Components of HSE Management
Health, Safety, and Environmental management should be part of the engineering profession in a country for the purpose of:
(a) Duty of care
(b) Economic reasons and
(c) Legal reasons.
HSE management should therefore consider five broad phases:
(ii) Design and implementation
(iii) Installation and commissioning
(iv) Operation and maintenance
(v) Changes after commissioning.
Compliance with the standards requires four essential elements:
(a) Identification of safety functions required for the safe shutdown.
(b) Assignment of a safety integrity level (SIL) for each safety function.
(c) Use of the safety lifecycle for the engineering design and
(d) Verification of the SIL achieved for each safety function.
Engineering Code of Practice
The engineering code of practice takes into consideration the following:
(a) Public Safety: Giving priority to the safety and well-being of the community and having regard to this principle in assessing obligations to the clients, employers, and colleagues.
(b) Risk Management: Taking reasonable steps to minimize the risk of loss of lives, injuries or suffering,
(c) Workplace and Construction Site: Minimizing potential dangers involved in the construction and manufacture of engineering products and processes.
(d) Public/Community well-being
(f) Conflicts of interest
The privilege of practicing engineering is entrusted to those qualified and who have the responsibility for applying engineering skills, scientific knowledge, and ingenuity for the advancement of human welfare and quality of life. Fundamental principles of conduct of engineers include truth, honesty, and trustworthiness in their service to society, honourable and ethical practice showing fairness, courtesy, and good faith towards clients, colleagues, and others. Engineers take societal, cultural, economic, environmental, and safety aspects into consideration and strive for the efficient use of the world’s resources to meet long-term human needs.
Safe Engineering Designs
Safety is a concern in virtually all engineering design processes. Engineers should understand safety in the context of engineering design and what it means to say that a design is safe against human injuries. Current design methods prioritize economic considerations over environmental ones. In some cases, economic considerations also serve environmental goals. For instance, the minimization of materials used in a structure means resources are saved. If they are saved at the expense of the length of the operating life of a product, then, economic considerations conflict with environmental interests which demand that products be made as durable as possible because of the need to minimize resource usage and waste generation in the long term.
Safety is the antonym of risk. So a design is safe to the extent that it reduces risk. Safe design aims at minimizing risk in the standard sense of this term. A safe design is the combination of all those procedures and principles that are used by engineers to make designed objects safe against accidents leading to human death or injuries, long-term health effects; damage to the environment, or malfunctioning in general. Several design strategies used to achieve safety in operations of potentially dangerous technology are:
(i) Inherently safe design.
(ii) Safety factors.
(iii) Negative feedback (self-shutdown) and
(iv) Multiple independent safety barriers.
Probabilistic Risk Assessment (PRA) is the most common method of assessing safety but safe designs are used to reduce risks in the standard (probabilistic) sense but are inadequate. Safe design strategies are used to reduce estimated probabilities of injuries or reduce uncertainties not only risks. They are used to cope with hazards and eventualities that cannot be assigned meaningful probabilities.
Design Principles in Engineering
There are four (4) main design principles in engineering practice.
(1) Inherently safe design:
This minimizes the inherent dangers in the process as far as possible. Potential hazards are excluded rather than enclosed or coped with. For instance, dangerous substances are replaced by less dangerous ones, and fireproof materials are used rather than inflammable ones.
(2) Safety Factors
Construction should be strong enough to resist load and disturbances exceeding those that are intended. Common ways to obtain such safety reserves are to employ explicitly chosen numerical safety factors. If a safety factor of two (2) is used when building a bridge, then the bridge is calculated to resist twice the maximal load to which it will be exposed in practice.
(3) Negative feedback mechanisms
This is introduced to achieve a self-shutdown in case of device failure or when the operator loses control. Examples are safety valves that let out steam when the pressure is too high in a steam boiler and the dead man’s hole that stops the train when the driver falls asleep. One of the most important safety measures in the nuclear industry is to ensure that reactors close down automatically in critical situations.
