Learn why the alarm management safety layer is flawed and what to do to make sure abnormal situations are detected, managed, and prevented.


The operators job is to keep the process running at optimal capacity. Operators have a direct effect on quality, they prevent unplanned downtime, respond to safety critical events, and can provide valuable feedback that can save companies millions of dollars. They are a direct link to millions of dollars’ worth of equipment. Unfortunately, they are underutilized. They can do more. Most are trying to do their best even though the environment, user interfaces, and management systems are working against them. They have just as much responsibility as a pilot but they don’t get near the support and respect.

We rely on operators to be alert, vigilant, and predictive. To detect, diagnose, and respond when abnormal situations occur. Operator response is critical, that is why we have focused so much attention on alarm management, a perceived safety layer. However, we have not focused on the operators, specifically addressing human factors. The alarm system is not a safety layer, the operator is the safety layer, alarms are only one of the many tools they use to ensure safe and optimal operation.

There are three duties that an operator must successfully accomplish with respect to safely operating a plant. In order to safely handle an abnormal event, regardless of the situation, an operator must accomplish the following:

  1. Detect an abnormal or out of control event
  2. Diagnose the problem encountered
  3. Recover the process from the abnormal event to a safe state in sufficient time so that a dangerous consequence is avoided.

Operators are the pilots of the process. They are a critical safety layer. This presentation will show you how you can make sure this safety layer does not fail.