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Integrity Management: How confident are you about safety solutions?

Integrity Management: How confident are you about safety solutions?

Integrity Management is designed to achieve greater safety by allowing individual operators flexibility in tailoring their programmes to the characteristics of the asset. G Venkatesh writes on the emerging discipline.

In late June 2011, near Kammanahalli, Bangalore, a 22-year old travelling on his two-wheeler met with an accident while riding along a flyover where Metro rail work was in progress when one of the steel rods slipped from the crane and smashed his helmet. The youth is in a coma now in a city hospital. In this case, the Personal Protective Equipments were available in the site; there might have been a standard operating pro­cedure too. But there were no signages, no security guard at the site to warn mot­orists of the impending danger.

Implementation of safety requires a combination of scientific approach and practical solutions leading to red­u­­c­tion in risks, increased safety consciousness and impro­vement in the environmental performance. Integrity Management (IM) is one of the fundamental techniques that combine knowledge with experience. The question is: what is the point of having safety procedures and pro­cesses if no one wants to follow them? It is precisely because of such challenges that an emerging discipline like IM needs encouragement from industry.

IM ensures the technical integrity of the asset, in order to operate within acceptable safety margins and ensures optimised economy throughout the operational life. This comprises:

  • Collection and utilisation of available information to assess the condition of the asset;
  • Determination of corrective or preventive actions to ensure safe operation and deployment of financial resources where the risk or consequence of a failure is the highest.

Questions raised in IM

  • What is the confidence level about people following safety instructions?
  • Are procedures being followed religiously?
  • Are processes fit for purpose and serve the need for which they were set up?
  • How robust is the design of an installation, the wear and tear of which can have serious repercuss­ions on the safety of individuals or protection of an asset?

Integrity Management Plan (IMP)

IM attempts to assess and mitigate risks to reduce the likelihood and consequence of incidents. The plans have to be reviewed regularly so that there is:

  • Optimisation of capital and revenue expenditures.
  • Adoption of best-in-class practices.

Ideally, an effective IMP should contain:

  • An outline of the process
  • A list of threats that the asset is susceptible to
  • Risk analysis
  • Details of regulatory requirements to be met
  • Accountability and communications chart that con­tains the names of personnel accountable along with their contacts and also details of personnel who need to be contacted during an emergency
  • Critical operating parameters for process safety
  • Risk mitigation techniques
  • Historic review of asset
  • Failure analysis review (where applicable)
  • Review of design (where required)
  • Management of change
  • Remediation and repairs

Steps in IM

IM programme will need effective allocation of res­ources for successful implementation:

1. Identify and analyse the actual and potential pre­cursor events
2. Comprehensive means for examining and comparing the spectrum of risks and risk reduction activities
3. Structured method by which risk reduction activities can be selected and implemented
4. Engagement of qualified and trained personnel for risk management.

The main areas of focus are:

a. Risk-based inspection (RIBI)
b. Reliability-centred maintenance (RCM)
c. Corrosion management (COM)

RIBI is used to optimise the inspection plan for an asset. Each asset unit is given an individual risk rating. Higher risk levels call for the highest inspection freq­ue­ncies whereas lower risk levels will have long intervals between each inspection.

RCM focuses on maintaining only critical and cost demanding equipment while less critical equipment is subject to corrective maintenance.

COM Programme is an effective way to control the integrity threats caused by material degradation like cor­rosion, erosion, s and fatigue. This also leads to cost savings and the thrust is on minimising leaks (esp­ecially hydrocarbon leaks) in high risk areas. The pro­g­ramme depends on defining clear responsibilities, acco­untabilities and ownership of corrosion management throughout the organisation.

Focused inspection, predictive maintenance and ease of managing compliance characterise IM. Thus, IM can be called as a lifecycle management system that ke­eps your asset fit for purpose.

IM and COW

Control of Work (COW) and IM complement each other. COW is concerned with the safe execution of wor­kplace responsibilities. IM is concerned with total life cycle integrity of a firm's operations right from design to decommissioning.

Elements of an IM standard

Broadly, the various elements of an IM standard are:

1. Accountability: Every operation will have a desi­g­nated engineering authority (EA) who needs to und­erstand what it takes to complete the job safely. Operating practices and engineering technical pra­ctices have to be aligned with each other.
2. Competence: Do people ask the right questions? Do they have enough time to understand? Effective res­olution of problem has a direct bearing on the com­petence. Competency gaps must be addressed by training.
3. Hazard Evaluation & Risk Management: This dep­ends on risk analysis by competent teams with a risk mitigation plan. Risk analysis has to cover the full life cycle from design, procurement, construc­tion, commissioning, operation to decommiss­ion­ing. Risk evaluation and mitigation are dynamic processes.
4. Facilities & Process Integrity: Processes and facili­ties have to be fit for purpose. Even when design is new or is being modified, application of IM sta­n­dards is a must. For instance, we need to evaluate the best technology to reduce long term enviro­n­mental liabilities. All equipment shall be operated within safe design limits.

Site Technical practices comprise guidance, codes, standards, specifications and these have to be ali­g­ned with engineering technical practices.

5. Protective systems can be in place, but these can be breached. Inspection, testing and maintenance of protective systems have to be aligned with site tech­nical practices and standard operating procedures. Any change in protective systems has to go through a documented Management of Change process.
6. Management of Change (MoC): Any change has to be made only after a process to examine its impact and manage any associated risks. Changes can be temporary or permanent. Good MoC ensures that the solution you find is the right one and the solution does not lead to other problems at other places. Documentation of the rationale behind the change is necessary.
7. Emergency Response Plan: This is required to resp­ond quickly and mitigate the effects. Investigation will reduce likelihood of future accidents.
8. Performance Management & Learning: Total num­ber of plant inspections, total number of IM related incidents – correlating them can be a good tool to evaluate performance.

Here is a look at a template showing the input and output measures:

Lessons learnt must be documented and an action plan has to be drawn out to fill in the gaps.

Complacency is dangerous

Incidents that lead to fatalities and serious harm to people can cripple the reputation of any organisation. The riskier the operation, the greater is the potential for disaster. Workers, supervisors, site engineers and project managers can increasingly rely on how things were done before rather than rely on sound engineering principles. People can forget to be afraid. When systems and con­trols fail, deterioration is quite rapid.

The important aspect of IM is that these standards are flexible and allow for localisation. But compliance to these standards has to be made mandatory.

In a world of different priorities, safety has to be accorded the topmost priority.

The author is an academic and a Project Management expert.

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