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Alarm Philosophy in Effective Alarm Management


Do you have an Alarm Philosophy document which defines the management of alarms at your site?

If not, why not? And if you do already have an Alarm Philosophy document; is it current and does it comply with the requirements mandated in the prevailing alarm management standards?

If you are serious about managing alarms, or have been challenged by the regulators to demonstrate your commitment to improving alarms on your site, then it is essential to create, maintain and bring into general use, an Alarm Philosophy document.

What is an Alarm Philosophy?

An Alarm Philosophy is a document that defines the governance of alarms at your site, and is the starting point for the design and implementation of new alarm systems, and any improvement initiatives associated with mature, existing systems.

It is relevant throughout all the phases of the alarm management lifecycle (as defined in the current alarm management standards – see image below); from identification, design and implementation, though to operation, maintenance and ultimately, decommissioning.

It contains information, criteria, definitions, principles and responsibilities as defined in your company, along with design information relevant to the specific alarm system(s) in use on your site.


Why do I need an Alarm Philosophy?

  • The regulators expect it. It would be a target during any regulatory audit or intervention visit
  • It provides a consistency of approach to the governance of alarms on your site

We can guide you through the process or we can create one for your company to comply with requirements based on global standards.

An Alarm Philosophy document is fundamental to the effective management of alarms and without an Alarm Philosophy, any alarm improvement initiatives you undertake will be seriously compromised and ultimately fail.

Benefits of an Alarm Philosophy

Without an Alarm Philosophy, you will have an unregulated alarm system over which you have no real control. The alarm system you operate will be one which your vendors and contractors have given you often based on minimal cost and what is easiest for them to provide, and not what is most suitable for your process or application. In many cases, the alarm system you are given is found to be, ‘not fit for purpose’.

By creating an Alarm Philosophy, you will be in control of how your alarm system should be designed, implemented, operated and maintained, and some of the principal benefits are that:

  • It provides a consistent approach to alarm design which will minimise alarm proliferation
  • It can improve the regulatory performance, up time and productivity of your plant, all of which can save you money


Although the necessary content for an Alarm Philosophy document is defined within the alarm management standards; in our experience, customers we have engaged with are often unaware of the importance of the document, or struggle to create an Alarm Philosophy which is appropriate, and unfortunately, there is no such thing as an ‘off the shelf’, ‘one size fits all’ Alarm Philosophy, as the detail required is unique to your site.

In order to assist you, our experienced alarm management consultant will work with you and selected key colleagues on site over a period of a small number of days, to interactively create an Alarm Philosophy document which complies with the requirements of the alarm management standards, and is tailored to the individual needs and requirements of your plant, process, alarm system and regulatory commitments.

As an alternative, if you wish to create your own Alarm Philosophy; you could enroll in our two day training course ‘Alarm Management for Practitioners’, which will guide you through the whole alarm improvement process covering all phases of the alarm management lifecycle, including giving you all the information and guidance you require to successfully write and implement your own Alarm Philosophy document.

Speak to one of our friendly, experienced team about the right solution for you