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Terminal News

A holistic approach to managing risk

A holistic approach to managing risk
Oiltanking Asia Pacific’s Lai Siang Yeong explains how one of the largest independent tank storage operators has utilised Singapore’s new Safety Case regime to tailor its risk mitigating measures and address risk in a more comprehensive manner.

Introduced in September 2017, Singapore’s safety case regime enhances and streamlines regulations for major hazard installations and offers a more holistic approach for storage operators to address and manage their risks.

The Workplace Safety and Health regulations stipulate that major hazard installations (MHI) such as petroleum refining facilities, chemical processing plants and installations storing large quantities of toxic and flammable substances are required to submit a safety case as part of their license to operate.

Following the introduction of this new legislation, Oiltanking has had to submit two safety cases for its Seraya and Meranti sites. The safety case is one in which an MHI sets out how risks from major accident hazards can be reduced to as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP), ensuring safe operations in a sustainable manner.

In an interview with Tank Storage Magazine, Oiltanking Asia Pacific’s regional assets & operations & HSSE manager Lai Siang Yeong says that the new regime allows flexibility and a greater understanding of how to address risks.

‘The safety case regime allows flexibility for storage operators like Oiltanking to tailor our risk mitigating measures and address the risk in a more holistic manner. Under the regime, Oiltanking has taken on greater responsibilities to ensure that our storage facilities are operating safely and sustainably.'

As part of the safety case requirement, Oiltanking has:

• Proactively identified and managed its Health, Safety, Security and Environment (HSSE) risks through integration of all HSSE protocols.

• Reviewed and demonstrated that a systematic process is in place to identify and implement safety measures on-site.

• Assessed our safety measures and considered how organisational, technical and human factors contribute to safety in our installations.

• Conducted a gap analysis on business processes and improved any identified gaps.

• Improved our safe operations using ALARP demonstrations.

Managing stakeholders, aligning management systems and enhancing the skills and competency of team members all presented challenges during the safety case process. However, the support and engagement by the company’s senior management team was instrumental to the success of this journey. Across functions and departments, all members took on the ownership and embarked on this new regime together as a team.

Lai says: ‘We also started to engage the regulators proactively before the pre-receipt session to align parties’ expectations. Document availability and validity was initially challenging as there were hundreds of documents to be reviewed and updated. To overcome this process, a central document management system was developed for effectiveness on traceability and transparency.

‘Whilst the top management was supportive of the regime, we had to ensure all employees from ground level up understood their involvement in the safety case regime. Changing the mindset of the company’s employees to adhere to this new regime required a structured approach.

‘The core team members were sent on a four-day safety case practitioner workshop organised by the Singapore Chemical Industry Council/MHD. Regular platforms and engagements took place across all levels in the organisation. Additionally, quarterly updates on the safety case submission progress status were held to encourage an open discussion on the feedback and challenges faced.’

Following the acceptance of its safety case, Oiltanking will now:

(a) Review and implement a framework to close the gaps identified in the MHD improvement plan,

(b) Continue to improve business process to help identify hazards and mitigate risks through automation and digitalisation,

(c) Create a working group within the MHIs to share knowledge and experience in this new regime.

Lai will be speaking more about the company’s experiences of building up a safety case on the second day of the Tank Storage Asia conference on September 26 at the Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. For more information visit