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Overview of API RP 585 - Pressure Equipment Integrity Incident Investigation

API RP 585, Pressure Equipment Integrity Incident Investigation, provides owner/users with guidelines and recommended practices for developing, implementing, sustaining and enhancing an investigation program for mechanical integrity (MI) incidents. This RP describes characteristics of an effective investigation and how organizations can learn from pressure equipment integrity incident investigations. It is intended to supplement and provide additional guidance for the OSHA Process Safety Management (PSM) Standard 29 CFR 1910.119 (m) incident investigation requirements, with a specific focus on incidents caused by MI failures of pressure equipment (vessels, columns, heat exchangers, piping, storage tanks, etc.).

Catastrophic MI failures are rarely the result of one isolated issue; there are almost always less severe precursors to a major failure (i.e. leaks, unexpected, or accelerated degradation). These precursors are frequently called near-misses when they are discovered. One of the intents of this document is to highlight the value in recognizing these precursor occurrences and promote investigating them to determine the immediate, contributing and root causes. If these precursor occurrences are uncovered, investigated and the contributing and root causes are resolved, then I believe most major catastrophic MI failures of pressure equipment could be prevented. Work processes and guidelines are presented for three levels of incident investigation varying from the simplest, quickest method conducted usually by one person for minor incidents which may take only a couple days, up to a full root cause investigation for major incidents involving a team of subject matter experts, who look into the deepest causes of incident, and which may take several months to complete.

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