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Functional Safety For Managers – What Managers Need to Know

The purpose of this paper is to provide managers with an overview of their role and responsibility with regards to Process and Functional Safety, as defined within the IEC61511 standard1. Experience has shown that many companies management teams have little or no understanding of functional and/or process safety requirements. Process safety is driven by corporate culture, which is often not aligned with functional safety requirements, such as: openness, fostering a learning culture and implementing functional safety management, all of which have a direct bearing on process safety. 

Incorrect or missing input information, insufficient resources, lack of facilitator or team skills, and poor communication between disciplines can each lead to severe under-design or over-design problems with Safety Instrumented Systems (SIS). These problems can cost large amounts of money and sometimes even lives, yet they can usually be prevented by rational and meticulous application of the relatively basic functional safety management techniques presented in this paper. 

Managers need to be aware of this and to understand the role they play in ensuring process and functional safety is maintained. Simply ordering cost cuts across the board without understanding the repercussions from a process safety viewpoint could, and has, in some cases, as explained in this paper, been the direct cause of accidents and loss of life.

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