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Title: Why failures happen and how to prevent future failures
Downloadable: Yes 
Catalog No.: 2256s
Date of Publication: Jun 1 2012 12:00AM
Price: $25.00 US
Authors: Prof .Phil Hopkins
Abstract: ENGINEERING STRUCTURES, such as pressure systems, fail. What can we learn from these failures, and could they have been avoided? This paper emphasizes that learning from failures can help us reduce future failures.

Failures occur due to a complex mix of problems, in particular deterioration with time and changing conditions. But other factors such as human errors and safety culture need to be considered. The paper uses oil and gas pipelines to illustrate well-known threats to these systems, but notes that threats such as management failures and the absence of a safety culture are threats that also need to be considered, and the paper devotes more time to these lesser-known threats.

The paper also considers how adopting ‘best practice’ can help to reduce failures, but ‘best practice’ extends beyond best engineering practices. It also includes ‘best staff’, ‘best management practices’, etc. The paper concludes:

Pressure systems such as pipelines will always pose some level of risk: our challenge is to control this risk to a reasonable level.
We must continue to use formal integrity management methods on these systems, but increase our investment in process safety, risk management, staff competency, and ‘best practices’.
We need to stop relying on ‘lagging’ safety indicators, and include more ‘leading’ safety indicators, such as near-misses.
We need to closely look at other aspects of pressure system integrity management, including safety culture, staff competency, and human error. These ‘softer’ issues become increasingly important as pressure systems age.

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