Process Safety – Industry-Wide Discipline

Process Safety – Industry-Wide Discipline

Author: Vera Koester

Shakeel Kadri is the new Executive Director of the Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS) of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). He talks to Vera Koester for ChemViews Magazine about his experiences and visions for improving industrial process safety worldwide.


What is CCPS?

CCPS is a non-profit organization funded by over 185 global corporate members. It is an Industrial Technology Alliance of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). It addresses process safety within the chemical, pharmaceutical, and petroleum industries. It is an alliance of manufacturers, government agencies, consultants, academia, and insurers.

We were founded by our corporate members about 30 years ago. Following a major incident in a pesticides plant in Bhopal, India, in 1984, several CEOs of multinational companies came to AIChE and asked them to start an organization that could focus on improving process safety.


So the initiative came from industry?

Yes, and that is the beauty of this whole organization: All of this is happening by the member companies, driven by the desire of industry to minimize major incidents. So it is not really a case of someone being mandated to do something.

My job is to provide a good platform where we can have a free flow of ideas and where people can provide and make use of that support.


So what is the benefit for a company to be a member?

The premise on which CCPS was formed is to prevent major global incidents. So a member company, first of all, needs to have a desire to participate in this intent. They also need to have an objective to improve their own process safety. As a member of CCPS, they become part of a good networking environment with company experts and/or industry experts who are implementing process safety in their own companies.

I can give my own experience as an example: I was the Director of Global Process Safety and Risk Management for Air Products and Chemicals prior to my current role. I represented the company Air Products at CCPS for almost 13 years. My desire was to improve my company’s process safety performance, to work with industry experts, network, establish benchmarks, and if there was something I didn’t know, I could ask. Also, I could participate in improving best practices, one of the key consultant areas of CCPS. I believe that my engagement with CCPS also enriched my personal development.


In your effort to eliminate major process incidents, do you suggest process safety irrespective of cost or do you establish best practices that offer a maximum of process safety at a reasonable cost?

The approach CCPS has advocated is risk based. The guideline book, Risk Based Process Safety, that CCPS published in 2007, details this approach and many companies have been implementing it.


Who is judging the risk?

The companies themselves. The organization helps the members; we offer lots of guidelines and training to help them make those decisions. Ultimately, the decisions as to how safe is safe are made by the companies based on their internal risk tolerance.

Let me give you an example: Suppose there is a plant that had a major incident. Lots of regulatory people will come there and one of the provisions they will give them is that if they have another incident like that, they will lose their license to run the plant. So the company will be putting in lots more effort and dollars or euros to fix that problem. This is the risk approach. Here the risk is very high if you don’t do anything.


Is CCPS mainly based in the Americas?

No, it is a global organization. CCPS now has roughly 185 members. Roughly 100 of these are from the Americas, and more than 80, or almost 40 % of the membership, are from the rest of the world.


How do you make sure that the gap between industrialized and developing countries is closed?

The best practices are developed to improve process safety across the world, not for national levels. However, different levels of understanding of process safety exist on a national level.

So we have developed regional groups where regions have their own, what we call, technical steering activity. They are basically working around this area to make sure that they have the right level of understanding compared to places like the United States and Europe, where you have lots more developed expertise and understanding.

Having said that, I travel the world quite a bit and I have found that process safety awareness and expertise is good and very similar across the world. People have realized after seeing some of the major incidents that it is only a matter of time before something happens if you don’t do anything. So this is not something very different in China versus in Europe.


With over 100 book publications, you have quite an amazing book program. Who writes these?

The 100-plus books developed by CCPS are based on issues identified by members.

At the end of the annual Global Congress of Process Safety we have the CCPS Technical Steering Committee Meeting. All the member companies send their lead process safety person to this discussion. We ask these members to tell us what the key issues are that they would like to work on together. Some senior members then look at these 100-plus issues and identify common themes and come up with about six to ten project ideas.

For example, someone might come up and say they really have a major issue around process safety culture. If there are many different issues focusing on culture, we might say that there is a need to develop something around process safety culture.

