CP Talks to Head of New Safety Center

Trish Kerin shared her thoughts about what the ISC aims to do.

By Mark Rosenzweig, Editor in Chief

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1405 trish kerin buttonThe Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE), Rugby, U.K., has appointed Trish Kerin as director of the new IChemE Safety Centre (ICS). “Having a dedicated ISC leader in place will help to present a coordinated approach for influencing government and policy on improving process safety in industry and assist in delivering on objectives outlined in IChemE’s technical strategy document, ‘Chemical Engineering Matters,’” says the group’s CEO David Brown. That document foresees the ISC providing “the overarching framework for all of the institution’s safety and risk activities. It will offer a forum for knowledge exchange and the promotion of best practices…”

CP contacted Kerin, who earned a mechanical engineering degree from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and has held a variety of safety-related roles at oil, plastics and gas companies in Australia, and asked about her plans for the ISC:

What will you be doing in the near-term (say, the next 12 months)?

“The ISC work streams are selected by the member companies, via an advisory board structure. The initial streams selected are focused on building foundations and establishing common understanding. This is in the form of a common-language working group to review current terms across industry and agree to the common adoption of them. We are also conducting a survey to form a baseline for where companies are at on their safety journey. This will be used to prioritize future work streams as well as measure improvement over a period of time. Other initial work streams are likely to include developing sharing tools, expanding the implementation of leading indicators and exploring human factors.”

What are your goals for ISC over the next three to five years?

“ISC aspires to offer leadership in fundamental research, knowledge and competence in process safety, which underpins inherently safer process design and robustly engineered safety systems, and supports the upholding and continued evolution of systems and procedures for maintaining safer process operations, which are sustained by the best practice in the management and audit of process safety in a changing environment taking full account of the contribution of human factors, behaviors and external influences and recognizing that the ISC, in partnership with other experts, must communicate and engage all key stakeholders in order to shape the prevailing culture in the workplace and in society at large in order to build a common understanding of risk issues and to develop and utilize new ways for cost-effective and sustainable risk reduction in the process industries.

“One focus area for the centre in the medium- to long-term is to explore how education and training can be improved across all levels of an organization, from shop floor, to managers, to the board. IChemE currently offers a range of programs in these areas, and we are looking to enhance these programs. We are also exploring ways to improve how process safety is taught in university, not only to chemical engineers, but other disciplines of engineering and OHS [occupational health and safety] graduates. This activity has a long-term delivery plan, and is about investing in the future. Other goals will be developed as the member companies identify their priorities. We will also be looking to establish some research projects to take safety management to the next level.”

How will ISC differ from existing professional society efforts, such as AIChE’s Center for Chemical Process Safety?

“The ISC will build on the fantastic work of the CCPS and other organizations, such as the European Process Safety Centre and the Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Centre. A key to the ISC platform is to enable sharing of learning and experience across a multitude of industry sectors, taking process safety from the traditional world of petrochemical industries to a wider audience of other industries where high-consequence, low-frequency events occur. These industries include mining and mineral processing, utilities, logistics and storage, pharmaceutical, pulp and paper, food and beverage, speciality gases, waste management and engineering design houses. The fundamentals of maintaining control are similar, no matter which industry you work in.”

ISC initially will operate from Melbourne. It can be contacted via safetycentre@icheme.org.


rosenzweigweb.jpgMark Rosenzweig is Chemical Processing's Editor in Chief. You can e-mail him at mrosenzweig@putman.net.

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