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ATL
Digi

Atlanta
Digital

 

While there’s been growth in corporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) programs and the availability of technologies for assessing risk, measuring performance, and improving efficiency, a new report shows there remains a considerable gap between safety intent and achievement.

For its 8th annual Process Safety Report, Sphera surveyed 239 process safety management (PSM) and operational risk management (ORM) professionals from around the world to explore relationships between policy and reality, technology and its adoption, as well as ESG, regulation, and compliance.

Sphera Process Safety Report 2023
(Source: Sphera Process Safety Report 2023)

 

Each year since Sphera’s inaugural Safety Survey in 2016, approximately two-thirds of respondents have pointed to gaps between their organizations’ safety goals and reality. This number is down to 65% in 2023 from 69% in 2022, but the results show that process safety goals are still routinely not being achieved, even with the availability of technologies that can help overcome inefficiencies and information silos.

Limited Resources, Conflicting Priorities, Inadequate Planning

Only two-thirds of safety-critical maintenance tasks are completed in a typical month, survey respondents estimated. The top three challenges to this are limited resources (60%), conflicting priorities (56%) and inadequate planning (45%). Participants pointed to reducing major accident hazard (MAH) risk exposure (66%), operational excellence (57%) and regulatory compliance (48%) as the top drivers that improve process safety performance.

Sphera Process Safety Report 2023
(Source: Sphera Process Safety Report 2023)

All respondents indicated that technology enables effective PSM and ORM or will enable it in the future, and a majority (83%) said that risk awareness and safety could be improved by digitized, real-time process safety risk indicators. An overwhelming majority (80%) also agree that technology helps reduce vulnerability to hazard events.

PSM and ORM play a vital role in a company’s ESG performance, with 86% of respondents indicating that PSM fits into ESG programs. At least 60% tie PSM to governance and environmental aspects, and 40% relate it to social aspects. Many respondents also think that environmental impact is important from the corporate perspective, and 71% express concerns about environmental impact from incidents.

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“Our Process Safety Report shows a continued gap between safety goals and reality. While companies increasingly value technology for reducing vulnerabilities, the rate of adoption and implementation have a way to go,” said Paul Marushka, CEO and President, Sphera. “Digital tools enable a shift from reactive to proactive PSM, and technology-supported business processes provide transparency and visibility into risk in real-time. Within the context of ESG, PSM and ORM drive risk awareness, keeping people safe and operations productive.”

Here are some additional insights from the Sphera report:

  • The top three factors that negatively impact process safety performance are attributed to people and behaviors in the company. Those are human factors (63%), organizational culture (52%), and staffing issues (38%). Additionally, 23% said senior leadership has a negative effect. This shows that the cultural dimension and leadership from the top are critical for effective process safety performance.
  • The top four causes for increased risk are loss of experience (52%); conflicts between policy and frontline working practices (46%); incomplete, missing or inaccurate standard operating procedures (40%); and not sharing lessons learned (40%)
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