Fernando Flores
Director General
Expert Contributor

Industrial Safety Key to Accident Prevention

By Juan Fernando Flores Ruiz | Wed, 11/11/2020 - 13:53

In reference to what happened when a gas pipeline accidentally blew up in the municipality of China in Nuevo Leon on November 2nd. The state authorities were informed about the incident through social networks, as well as, the digital magazines did. First of all, stated that there were no fatalities and that they would later report the factors that caused it. 

The reaction of the authorities of the three levels of government was to send personnel to oversee what had happened, since an explosion of this magnitude triggered speculation at first sight, because of the possible damage it might cause.

That said, it is appropriate to regulate all energy projects and, in general, those involving an industrial process where there is a potential environmental , social or safety risk involved. There are several regulations in Mexico which are responsible for these problems. For example, safety regulations are in charge of promulgating and disseminating with adequate anticipation the steps to be taken to avoid preventable damages derived from the execution of a job.

In the Ministry of Labor there are about 40 Mexican standards for safety and health in the workplace, each in different topics such as safety, health, organization and specific issues by activity. Going through many international precedents where laws were enacted for social, environmental and labor protection. In the case of Mexico, the Constitution, the Federal Labor Law, the IMSS Law, the General Regulations for Safety and Hygiene in the Workplace, and in the specific case of the energy sector we have the SASISOPA. The SASISOPA is the integral set of interrelated and documented elements whose purpose is the prevention, control and improvement of the performance of an installation or set of them, in terms of Industrial Safety, Operational Safety and Environmental Protection.

It has 18 elements for the fulfillment of its objective in the projects, which are: security policy; evaluation of the physical integrity; identification of risks; identification and incorporation of the best practices; establishment of objectives, goals and indicators to evaluate the performance in security; assignment of functions; general plan of training; control of activities; control mechanism; dispositions for the contractors, guidelines and procedures for the prevention of accidents; procedures for the execution of internal and external audits; legal and normative aspects; revision of results and by last periodic report of the performance in security matters.

Strictly speaking, we have regulations, very clear and strong rules to carry out a good supervision of the security systems in the projects that can have an impact either in the environmental, social, security, health and work areas.

By coordinating the efforts of the authorities at the three levels of government, it will be possible to carry out the review of each of these projects identified with possible risks.

From the planning of a project it is necessary to count and to stick to the norms for its implementation. In the case of the energy projects, it begins with a preliminary project that is regulated, with an executive project, which already comply with the Safety Standards which must be followed for its construction, going through environmental, social and risk studies. These studies show the possible effects in case of accidents, but also how to act before them in time and form. Something that these studies and programs, including SASISOPA, show us is what elements we must have so that in case of an accident we can react, such as specific fire fighting systems for each product that is handled in the different industrial processes, what type of containment we must have for the type of accident that may occur.

In Mexico there are projects that were carried out a long time ago and many that are being carried out with the opening of the Energy Reform. Therefore, it is important to have the updated Risk Atlas in order to count the information up to date and to contain possible disasters in this sense. Also to reduce risks and comply with the legal framework, protection of workers and society, reduction of efforts and duplication in safety management, determine the responsibilities to follow and very important that each project with the company that is developing has that continuity in business and competitiveness to remain active in the sector with zero accidents.

It is stipulated that every two years an external audit of the implementation of the SASISOPA must be performed. This does not exempt the project from a security review and these audits by authorized third parties can be done with shorter periods of time and all so that we can be sure that we are doing things right and preventing possible accidents.

It is not about regulating the projects to obtain income or information for each entity involved in the sector, we have in Mexico good practices of industrial safety, let's align the subject to give certainty to the regulated to continue with its business. But also to be responsible in the prevention of accidents that result in economic losses and in many cases in human losses.

Prevention saves us in every way

Photo by:   Fernando Flores