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API RP 585 - Pressure Equipment Integrity Incident Investigation

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API RP 585, Pressure Equipment Integrity Incident Investigation, is a recommended practice developed and published by the American Petroleum Institute (API) that provides owner-operators with guidelines for developing, implementing, sustaining, and enhancing an investigation program for mechanical integrity (MI) incidents. This RP was originally published in 2014, and the most recent 2nd Edition was released in April of 2021.

API RP 585 describes characteristics of an effective investigation and how organizations can learn from pressure equipment integrity incidents. 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. API RP 585 seeks 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, major catastrophic MI failures of pressure equipment can be prevented.

API RP 585 presents work processes and guidelines for three levels of incident investigation, varying from the simplest, quickest method conducted usually by one person for minor incidents, 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 over a period of several months.

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