The implementation of the PSM/RMP Program is a team-based effort. In my opinion, no single part of a Process Safety Program is more important than your Process Safety Team. Put another way: If you don’t have a strong Process Safety Team you won’t have a strong Process Safety Program.
Who should be on the Team?
At a minimum:
- Each Responsible Person listed in the “Management System” is a member of the PSM team. Responsible Person’s are people that have responsibility for implementing individual elements of the Process Safety Program.
- If not already included as a Responsible Person, all Process Operators are also included as PSM team members.
The team can also benefit from additional diversity such as senior members of management outside of Process Safety. Examples might include the Plant Manager or Director of Warehousing, Production Supervisors /Managers, Health, Safety & Environmental staff, etc.
What should the team do?
While a successful team serves many functions, it is there for two essential purposes:
- To educate and inform
- To provide oversight
Process Safety Team as an Educator
Your covered process and the safety programs that cover it are large and complex. So it the overall business that they are a part of. Our first priority in the meeting is to inform each other of what is happening in the parts of the program we deal with on a daily basis – or we are responsible for. This is often referred to as “getting everyone on the same page.”
Process Safety Team’s Oversight Role
The most often failed function of a Process Safety Team is to provide oversight. The Responsible Person for an element has to make day-to-day decisions to keep the process (and the business) running and we should ensure that they defend these decisions to the Process Safety Team so that the team can either validate or correct them.
For example:If the MOC Responsible Person decided that a specific change was not required to go through the MOC process, they should make that argument to the Process Safety Team which should either validate that choice or – as a group – convince the Responsible Person that their decision was in error so they can take corrective action.
Another example: The Responsible Person and two other staff members have completed an Incident Investigation on a small process leak that recently occurred. The Process Safety Team should either validate that completed Investigation or – as a group – convince the Responsible Person to investigate additional avenues, or provide addition recommendations.
This simple concept: Defend your decisions to a team of your peers so they can validate them or correct your thinking is the beating heart of any Process Safety Program. If you do it well, you provide a feedback loop, and the entire team will get better at their jobs. Whether it’s an Incident Investigation, a Management of Change, Contractor evaluations, etc., Validating your decisions with your Process Safety Team will improve the performance of the program more than nearly any other thing you can do.
Bonus Content: What should we discuss at our PSM meetings?
I am often dumbstruck when this question is asked of me, because I NEVER run out of things to talk about. (You can all stop laughing now)
While PSM Team Meetings should be structured to allow diverse topics and input, certain topics should be discussed at any general PSM Team Meeting:
- Any open recommendations in the program to review status and ensure recommendations are progressing towards resolution.
- Any upcoming, ongoing, or recently completed MOCs, PSSRs, Incident Investigations, etc. to review status and/or adequacy of documentation.
- Any upcoming, ongoing, or recently completed work that has, or may have, safety ramifications for the covered process(es).
- Team Validation of any decisions / work product produced by Responsible Persons
Note: Special thanks to end-users VD & CG who prompted me to include this information (and more) directly into my PSM Element Written Plans. We ALL improve with feedback!