API making progress on US refinery safety - chem safety board

23 July 2012 16:17  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The US Chemical Safety Board on Monday said the American Petroleum Institute has made acceptable progress in drawing up safety recommendations in the wake of the deadly 2005 BP refinery explosion in Texas.

The safety board said it voted to classify the API’s response to the board's recommendation “to develop an effective system of indicators to evaluate performance and implement these measures to continually improve the management and control of process safety risks.”

The CSB recommendation was issued jointly to the API and the United Steelworkers Union (USW); both groups initially accepted the recommendation but the USW later withdrew from the standards development process, citing imbalances in the committee composition.

CSB chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso said: “We are pleased that API is actively addressing the issue of indicators, but believe that input from all stakeholders is necessary to develop additional more robust leading indicators to compare performance across industry.”

Moure-Eraso said that one of the findings of the CSB investigation into the 2005 accident was that BP and the oil refining and chemical sectors did not have an effective system of indicators to evaluate their safety performance sufficient to determine the potential for a major catastrophe.

“BP and industry sectors were instead typically using personal safety indicators such as slips, trips and falls to measure safety performance,” Moure-Eraso said.

“Leading indicators provide data on the health of these critical safety systems before a gas release or spill occurs,” he said. “Often the difference between a lagging event and a catastrophic one is merely the lack of an ignition source. Industry needs effective leading indicators capable of reducing the risks of catastrophic failures such as the 2005 accident at BP Texas City.”

The 2005 explosion at Texas City killed 15 workers and injured 180 others.

The CSB made the announcement during a two-day public hearing in Houston that centred on offshore and onshore safety issues.

By: Brian Ford
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