We’re not far off our annual Process Safety Culture Survey, which is issued across our businesses that operate major hazard assets – like high-pressure gas and LNG. So, it feels timely to consider our responsibilities and where we are.
With the Grenfell Tower disaster in London and the consequences of the terrible weather events in the US fresh in everyone’s mind, it’s more important than ever to understand what Process Safety is – and the implications if we don’t have the right controls in place and working effectively.
For National Grid this means that we understand the nature of the risks from our assets and manage them to ensure safety and integrity. We have to make sure our assets are well-designed, well-constructed, properly inspected, maintained and safely operated.
Process safety calls for robust safety management arrangements. Our Process Safety Management System applies to our highest hazard assets. It consists of a process safety framework, Process Safety commitment statement and 12 risk control standards that explain what businesses need to do to control the risks to the standards we expect.
We carry out a Process Safety Culture Survey each year to make sure we continue to improve as an organisation. The survey is carried out in the UK and the US, the results are discussed at the relevant safety committees and actions are agreed and implemented by the businesses.
Our 2016 survey showed that we are making good progress. We have a strong culture of stopping the job if something is unsafe and we are far more confident that any issues raised will be followed up.
There are still areas to improve and we’ve been working on these. In the UK, we’ve addressed the visibility of leaders with a new requirement of four safety visits a year. We’re asking incident review panels to share lessons learned more widely and to make sure that the person who raised the issue hears the outcome of the investigation.
In the US, we are working on improving our procedures for safety critical activities to make sure they are available, easy to understand and safe to follow for employees doing the work.
In NGV, we’ve reviewed our process safety performance indicators in line with risk bowtie analysis – a model that helps identify and manage risk – to report on our performance. There’s also an extensive programme of activity in our LNG operations, focusing on human factors and the importance of job owners and site client representatives in managing contractors on site.
So, who does Process Safety affect?
While the Major Hazard Assets (MHAs) are in our gas businesses – including transmission, control centres, generation, LNG and Transgas – anyone in the chain that may have an influence on how they are procured, constructed, supported or maintained has a role to play; making sure we are considering the whole view of safety and cost when making decisions.
That’s why the next Process Safety Culture Survey will be going out to around 4,000 employees with a role in process safety across National Grid. And I urge everyone to contribute and play a part in any follow-up actions.
Head of UK Safety and Group Head of Process Safety, Safety, Sustainability & Resilience