Failure to control process conditions and the risks from electrical installations and equipment have been the main or underlying causes of many major accidents both in the UK and abroad including Buncefield and BP Texas City. HSE research into the causation of major accidents and incidents also indicates that a failure to adequately control process conditions, especially during normal operations, is responsible for the loss of containment of hazardous substances.
The approach to the inspection of EC & I equipment and systems at these sites is described by the COMAH Competent Authority EC & I Operational Delivery Guide.
In addition to the assessment of Operator’s Safety Reports, the E,C&I inspection topics focus on three key areas when examining the control of process related hazards.
Functional Safety is concerned with the management, design, installation, operation and maintenance of instrumented process safety systems that reduce the risk of a major accident. Such systems include:
In the context of the EC & I inspection, explosive atmospheres is concerned with the management, design, installation, operation and maintenance of systems that reduce the risk of electrical sources of ignition arising from:
In the context of major accident hazards, electrical power systems are concerned with:
Safety Report Assessment is a structured process by which the CA examines the adequacy of safety reports against the purposes set out in Schedule 4 Part 1 of the COMAH Regulations and which contributes to the CA's decision about whether the measures taken by the operator for the prevention and mitigation of major accidents are seriously deficient
Visitors to this portal should note that Inspection of EC & I in the offshore industry, mines, onshore hydrocarbon drilling, extraction and production (including fracking) is undertaken by HSE’s Energy Division (ED)
Other electrical and control systems inspection work within HSE may be undertaken by the Field Operations Directorate (FOD) e.g. machinery safety.
As a result, duty holders should be aware that inspectors within ED and FOD may use different relevant benchmarks when assessing compliance with Health and Safety law.