Question: If you were challenged to describe the effectiveness of your alarm system performance or governance during a regulatory or corporate audit, could you do so?
Understanding how well you manage your alarms and alarm systems; is fundamental to being able to demonstrate not only your compliance to standards and regulatory obligations, but also that you recognize what improvements need to be made.
Doing nothing to improve your alarm system(s) is not an option; in particular, it is a requirement under the COMAH 2015 regulations. Regulators may consider enforcement if you are not managing or improving your alarm system(s) and cannot demonstrate a commitment to doing so.
Improving your alarms
Before embarking on any alarm improvement project, it is essential to understand exactly what it is you need to achieve. A comprehensive benchmark assessment is an initial audit of every aspect of alarm management at your site and is one of the primary entry points in the alarm management lifecycle for existing alarm systems as highlighted in Figure 1.
A benchmark assessment will not only measure and report on the numerical performance of your alarm system(s), but will also focus on the design and governance of alarms on site by reviewing alarm related processes and procedures as well as identifying the operational effectiveness of your alarm system(s).
A comprehensive benchmark assessment will generate a gap analysis with targeted recommendations by comparing the findings at site with the currently prevailing international alarm management standards and recognized good practice guidelines.
Benefits of a benchmark assessment
By carrying out a benchmark assessment, you will be able to demonstrate to the regulators that you have a commitment to improvement; you understand the areas which need to be addressed and have a structured plan for the way forward.
A benchmark assessment will identify:
- Any legislative, regulatory or corporate compliance gaps and generate focussed, prioritised improvement plans
- Operational improvements
- Current alarm system performance
- Potential ‘quick wins’ to maximise the impact of your alarm improvement project from the very beginning
In addition, by following through with the recommendations generated in your benchmark assessment report, long term benefits can be delivered such as:
- Increased safety and environmental performance
- Reduced losses through better control and fewer plant trips
- Improved alarm system effectiveness
- Reduced operator stress
- Improved productivity and quality control
How we can help you
Our consultant will conduct an on-site assessment where all aspects concerning the management of alarms will be considered. The assessment which includes structured interviews and desktop documentation reviews, will take place over 2-3 days at the end of which, our consultant will deliver a brief presentation outlining their findings.
Following completion of the on-site assessment, a comprehensive report will be prepared which will detail the assessor’s findings and highlight areas for improvement. The report will include prioritized key recommendations on how to address the issues identified and progress towards compliance with international standards and your regulatory commitments.
The report will include but not be limited to the following areas:
- The potential impact of alarms on regulatory requirements
- Compliance with IEC 62682 / ISA 18.2 standards and adherence to the EEMUA 191 guidelines
- Roles and responsibilities for the management of alarms
- Alarm philosophy, master alarm database and design documentation
- Numerical performance of the alarm system(s)
- Alarm presentation and reporting facilities
- Management of change
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