Functional Safety Management Starts With Competency

by | Jan 29, 2008 | Safety, Services, Consulting & Training

Jim Cahill

Chief Blogger, Editor

Emerson’s Chuck Miller is one passionately guy when it comes to process safety and the international safety standards, IEC 61508 and IEC 61511. He is on a mission to put the focus of functional safety management where he believes it belongs–on the competency of safety professionals involved in the safety lifecycle.

Chuck noted a panel discussion he sat in on at last fall’s ISA Expo in Houston. The panel discussed various approaches to process manufacturing risk mitigation. These included combining control and safety in the same control system platform, the standalone safety instrumented system (SIS) approach, and the separate-yet-integrated safety system approach.

An end user on the panel discussed the common platform approach. He emphasized that his company’s internal policies and procedures for risk assessment, implementation, operations and maintenance were well understood and consistently applied. These factors drove the decision to implement systems in this manner.

A safety instrumented system supplier discussed the standalone SIS approach and one of Chuck’s colleagues discussed the separate yet integrated approach that is represented by safety instrumented systems like DeltaV SIS. Using several advanced technology examples including advancements in diagnostic coverage; common programming environments and global databases the presenter illustrated how such technologies, when appropriately applied, provided measurable savings throughout the safety lifecycle without compromising the SIS’s ability to conform to international safety standards, such as IEC 61511.

Chuck’s revelation was that the real issue is not so much the philosophy, the approach, the architecture, or even the platform selected. What really drives a successful SIS implementation is competency. Each of the presenters was passionate about their approach being the best solution because their individual competency was based on that particular philosophy and approach.

His bottom line–functional safety management must be implemented around the requirements of a technology and supported by competent safety professionals that always ensure that the SIS solution is defined, designed, installed, operated and maintained in a way that meets its defined functional safety requirements throughout its lifecycle.

As this group of panelists demonstrated in their exchanges with the audience–there are several philosophies, architectures and platforms to mitigate process manufacturers’ safety risks. It takes competent safety professionals to work with these throughout the safety lifecycle.

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The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the authors. Content published here is not read or approved by Emerson before it is posted and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Emerson.