One of the reasons we continue to have too many fixed equipment mechanical integrity (FEMI) events in the refining and process industries is the lack of understanding and appreciation by site management for the hazards posed by the 101 FEMI issues1. Too often the formalized Process Hazards Analysis (PHA) is almost completely separate from FEMI hazards analysis; and the two programs are often handled by two different functions at the site, each doing their own analysis. In a previous series of articles 2-11 written for Inspectioneering Journal, I discussed the top ten management systems needed to control risks associated with FEMI. This article proposes to integrate some aspects of those FEMI risk management systems more closely into PHAs, such that site management would have a better overall understanding and appreciation of the prioritization of the total risks to which the site is exposed. And when management has that understanding and appreciation for those risks, they are much more likely to provide the necessary resources to manage those risks effectively.
Hazards Identification and Risk Assessment
Typically PHAs are updated every 5 years or more frequent depending upon the potential that the hazards in any particular process unit may be changing. The PHA process is often the responsibility of Process Engineering or Process Safety work groups, and as such, the thinking and input may be dominated by the chemistry or process safety aspects of risk. Parallel to the PHA work process is the work process being conducted by asset integrity groups to assess risks of FEMI hazards. And unfortunately, at some sites, there is no formalized risk assessment for FEMI risks. If and when FEMI hazard identification and risk assessments are being conducted, it is usually within the Asset Integrity Group, the Reliability Group, the Inspection Group or whatever else these functions may be titled at your site. As such, the thinking and input may be dominated by the hardware and mechanical integrity aspects of risk and not integrated with the important process and operational aspects of risk. So if you are fortunate, both groups are doing a good job at assessing associated hazards and risks from their own particular perspective, but sometimes separately without the benefit of full integration of the two work processes. If you are not so fortunate, then your site may be assessing some process safety risks with PHAs, but not effectively assessing the risks associated with FEMI issues.