Process safety:  the fundamental things apply

By following the 10 process safety fundamentals outlined in IOGP Report 638 – Process Safety Fundamentals, frontline workers can eliminate fatal or high severity safety events.

Based on an approach similar to that of IOGP’s successful Life-Saving Rules (which they complement), the Association’s new Process Safety Fundamentals (PSFs) are data-driven, and draw attention to those situations that are most likely to lead to process safety fatalities.

IOGP Report 638 defines process safety as “a disciplined framework for managing the integrity of operating systems and processes that handle hazardous substances.”

As shown here, each PSF is expressed by a compelling image, accompanied by a short statement designed to trigger positive awareness and action.

IOGP’s Safety Committee, which produced the report, based the PSFs on a decade of data ending in 2017.  This dataset showed that 128 people lost their lives in 56 process safety events during that period. “It’s worth noting that the PSFs are not intended to exhaustively address all process safety risks and hazards in our industry. Instead, they should be used to supplement a company’s own underlying systems for process safety management,” says the Association’s Safety Director, Olav Skår. “While the content of the PSFs should be familiar to process safety workers, presenting them in the way that they are seen in the Report, together with ancillary materials, provides a clearer picture of what process safety means on the front line,” Olav says.

“We accept that it may not always be possible to follow a particular PSF.  Even then, the PSFs empower people on the frontline to raise issues and dilemmas as they arise.  This empowerment helps to ensure effective process safety management, including potential engineering modifications as needed. While the use of PSFs isn’t mandatory among IOGP Members or anyone else, we do encourage their application whenever process safety work is undertaken,” Olav adds.

IOGP’s new PSFs have already received endorsement from operating and contractor companies as well as regulators around the world.

For example, Dennis O’Keefe, Head of Division, Safety and Integrity of Australia’s National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA), has said his organization “expects the oil and gas industry to take all practicable steps to eliminate fatalities and major accident events across all their activities. We believe that adoption of the IOGP Process Safety Fundamentals will contribute to further reductions in process safety incidents and the achievement of that goal.”

Visit to download Report 638 in full. A range of promotional material to inform employees and contractors about the benefits of PSFs and encourage their use is also available. This material includes a slide deck, a poster, and guidance cards.

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