- Within an operating firm, personnel changes may be more frequent than hardware or process change. Arrivals and departures will occur at both the operating and management levels.
- Personnel changes present challenges for the process safety management. New staff must learn both process characteristics and their roles in the process safety management systems. Both documentation and training are key elements in this transaction.
- Similarly, changes in organizational responsibilities may require careful review of process safety management systems to assure that all process safety responsibilities are appropriately assigned.
- The departure of experienced staff creates special challenges. Every facility seems to have a certain individual who has worked at the site since startup and has been involved with all major expansions. This individual knows where all the underground piping runs, why equipment is operated in a certain manner, what major accidents have occurred, and many other valuable pieces of information that may never have been documented. Even if a site has implemented review and documentation programs for new projects, the documentation for changes made to older facilities may not be available except in the minds of select individuals. When these individuals leave, this part of the “Company Memory” is lost.
- When organizational changes cause these historians to leave, it is important to have them document as much of the facility’s technical history as possible before they leave. In particular, any unique operating knowledge or characteristics should be documented. The rationale behind design decisions and operating practices should also be captured.
- The lost of multiple personnel can be even more significant. As companies continue to streamline staffing, there comes a point beyond which any further reductions can have serious safety implications. This may not be apparent under normal operation, but in an emergency, if staffing levels and/or staff experience levels are too low, a minor problem could easily escalate to become a major incident. Staff organization should be tested for consistency with the operational demand of all difference circumstances, including both normal operations and emergencies. This can be managed by planning a minimum staffing and experience level for each project unit. Any change in staff would require a review to ensure that these minimum levels are not violated. When staffing experience in a unit becomes too low, certain measures should be initiated, such as increased training, the temporary retention of transferees, or the engaging of retirees as temporary consultants.
- Reference: CCPS(1989) Guidelines for Technical Management of Chemical Process Safety
Management/Management of change