Last Updated S012019


Unit Code MSR 506
Unit Duration 1 Term (online) or 1 Semester (on-campus)

Graduate Diploma of Engineering (Safety, Risk and Reliability)

Duration: 1 year

Master of Engineering (Safety, Risk and Reliability)

Duration: 2 years   

Year Level One
Unit Creator / Reviewer Raj Sreenevasan
Core/Elective: Core
Pre/Co-requisites MSR505
Credit Points


Grad Dip total course credit points = 24

(3 credits x 8 (units))

Masters total course credit points = 48

(12 credits (Thesis) + 3 credits x 12 (units))

Mode of Delivery Online or on-campus. Combination of modes: Online synchronous lectures; asynchronous discussion groups, videos, remote and cloud-based labs (simulations); web and video conferencing tutorials. High emphasis on personal and group self-study.  
Unit Workload

Total student workload including “contact hours” = 10 hours per week:

Lecture – 1 hour

Tutorial Lecture - 1 hour

Practical / Lab - 1 hour (if applicable)

Personal Study recommended - 7 hours

Unit Description and General Aims

Chemical industries’ focus on safety has evolved over time starting with personal safety (1970s), then process safety (1990s), followed by human factors (2000s) and currently focused on safety culture (2010s). In parallel, other industries’ focus has evolved from personal safety to high reliability organizations (HRO). However more complex processes require more complex safety technology. HH Fawcett said ‘To know is to survive and to ignore fundamentals is to court disaster.’ Until recent times (start of the 21st century), safety emphasis was on worker safety. In recent times safety (or process safety) has been replaced by emphasis on loss prevention. In Chemical Process Safety, the terms safety, hazard and risk are defined as:

  • Safety or loss prevention – the prevention of accidents through the use of appropriate technologies to identify the hazards of a process (chemical) plant and eliminate them before an accident occurs
  • Hazard – a chemical or physical condition that has the potential to cause damage to people, property or the environment
  • Risk – a measure of human injury, environmental damage, or economic loss in terms of both the incident likelihood and the magnitude of the loss or injury

As safety is equal in importance to production, the students can expect to learn many highly technical, complex theories and practices to improve process safety and interactive system safety. Students with non-Chemical Engineering background will learn the basic process chemistry principles and root causes of process plant accidents.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this Unit, students are expected to be able to:

1. Understand the roles of today’s employees in process safety, health and environment

2. Understand and appreciate the critical differences between personal safety (Occupational Health and Safety) and process safety (loss prevention)

3. Describe how the process employee’s role has changed and what has caused the role to change from what they were 30 years ago

4. Explain why all risk cannot be removed from process industries and interacting complex systems

5. Apply appropriate technological tools to provide information for making safety decisions with respect to plant design and operation

6. Demonstrate ability to manage complex relationships between humans and automation in order to operate process plants safely

7. Explain the concept of “accepting residual risk” or “finding the amount of residual risk is acceptable ”

Student assessment

Assessment Type

(e.g. Assignment - 2000 word essay (specify topic) Examination (specify length and format))

When assessed

(eg Week 5)

Weighting (% of total unit marks) Learning Outcomes Assessed

Assessment 1

Type: Quiz

Word length: n/a

Topic: Fundamental concepts of Toxic releases, Fires and Explosions.

Week 6 20% 1, 2, 3

Assessment 2 - mid-semester test

Report (Midterm Project)

[This will include a progress report; literature review, hypothesis, and methodology / conclusions]

Word length: 2000

Topic Example: Knowledge on Process Hazard identification and Safety design concepts.

Week 9 25% 3, 4, 5

Assessment 3

Type: Report (Final Project)

[If a continuation of the midterm, this should complete the report by adding sections on: methodology, implementation / evaluation, verification / validation, conclusion / challenges and recommendations / future work. If this is a new report, all headings from the midterm and the final reports must be included.]

Word length: 3000

Example Topic: Process Hazard Identification and / or Safety Procedures and / or Designs in Major International Process Safety Management Regulations.

Week 12 35% 5, 6, 7

Practical Participation

Continuous 15% 5

Class Participation

Continuous 5% 1-7


Prescribed and Recommended readings

Required textbook(s)

D. Crow and J.F. Louvar, Chemical Process Safety – Fundamentals with applications, 3rd Ed, Prentice Hall, 2011


Reference Materials

  • M. Speegle, Safety, Health, and Environmental Concepts for the Process Industry, 2nd Ed, CENGAGE, 2013
  • N. G. Leveson, System Safety Engineering: Back to the Future, MIT, 1999
  • D. Crow and J.F. Louvar, Guidelines for Investigating Chemical Process Incidents, 2nd edition, CCPS, 2001
  • E. De Rademaeker, et al., A review of the past present and future of the European loss prevention and safety promotion in the process industries, Journal of Process Safety and Environmental Protection, Volume 92, Issue 4, Pages 280-291, 2014
  • Guide for Major Hazard Facilities – Safety Management System, Safe Work Australia
  • IDC / EIT notes and Reference texts as advised.  Other material advised during the lectures.

Unit Content

One topic is delivered per contact week, with the exception of part-time 24-week units, where one topic is delivered every two weeks.


