Process safety management and Seveso legislation
The European chemical industry has a longstanding commitment to improving the safety of its plants and processes for people and the environment. The industry adheres to EU legislation on process safety and the prevention industrial accidents – including the various versions of the Seveso Directive – and develops voluntary initiatives to further improve its performance.
Driving continuous improvement in process safety
Implementing a safety culture focused on continuous improvement in all industrial sites requires constant attention. The goal for companies is zero incidents.
The European chemical industry supports and drives voluntary initiatives to help companies identify, assess and control the potential risks resulting from their operations. Improving health, safety and environmental performance is also a key objective of the global chemical industry’s Responsible Care initiative.
In cooperation with the European Process Safety Centre (EPSC), Cefic contributes to developing performance indicators and management models for process safety, giving guidance on their application and sharing best practice.
In 2011, Cefic published Guidance on Process Safety Performance Indicators to facilitate the development of broadly applicable process safety metrics. Performance indicators were also in focus at an international conference organised by Cefic and EPSC in early 2012.
Cefic also contributes to the OECD’s work on process safety, such as the development of OECD guidance on corporate governance for process safety (PDF). Aimed at senior leaders in high-hazard industries, this guidance was published in June 2012. At the international level, Cefic is also involved in a Task Force of the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA), which aims to establish common global criteria for Process Safety Performance Indicators and Process Safety Management practices.
The focus on safety has to be maintained throughout the entire value chain. Among other initiatives, the chemical industry promotes and implements best practices for the safe transport of chemical products.
Seveso legislation – preventing major industrial accidents
The EU’s Seveso legislation, in its various steps (Seveso I Directive 82/501/EEC in 1982, Seveso II Directive 96/82/EC in 1996, modified in 2003 as Directive 2003/105/EC, and Seveso III in July 2012, as Directive 2012/18/EU), focuses on the prevention and control of major industrial accidents involving dangerous substances.
The Directive applies to some ten thousand establishments where dangerous substances are present in quantities exceeding the thresholds defined in the directive. The chemical industry accounts for about 40 percent of the current Seveso sites.
Over the years, Seveso has also contributed to the dissemination of best practices in process safety management, many of which were originally developed by the chemical industry, for example in the area of emergency response.
Cefic sees Seveso as a well-established and effective “special” regulatory framework for industrial activities that deserve specific attention and dedicated resources, while ordinary legislation adequately covers industrial activities in general.
The last revision of Seveso Directive was driven by the objective to align its scope to the new EU regulation on the classification, labelling and packaging of chemicals (CLP), while keeping the scope as close as possible to the current Directive. The Seveso III Directive is expected to enter into force only by mid-2015, due to the still ongoing development of the new classification system, and the uncertainties on the actual final outcome.
Cefic is concerned that Seveso’s scope may be unintentionally widened, as a result of an expected increase in “dangerous categories” in the new classification. This could dilute needed attention to the original target of the special legislation, i.e. managing the risks of major industrial accidents.