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The term safety often gets used in the context of occupational safety, where the main focus is often slips, trips and falls. However, process safety and functional safety have a different focus.
Safety is a general term that has been defined as “Freedom from danger, risk, or injury”, or “Freedom from unacceptable risk”. It involves people, processes and the planet being protected from harm, or any other event which could be considered undesirable.
Process safety involves keeping processes under control and stopping loss of containment of hazardous materials from pipes, vessels and process equipment. It is the concern of many different disciplines including materials experts, process experts, mechanical, electrical, control and instrumentation, as well as process safety professionals.
Functional safety is a part of the overall plant Process Safety approach. When hazardous events occur, we need to know that instrumentation and automation devices such as sensors, logic solvers and final elements such as valves will bring the process to a safe state. When applied correctly, functional safety principles should ensure that each hazardous event is prevented or mitigated by equipment designed with the correct level of integrity that is appropriate for the risk posed.
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