the required outputs satisfy the defined requirements for each phase of the safety lifecycle.

Activities for Phases I to III are normally carried out consecutively, while Phase IV runs concurrently with the other phases. Like all models, the safety lifecycle is an approximation and there are significant iterations between phases.

The standards define requirements for safety management, rather than just system development. Not all safety lifecycle phases will be relevant to every application. Management must define which requirements are applicable in each case.

The standards do not prescribe exactly what should be done in any particular case, but guide management towards decisions and offers advice. Management continues to be responsible for taking and justifying appropriate actions.

Users should realise that safety systems by themselves do not achieve safety. People working within a strong safety culture achieve greater safety. It is management’s responsibility to foster and maintain such a culture.

[Dave Woll is Vice President, ARC Advisory Group.]

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