An Interpretation of the SAWS Order No. 116 “Guidance Notes on Tightening Management of Safety Instrumented Systems for Chemical Industry” - Rounding out Safety Instrumented System (SIS) and Safety Integrity Level (SIL) Certification

10/11/15

Author: ZHOU Tianshu, Bureau Veritas Industry and Facilities Division Greater China, Inspection Department

In November 2014, the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) issued “Guidance Notes on Tightening Management of Safety Instrumented Systems for Chemical Industry” (SAWS Order No. 116), which requires relevant organizations, in accordance with applicable laws, regulations and standards as well as these Guidance Notes, to improve their SIS management system and make investments to ensure that the SIS for new installations meets functional safety standards and corrective actions are in place for those that are in-service but non-compliant with such standards.




The chemical SIS referred to in these Guidance Notes include safety interlock system, emergency stop system and detection & protection system for toxic and harmful gases, combustible gases and fire hazards. Being independent of process control systems (such as distributed control system), a SIS is dormant or idle during normal production. Once the production devices or facilities are in a condition that might cause safety accidents, the SIS will take immediate and precise action to safely stop the production or automatically put the process into a scheduled safety state. The SIS should have a high level of reliability (i.e., functional safety) and be provided with appropriate maintenance and management. SIS failure may often lead to adverse safety consequences. For example, recent major chemical (hazardous chemicals) accidents in some developed countries are mostly related to failure or improper setting of SIS. SIS functions are divided into four Safety Integrity Levels (SILs) based on the consequences and risks resulting from SIS failure, with SIL 4 the most dependable and SIL 1 the least. The technical requirements for the design, manufacture, installation, commissioning, operation and maintenance of a SIS loop vary with the SIL. 

The SIS and related safety protection measures employed by Chinese enterprises have problems such as inadequate hazard and risk analysis, improper design and model selection, inappropriate redundant and fault-tolerant structures, absence of well-defined testing and inspection cycles as well as discursive preventive maintenance strategies throughout the entire lifecycle, from design through to installation operation, maintenance and management, making it a top priority to standardize SIS management practices. As increasingly large chemical devices and storage facilities for hazardous chemicals and more automated production processes are used in China, it is very urgent and necessary to strengthen and standardize SIS management.

In order to ensure that safety related systems meet functional safety standards, it is imperative to carry out functional safety certification. Functional safety certification, also called SIL certification, is an assessment, verification and certification process performed by a third party to evaluate and identify the SIL of the safety equipment based on IEC 61508, IEC 61511, IEC 61513, IEC 13849-1, IEC 62061, IEC 61800-5-2 and GB/T 20438, etc. Functional safety certification involves document management assessment on safety equipment development, hardware reliability calculation and assessment, software assessment, environmental test and EMC test, etc.

Given the current situation, Chinese instrument enterprises should take the initiative to carry out functional safety certification on their existing systems and equipment designed for safety-related purposes. For systems and equipment to be developed, these enterprises should follow the functional safety standards early from the demand analysis and conception through to the design, development and production and have the assessment and certification completed. Only in this way can they be in a strong position to adapt to the market. 

Bureau Veritas has maintained comprehensive cooperation with many leaders in functional safety related industries. In the petroleum and petrochemical industry, its partners include Total and Tyco. In the power industry, Bureau Veritas has been providing Alstom, Electricite De France and Areva with consultancy and assessment services related to functional safety. Bureau Veritas is also doing business with companies in the automobile industry, such as Peugeot, Delphi and Valeo. On top of that, Bureau Veritas is a member of the editorial committee of GB/T 20438, the latest national standard for functional safety. Since 2013, Bureau Veritas has been committed to expanding functional safety certification services in China. So far, Bureau Veritas has been contracted to deliver functional safety related certification services as an independent third party to dozens of enterprises including Zhejiang Supcon, Tyco and Neway, covering a wide variety of products such as sensors, safety barriers, actuators, valves and relays. In addition, Bureau Veritas has established business relations with many well-known companies across the country, such as Siemens, ABB, Dräger, SNPAS and COMAC. With three years of experience in functional safety certification, which has raised its service to a higher level, Bureau Veritas is ready to offer a comprehensive package of localized functional safety related services to its Chinese customers.

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