Keeping workers safer

Jul 21st, 2014

By Jackey Locke

A bird's eye view of the harsh conditions in which people in the process, nuclear and aerospace industries work.
Keeping workers safer

A team from Memorial lead by Dr. Faisal Khan, head of process engineering and Vale Research Chair in Process Risk and Safety Engineering, is working on a risk assessment tool to predict high-severity accidents before they occur.

The safety of workers on job sites has to be paramount, and in the process, nuclear and aerospace industries the same holds true. While the frequency of severe incidents in these industries is low, one can not assume that will be the case in the long term.

“Using data available on near-misses and incidents of low severity, we can predict high-severity sequences,” said Dr. Faisal Khan. “Recent accidents, such as the British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the series of explosions and fires at British Petroleum's refinery in 2005, are worrisome.”

In processing facilities, such as those used for oil and gas production and processing, unusual events occur on a regular basis. Dr. Khan and his team hope to capture these abnormal incidents and update the operational risk in an informed manner, also known as dynamic risk assessment.

“The real-time monitoring of an operation makes it possible to dynamically conduct risk analysis as abnormal events are observed,” he explained. “Fault identification, detection and diagnosis tools play a vital role in conducting real-time dynamic risk assessments.”

The outcomes of the project—models, methodologies and an integrated software suite for safety management—all of which are important for the industry.

These outcomes will facilitate real-time evaluation of risk and the implementation of performance-based safety standards in process facilities,” said Dr. Khan. “They will also contribute to the development of advanced tools for online fault diagnosis and accident forecasting.”

The direct benefits of this research for Canadian industries is preventing losses, minimizing liabilities and enhancing profitability of production and operations. Dr. Khan’s research will help to address key issues of safety during design and operation, to implement inherent safety concepts and to demonstrate a company’s commitment to safety."

“In addition to the above, our research will also help Canadian industries increase awareness among practitioners; Awareness about the importance of inherent safety considerations in all stages of a facility’s life cycle; provide a systematic methodology to ensure cost-effective implementation of risk minimization in oil and gas production and processing; and increase the safety and integrity level of the processing facility, while ensuring their economic efficiency,” said Dr. Khan.




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