System Safety Engineers, both managers and practitioners, from a range of engineering specialisations and sectors should be seeking to fast-track or refresh their knowledge and update their skills on a regular basis.

System Safety Engineers, both managers and practitioners, from a range of engineering specialisations and sectors should be seeking to fast-track or refresh their knowledge and update their skills on a regular basis.

There is an increasing demand for superior technology and efficiency in modern systems. This has resulted in a substantial escalation in the sophistication and complexity of new designs and an increase in the reliance on modern, software-intensive control systems. These control systems are extremely complex and can include any number of potential safety critical failure modes.

Acknowledging this challenge, international and domestic governing and regulatory bodies are requiring comprehensive and robust demonstrations of how safety has been considered for these systems – from concept to disposal. These standards include, but are not limited to, IEC61508, EN61508, ARP 4754 and 4761, MIL-STD-882 and DEF STAN 00-56.

Many managers are involved in the design, maintenance, operation and/or management of systems or equipment with potential safety implications. This requires an understanding of Safety Engineering and the interface with the design management and support aspects of a project; how to construct Safety Arguments and the activities associated with the Safety Case.

From a project perspective, there can be multiple and differing approaches to analysing and measuring safety and variations when it comes to the acceptability of risk and what may be defined as ALARP. Each of the different risk paradigms (Project Risk Management, Work-Place Safety (WHS) and System Safety) play a role.

This System Safety Engineering process relates to the generic project life cycle; inputs and outputs, quality assurance, safety controls and their verification, as well as the establishment of functional safety requirements through probability budgets and design assurance. The challenge can be choosing the appropriate technique for the relevant stage of the project life cycle.  Hazard identification techniques (FMECA, HAZOPS FHA and the Energy and Toxicity Matrix, for example), assessment (including Fault and Event Tree Analysis), risk reduction, Software Safety Management (including Assurance, SILs), and Human Factors Engineering.

In reality, most systems then undergo changes in use and design, which means that the engineering team needs to maintain evidence within a Safety Case, as well as the Safety Argument. This means managing the overall System Safety Program (SSP), knowing the importance of constraints as a control, bounding the analysis, managing variances in safety criteria, understanding assumptions and constraints, and the composition of the SSP itself.

If you would like to speak to AMOG about our services and courses in System Safety Engineering, please contact us via our website at www.amog.consulting.  Our System Safety Engineers will also be conducting 5-day courses on System Safety Engineering Management (the Master Class) and System Safety Engineering Application, in October and November 2015, in Sydney. You can enrol directly through Engineering Education Australia (EEA) using the course links above, or contact AMOG for more information.