Managing enterprise risk: Cryogenic safety in air separation units


Safety beats in the heart of industrial gases. There are inherant hazards in our operations and a primary role of management is to minimise the risk that these hazards would escalate to become accidents. Some risks have the potential to blow the whole company off course – these are referred to as ‘enterprise risk’ and they deservedly get plenty of attention in the boardroom.

Process safety can be done in a very scientific way, using computer modelling and analytical tools to quantify the infinitesimal probability of a catastrophic failure. Looking at a probability of one chance in several billion on a spreadsheet can perhaps leave us feeling that the risks are hypothetical. Looking at the images of the devastated ASU site at the Henan Gas Group Yima gasification plant in Sanmenxia in China, reminds us that the hypothetical situation can, and does, occasionally become the tragic reality. Fifteen people lost their lives as a result of that explosion in July 2019, and 16 others were seriously injured.

What went wrong at Yima?

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