Plant Safety: Effectively Share Insights from Incidents

A proven approach can ensure lessons get communicated and acted upon

By Mike Bearrow, Rolls-Royce Controls and Data Services, and Kim Turner, consultant

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The gatekeepers filtering and accepting/rejecting opportunities must be exceptional people who can be trusted to separate the wheat from the chaff. They should be held accountable for inclusion or exclusion. Likewise, it’s vital to hold members of the leadership team personally accountable for disposition of global opportunities assigned to them. Measurement by corporate-level executives and board members is essential to ensure you get value from the HUAA process. What gets measured really does get done.

The Keys to Success

To have a successful HUAA process, you must:

• Have the right automation for the job. It must be easy to use, intuitive, follow good business processes, enable reporting and auditing, and engage all users in the process.

• Empower the right people to be able to identify opportunities. Curiosity, innovation and a desire to improve, along with being given the time and space to go hunting for opportunities are key characteristics. Efficient identification and collection of opportunities is the foundation of HUAA.

• Empower the right people to make decisions on where the value lies in the opportunities identified. For example, a mechanical engineer reviews a new American Petroleum Institute recommended practice on mechanical integrity, while a PSM expert evaluates opportunities arising from findings of a U.S. Chemical Safety Board incident report. Properly prioritizing the opportunities means your business is kept safe, productive and profitable.

• Empower the right people to make the decision on how to implement the opportunity to get the best value. Using the people who best know the particular aspect impacted and have the authority to take action to manage the process is the most efficient way to make the opportunity a reality.

• Make everyone in the HUAA process responsible for his or her part in it. Responsibility breeds interest, involvement and commitment.

• Measure and continually improve. Getting better and better will allow you to identify opportunities.

A HUAA opportunity-management process helps ensure that vital initiatives and important opportunities are consistently and systematically identified, evaluated and prioritized. Imagine how much more efficient and effective an organization would run if we were taking advantage of all the knowledge around us.

If properly designed and implemented, a HUAA management system will ensure your overall organization’s risk profile is known, visible and manageable at the lowest level possible. Not having a HUAA management system may be the most expensive mistake you ever make.

Avoid Confusion

Many people use the terms data, information, knowledge, wisdom and ideas interchangeably but they have very different meanings.

Data are numbers on a spreadsheet, maybe without context or units of measure.
Information has context like units of measure. Data are turned into information by organizing them so one can easily draw conclusions. Data and information deal with the past.
Knowledge has the complexity of experience, which comes about by seeing it from different perspectives. Information is static, knowledge is dynamic. Knowledge deals with the present.
Wisdom is the ultimate level of understanding (Figure 3). We can share our experiences that create the building blocks for wisdom. However, imparting wisdom involves more than just such sharing; it requires putting knowledge into the personal context of the audience.
Ideas are thoughts or suggestions as to a possible course of action. We refer to ideas in this discussion as “opportunities;” opportunities can be information, knowledge or wisdom.

MIKE BEARROW, PE, is principal consultant, process safety management, for Rolls-Royce Controls and Data Services, Houston. KIM TURNER is a consultant based in Nottingham, U.K. E-mail them at and

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  • • Isolated Cases An inescapable fact is that few, if any, harmful conditions, behaviors, actions, or inactions are one-of-a-kind, one-off, isolated, unique examples/cases. There is a consistency of performance/process/leadership/culture that tends to replicate results/ outcomes and create extent . When a harmful condition, behavior, action, or inaction appears to be a one-of-a-kind, one-off, isolated, unique example/ case it is almost always a symptom of dysfunctional observation. The item does have extent, but the extent is not seen. “Cockroaches never travel alone. If you see one on the kitchen floor, expect thirty under the fridge.”


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