Do we really need a safety case? A Singapore Perspective

Do we really need a safety case? A Singapore Perspective

The answer is obvious when you recognise that putting safety first for the world’s manufacturing facilities is paramount in reducing fatalities, injuries and major environmental damage.

I want to share my perspective on this –based on my experience and observations.

First of all, what is a safety case? It is detailed documentation that systematically examines and analyses and records the hazards and risks associated with a major hazard installation. It comprises a report that demonstrates companies are capable of running a high hazard facility safely.

If you are a senior manager, you may well think it is an expensive piece of documentation – and you would be right; it is costly to write a good safety case.  It is a very detailed document but it is MUCH MUCH more if done properly

When writing your safety case, you will need to look at your operations in a different way.  You will need to carry out detailed assessments your operations.  In doing so there undoubtedly will be areas of concern, either in the design or in the way that you operate.

The major benefits of a safety case are:

  • It develops thorough understanding of the hazards, risk, management systems, controls and mitigation measures to reduce the risk of accidents to as low as is reasonable practicable.
  • It gives assurances of good safety management and that appropriate controls are in place.
  • It includes an overall action plan that regulators will use to assess improvements identified during the development of the safety case.
  • Assessments are made to decide if it is reasonable practicable to improve their systems.
  • It develops a safer operational facility for both humans and the environment.
  • It delivers demonstrable assurances of control to the regulatory bodies, insurers and company boards.

A safety case split into the following sections.

Descriptive aspects: What, how much and where?

You will need to identify your hazards – sounds easy but you need to think about raw materials, in- process materials reactions and intermediates, and finished products.  All hazardous materials need to bae assessed, not just those that are above the thresholds. Next you need to understand what you can affect and what can affect you, your neighbours and another facilities that you can impact and those that can impact on you. This will mean sharing hazard information, maybe not something you are used to sharing

Predictive Aspects – How bad could it be?

You will identify your worst case scenarios and then you will understand their consequences.  You will need to complete risk assessments and develop your risk matrix. This will identify your safety critical events.

Your risks will be assessed to ascertain if they are reduced to as low as is reasonably practicable. This will involve identifying further risk reduction measures that you can take and you will need to demonstrate that the risks are reduced to as low as is reasonably practicable.


Management Systems Aspects– how are the risks managed and controlled?

You will already have a safety management system but now you need to look at it from a different angle, you will need to modify it to ensure it manages major hazards.

Sounds easy doesn’t it; BUT it will take a lot of time and a lot of effort to demonstrate your management systems are robust. You will need assess your manning –  levels, competency and experience. You will even need to review your purchasing systems to ensure that price considerations do not undermine performance consideration.

Technical Aspects – What you have in place.

This is probably the most challenging section, especially for older facilities as you need define your basis of safety. This can be a challenge if you do not know what standards were used to design the facility originally

You will apply a hierarchical approach to the measures that are in place and this will be applied across all the disciplines including human factors.

This section defines the required controls to operate the facility safely and demonstrates that the control measure are adequate.

Emergency Response –And if it goes wrong – what will you do?

By assessing what could go wrong you can develop workable plans for your response in the event of a major accident scenario.

Your plans will help your staff and the SCDF (Singapore Civil Defense Force) in bringing a major accident under control.

Now you will have a living document that can help you operate your facility safely.  You can use it for planning shutdowns and turnarounds, you can use it to help develop your KPI’s and improvements. You can demonstrate you are capable to run a high hazard facility safely.

For more information, please contact us at Ispahan and we will get back to you.