The Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering (CSChE) has successfully turned the Process Safety Management Standard (PSM) it developed three years ago into the Canadian Standards Association’s first national standard. The achievement addresses a need in Canada, which is one of the few Western countries without prescriptive legislation and regulations.

“Process Safety Management is the application of management principles and systems to the identification, understanding and control of process hazards to prevent process-related injuries and accidents — that’s the starting definition,” says University of Toronto chemical engineer Graeme Norval, who chaired the project group that undertook the initiative earlier this year. Norval says that the group was made up of a diversity of people who brought the perspectives of their various industries and government departments to these deliberations, so that the language and meaning of the resulting standard would be as universally applicable as possible. For example, the condition “loss of containment” could mean a pipeline leak to the operator of a chemical plant or a rock collapse in the shaft of a mining site. “You have to understand all the process hazards and the process risks,” Norval says. “It’s a performance-based standard so it’s smaller than the CSChE standard in terms of length. But it’s very precise in what the elements are that you need to have.”

The financial cost to CSChE for developing the CSA standard was $140,000, an amount that was successfully supported by companies, industry trade associations and government departments. The final product was sent out for a public review that wrapped up in October and the resulting feedback will be incorporated over the new few months. Norval estimates that the new standard should be in place by this March or April of 2016.