(4) Multiple Independent Safety Barriers
Safety barriers are arranged in chains so that each barrier is independent of its predecessors (if the first fails, the second is still intact). The first barrier prevents accidents; the second barrier limits the consequences of an accident and rescue services as the last resort.
Safety factors and multiple safety barriers deal with uncertainties as well as risks. Currently, Probabilistic Risk Analysis (PRA) is used but does not deal with uncertainties. Probabilistic calculations can support but will not supplant the engineers’ ethically responsible judgment (environment, health, and safety culture). Safety engineering principles also include education of operators, maintenance of equipment and installations and incidence reporting are examples of safety practices of general importance.
Bad Engineering Practices
Seven (7) bad engineering practices have been identified:
(i) Believing that if something is not specifically stated, either “shall do” or “shall not do” in the standards, an engineer does not need to worry about it.
(ii) Thinking that meeting the minimum requirements means the process is safe and complies with the standard
(iii) Ignoring the importance of good engineering practice.
(iv) Designing systems that meet economic requirements but not safety protection requirements.
(v) Neglecting human factors (errors in calculations etc).
(vi) Focusing on capital cost and not on lifecycle costs.
(vii) Focusing only on the safety integrity level (SIL) and not on prevention.
Safety is an essential ethical requirement in engineering practice. Strategies for safe design are used not only to reduce estimated probabilities of injuries but also to cope with hazards and eventualities that cannot be assigned meaningful probabilities. Designers have an ethical responsibility to make constructions that are safe for future use. Safety is concerned with avoiding certain classes of events that are morally right to avoid.
In engineering design, safety consideration always includes safety against unintended human death or injuries that occur as a result of the unintended use of the designed object for:
(i) Prevention of damage to the environment.
(ii) Prevention of long-term health effects.
For example, if a bridge collapses, the engineers who designed it are held responsible.
Building designers and builders must obey construction safety in the use of Scaffolds, tool nets, tool boxes, mechanical lifts, and manual lifts under safe procedures, use of personal protective equipment (PPEs) on sites (boots/helmets), clear passages, and road-ways, construction tapes to cordon off work areas, etc. Most engineers have neglected this aspect, thus, playing with the lives of the generality of the populace. What engineers do has lasting influences on safety and defines our level of Environment, Health, and Safety culture.
HSE Sustainability Management
This is about the long-term survival of humanity. It recognizes that decisions made today must enable both those in the present as well as people of the foreseeable future to make effective choices about their quality of life. Failure to identify risks to safety and the inability to address or control these risks can result in massive costs, both human and economic. The multidisciplinary nature of safety engineering means that very – broad arrays of professionals are actively involved in accident prevention or safety engineering.
A critical fault endangers or few people. A catastrophic fault endangers harms or kills a significant number of people. Engineer’s errors or inability to incorporate the HSE management in his practice spells catastrophic.
The Way Forward
Everyone must strengthen his or her understanding of HSE awareness by making safety a priority. Also, cost-effective solutions in order to gain the most significant return on investment should be developed. Engineers take the early design of a system, analyze it to find what faults can occur, and then propose safety requirements in design specifications upfront and changes to existing systems to make the system safer.
If significant, safety problems are discovered late in the design process, correcting them can be very expensive. This type of error has the potential to waste large sums of
(i) At all times, take all reasonable care to ensure that your work and the consequences of your work cause no unacceptable risk to safety.
(ii) Take all reasonable steps to make your management/client and those to whom they have a duty of care aware of the risks you identify.
(iii) Make anyone overruling or neglecting your professional advice formally aware of the consequent risks.
It is critical for engineers to maintain a deep and broad understanding of the many technical and professional practice issues that they will inevitably encounter in their role as employees of public owners. This is achieved through appropriate education, training, experience, license, professional engineering practice, and continuing professional development.