The members vote on which project ideas they would like to see processed. For each project we look for a project leader from the member companies. If someone says that culture is a key issue and they have a real desire to improve it, they might want to lead the project. So again, this is done by the members. Then we ask other members to participate in this effort. A staff member from CCPS facilitates the discussion and does the administrative work, because most of the members do this in addition to their own job. Most of our staff consultants are ex-process safety leaders who have the desire to continue to help CCPS.

So once the project committee is set up, the facilitator sets up the meetings, and when the project continues they develop an outline and then they reach out to several external consultants who might have expertise in this area. They then start developing content based on the outline. At every milestone the committee gets together to make sure that it meets what its members are looking for. Most of these projects take about two years.

At the end we look for a peer reviewer among industry experts. These may not be part of CCPS’s members. Then Wiley publishes the book.

Another very popular publication is Process Safety Beacon. It is released every month, contains one page, and has a circulation of about one million. It delivers process safety information based on past incidents (such as, what has happened, why has this happened, how is this related to your plant, and what can you do?) to people who are working in the plants, such as plant operators. Beacon gets translated into about 30 languages by volunteers. Anyone can register; you don’t have to be a member.


Why do you think education is important?

Training is a major activity done through CCPS. What we have found is that many companies around the world have a real need to improve process safety awareness in young engineers. Coming in from colleges they have very little or no background in process safety. How can process safety be integrated into engineering education?

First of all, if your professors don’t have the knowledge, how can they teach it? So we are beginning by training the professors at our member companies. They invite 25 or so professors to their facility, give them a tour of the facility, show them the hazards, and then we have a two-day workshop with some of the experts of process safety from CCPS including the host company expert.

As we start to roll out this program, I am seeing more and more companies who are coming and saying that they would like to have these professor workshops at their site. There is so much engagement in that whole area. People think it is a noble activity to teach professors who will be teaching our kids in the future. So this is very exciting.

The second part is to make process safety a requirement of the chemical engineering curriculum which many universities already have made a requirement. We have started to develop modules explaining different issues of process safety. Currently, we have ten educational modules available and will expand this to about 35 to 45 to cover a broad range of process safety topics. We are going to be doing it in multiple languages and will then make it available to all students worldwide.

As it will take time to develop all these modules, in the meantime we are teaching students in what we call Boot Camps of Process Safety. From 30 to 35 students get three to five days of concentrated education by some of our ex-member leaders in process safety. We have found that the students are very eager to learn and the course is very popular.

Students who have learned about process safety in school have a better chance of getting involved in process safety when they come out of school. When it comes to process safety, it is not just the technical content, you also need to have passion: passion to improve, passion to save lives, passion to prevent disastrous consequences for the environment. So we are very excited about this program. It is a multimillion dollar effort and is supported by member companies.


What fascinates you most about your job?

I have worked with CCPS for the last 13 years and I feel that the organization has a very good platform: It helped me connect with industry, it helped me connect with industry leaders, and it also helped me to improve myself through getting involved in a lot of activities. It helped me improve my company’s performance and bring good practices to the company. And I was able to take some of my good practices to industry. So when there was the opportunity to take the role of Executive Director, I said, “I’ll do it!” So I was walking my talk. I have always said CCPS is the benchmark organization for process safety.


What are your goals for CCPS?

Ultimately my goal is to grow the organization, improve services for the member companies, and make sure that it will sustain our network. Just growing is not enough; you need to make sure that you improve your service. And ultimately, by doing all these things, we can improve process safety around the world.


Thank you for this interview.

Shakeel Kadri is the new Executive Director of the Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS) of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE)Shakeel H. Kadri earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering at the Dharmsinh Desai Institute of Technology of Gujarat University, India, and his master’s degree in chemical engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL, USA, as well as an MBA at La Salle University, Philadelphia, PA, USA. He was a process safety executive with Air Products & Chemicals, Allentown, PA, USA, before he became Executive Director of the Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS) of AIChE (the American Institute of Chemical Engineers) in February 2015.

Kadri is a Fellow of both CCPS and AIChE and has served on safety committees of the American Chemistry Council, the American Petroleum Institute, the Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Center, the Compressed Gas Association, the European Industrial Gases and Association, and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers Association. He has authored many publications and holds a patent.



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