Topic 1

Introduction to Process Safety

  1. Review difference between Occupational Safety and Process Safety
  2. Hazard recognition – Toxic, Fire & Explosion hazards
  3. Process hazards – Pressure, Temperature, Steam, Electricity, Noise & Vibration, Process Sampling
  4. Hazard Communication
  5. Process Safety Management – Principles and regulations
  6. Permit to work (PTW) systems
  7. Hazardous waste operations
  8. Hurricanes / Cyclones, Plant security
  9. Accident and Loss Statistics
  10. Spillage / environmental release

Topic 2

Toxicology, Toxic Release and Dispersion Models

  1. How toxicant enter biological organisms
  2. Effects of toxicants on biological organisms
  3. Threshold Limit Value
  4. Parameters affecting dispersion
  5. Neutrally Buoyant Dispersion Models
  6. Dense Gas Dispersion
  7. Dense Gas Transition to Neutrally Buoyant Gas
  8. Release mitigation
  9. Case studies: the stacks at either Mt Isa Queensland or Port Pirie South Australia


Topic 3

Industrial Hygiene and Source Models

  1. Government regulations
  2. Industrial Hygiene: Identification and evaluation
  3. Industrial Hygiene: Control
  4. Introduction to Source Models
  5. Flow of Liquid through a Hole and Hole in a Tank
  6. Flow of Liquids and Gases through Pipes
  7. Flow of Gases or Vapours through Holes
  8. Flashing Liquids, and flow of flashing liquids through holes
  9. Liquid Pool Evaporation or Boiling
  10. Realistic and Worst-Case releases


Topic 4

Fires and Explosions

  1. The Fire Triangle, Distinction between Fires and Explosions
  2. The solids fire pentagon (pertinent for dust fires and explosions)
  3. Flammability Characteristics of Liquids and Vapours
  4. Limiting Oxygen Concentration and Inerting
  5. Ignition Energy and Ignition Sources
  6. Auto-Ignition and Auto-Oxidation
  7. Sprays and Mists
  8. Explosions – Detonation vs. Deflagration, Confined Explosions, Blast Damage, Vapour Cloud Explosions (VCE), Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapour Explosions (BLEVE)
  9. Energy of Chemical Explosions and Mechanical Explosions


Topic 5

Concepts to Prevent or Mitigate Fires and Explosions

  1. Inerting
  2. Static Electricity and Controlling Static Electricity
  3. Ventilation and Sprinkler Systems
  4. Explosion-Proof Equipment, Instruments and Miscellaneous Concepts for Preventing Fires and Explosions
  5. Shut down valves (fire save v bubble tight)
  6. Different strategies for fighting different types of fires ?


Topic 6

Chemical Reactivity

  1. Background
  2. Commitment, Awareness and Identification of Reactive Chemical Hazards
  3. Characterization of Reactive Chemical Hazards
  4. Controlling Reactive Chemical Hazards


Topic 7

Introduction to Reliefs and Relief Sizing

  1. Relief Concepts and Relief Locations
  2. Relief Types and Characteristics
  3. Relief Scenarios
  4. Relief Systems
  5. Special issues for vacuum relief, and combination over/under pressure relief

Topic 8

Relief Sizing

  1. Conventional Spring-Operated Reliefs in Liquid Service
  2. Conventional Spring-Operated Reliefs in Vapour Service
  3. Rupture Disc Reliefs in Liquid Service
  4. Rupture Disc Reliefs in Vapour Service
  5. Two-Phase Flow during Runaway Reaction Relief
  6. Deflagration Venting for Dust and Vapour Explosions
  7. Venting for Fires External to process Vessels
  8. Reliefs for Thermal Expansion of Process Fluids
  9. HIPPS
  10. Complexity of combination liquid-vapour service
  11. Complexity of slurry service


Topic 9

Process Hazard Identification

  1. Checklists
  2. Hazards Surveys
  3. Safety Reviews
  4. HAZOPs and Other methods
  5. SFS and other process safety information methods

Topic 10

Safety Procedures and Designs

  1. Process Safety Hierarchy
  2. Managing Safety – Documentation, Communication, Delegation
  3. Operating Procedures
  4. Permit Procedures – Hot Work, Lock and Tag, Vessel Entry, Confines Space Entry
  5. Safety Reviews
  6. Designs for Process Safety
  7. Miscellaneous Designs for Fires and Explosions
  8. Designs for Runaway Reactions
  9. Designs for Handling Dusts


Topic 11

Major Hazards and International Process Safety Management Regulations

  1. Canadian Energy & Environmental Regulations
  2. US OSHA PSM Regulation
  3. US EPA / RMP Regulations
  4. US BSEE / US Coast Guard
  5. US DOT / Transport Canada
  6. European Union – Seveso I, II, and III, REACH
  8. Norway / North Sea (Safety Case)
  9. Australia / New Zealand (Major Hazard Facilities)
  10. Australia NOPSEMA (Safety Case)


Topic 12

Project and Unit Review

In the final week students will have an opportunity to review the contents covered so far. Opportunity will be provided for a review of student work and to clarify any outstanding issues. Instructors/facilitators may choose to cover a specialized topic if applicable to that cohort.

Project – due at end of term

Software/Hardware Used


  • Software: N/A

  • Version: N/A

  • Instructions:  N/A

  • Additional resources or files: N/A


  • N/A