16 April 2013

Industry leaders warned of licence loss risk

Hazards Asia Pacific 2013

Senior managers in the South-East Asia chemical industries must take responsibility for health, safety and environmental (HSE) performance standards or risk losing their licence to operate, according to the Chair of the Chemical Industries Council of Malaysia (CICM).

Speaking at the 2nd Hazards Asia Pacific symposium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia today, Dr Abd Hapiz Abdullah told delegates that the industry is in the midst of enormous growth, and process safety standards have never been more important: “Now more than ever, there is stronger emphasis on leaders in the chemical industry who are committed to high standards of responsibility for process safety governance.

“What’s more, with near instant communications, the smallest incident in a chemical plant, any accident in transporting chemicals, and every permit application for a new installation attracts colossal media attention. This in turn triggers negative public reaction which can lead to public outrage.

“The pressure is on for the chemical industry to take action by adopting a set of high standards which accommodate the views of the public and other stakeholders.  We cannot and must not leave anything to chance.

“The consequence of all this is simple. If the chemical industry wants to keep its licence to operate, it must improve its HSE performance.”

The event, jointly organised, by the CICM and IChemE, has attracted delegates from throughout South-East Asia. Headline speakers include PETRONAS chief operating officer and executive vice president for downstream operations Datuk Wan Zulkiflee bin Wan Ariffin, IChemE deputy president and Health & Safety Executive UK, Judith Hackitt, vice-president of Germany’s process safety BASF group, Hans Volkmar Schwarz, former US Chemical Safety Board member, John Bresland and Director General of China’s Department of Hazardous Chemicals and Work Safety Supervision, Mr Wang Haoshui.

IChemE Malaysia Chair BP Chow used his opening remarks to emphasise the importance of lifelong learning for chemical and process engineers: “Students that graduate from an IChemE accredited degree programme will be expected to demonstrate a thorough understanding of process safety.

“But learning must not stop in the classroom or laboratory – it’s a never-ending process. Over the last twelve months, several serious incidents, some sadly with fatalities, have received widespread coverage in the media. Different parts of the supply chain have suffered with explosions and fires offshore, in gas processing facilities, at jetties and distribution hubs.

“It is a sobering fact that there is much work to be done before we can properly claim the process safety excellence label,” added Chow.

The event concludes on Thursday.

My IChemE

IChemE is a registered charity in England & Wales (214379), and a charity registered in Scotland (SC 039661).