About Electrical, Control and Instrumentation (E, C&I)

Introducing the Key Topics

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 E, C&I equipment and systems at these sites is described by the COMAH Competent Authority E, C&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

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:

  • process control systems;
  • safety instrumented systems;
  • alarm systems.

Explosive Atmospheres

In the context of the E, C&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:

  • fixed electrical installations;
  • moveable electrical equipment;
  • lightning in relation to structures with a risk of explosion;
  • electrostatic hazards;
  • radio frequency radiation;
  • isolating joints, for example in cathodic protection systems;
and the mitigation of releases using:
  • flammable and toxic gas detection;
  • fire detection.

Electrical Power Systems

In the context of major accident hazards, electrical power systems are concerned with:

  • the management, design, installation, operation and maintenance of electrical power systems so that they provide the necessary reliability, availability and survivability and so that they prevent danger to personnel;
  • the initiation of major accidents by electrical equipment through fire and explosion.

Cyber security

In the context of major accident hazards, cyber security is concerned with the security of industrial automation and control systems (IACS), specifically basic process control systems and instrumented safety systems that can initiate or protect against major accidents.

Safety Report Assessment

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 E, C&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) eg 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.

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Updated: 2021-08-26