Major hazards in the chemical and nuclear industries over the last two decades have led to regulations being developed which require operators to demonstrate the safety of their installation. In particular, under UK regulations for potentially hazardous process plant, the operators are required to produce a safety portfolio. This document or 'Safety Case' as it has come to be known, has to be submitted to the Health & Safety Executive for approval. The Safety Case provides detailed information on the operations and chemistry of the installation, along with predictive criteria which establishes the likelihood of major disasters occurring.
Conforming to these requirements calls for an in-depth analysis of the regulations. Moreover, gathering the necessary information and managing it in a structured way can prove an arduous task. At Newcastle University's Engineering Design Centre a research project has been investigating these and related issues. Key aspects of this project have included a detailed analysis of the regulatory requirements, and the subsequent development of an object-oriented information model. This model is now being implemented into a computerized electronic data management and exchange system for Safety Case information.
This paper discusses these developments, which are being carried out within the framework of ISO 10303, the emerging international electronic data interchange standard. The benefits of computerization, data life-cycle management, and information sharing for concurrent engineering, such as design for safety, are explained in the context of their contribution to enhancing current loss prevention procedures.