When discussing risk management efforts, many in the industry reference failsafe systems. While these systems can prove invaluable, they can also provide a false sense of security and allow facilities to overlook major safety concerns.
Failsafe equipment, defined by dictionary.com as “a secondary system that ensures continued operation even if the primary system fails,” may function as a backup solution, but does not necessarily ensure proper function of vital process controls during a fire. In any plant or refinery emergency, control is most important factor and often failsafe equipment lacks the technological sophistication to make critical decisions about when to initiate shutoff. Tripped prematurely, failsafe shutdowns might lead to even more unsafe conditions or costly facility issues.
Safety: Beyond Minimum Standards
With human life at stake, companies must consider safety concerns beyond the minimum requirements of OSHA, EPA or local industry standards. Failsafe equipment, which rarely includes a sufficient level of fireproofing, is often susceptible to damage and failure in the event of a high-temperature-rise fire.