Functional Safety Management is an investment

resulting in profit on the bottom line – even if it is

not always that obvious.


Safety First. For a very good reason this is the classic mantra of the offshore industry. Avoiding unwanted incidents to personnel is an obvious reason for carefully sticking to the right procedures. However economic calculations, too, offer good reasons for staying alert to changing market conditions. Lost production is an evil that can quickly result in considerable costs. One of the tools for avoiding spurious plant outages and for increasing operational safety is the use of a Functional Safety Management System (FSMS) – for optimizing safety by focusing all the way from the initial hazard and risk management to final decommissioning.


“There is a balance between operational costs and the cost of safety, but you can’t always see the return from the latter. It is rarely visualized on the bottom line but it is a question of understanding the risk which is an important issue for when sustaining the licence to operate” states John Walkington, Managing Consultant in Functional Safety Management at ABB. In the oil & gas business where the recent market conditions require careful scrutinizing of all expenditure, interested parties should give the functional safety management aspects of the business a continued high priority and focus.


“This balance is a dilemma which everybody has to consider, and it is important to continue investing in both process and functional safety. It always turns out that good safety is good business. The implementation of a rigorous Functional Safety Management System (FSMS) will go a long way to support the needs of the business to successfully continue to operate in a safe way. This is required regardless of any external market impacts on the business,” explains John Walkington. The responsibilities of oil and gas companies do not grow less rigid as a consequence of a lower oil price.


Recent updates to good practice standards such as IEC 61511-1 Ed 2 where a number of things which used to be “shoulds”, now have turned into “shalls” means that Functional safety compliance in today’s environment therefore needs to be more demonstrable. Adoption of such IEC safety life-cycle management is an industry recognised approach for such demonstrating of good practice – even when it is not mandatory.



It’s important to focus on areas such as timely planning, detailed hazard reviews, robust requirements specification, correct technology selection and the need to meet long term operation and maintenance of such safety functions. These are an essential part of Functional Safety Management and should for a start not only result in safer production, but over time in considerable operational savings.


“Within ABB Denmark and throughout our global network of dedicated safety execution centres (SECs), we go to great lengths to fully implement our TUV accredited functional safety management system, because of this ABB have been described as best in class,” says John Walkington, that can see the advantages of this focus.


“This level of spend is tiny when compared to the costs of a production stoppage, break-down or incident occurring within a US$ multi-million operational unit. If sufficient resources and competencies are not applied to verify, validate and build in the necessary requirements for successful operation and maintenance, the costs can be substantial. That is something the industry must have on their radar from the very start, even if it may not always be obvious at the beginning. Investing in robust FSMS surely pays over time.”.


Support the needs of the business to successfully continue to operate in a safe way.

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