ARGoSS investigates opportunities for optimizing major accident precautions in chemical industrial clusters. For example the ARGoSS researchers suggest to develop a multi-plant safety and security culture by elaborating three separate building blocks (procedural, human and technological) and by both integrating and optimizing them using the Deming loop (initially developed in quality management). To optimize all kind of procedures concerning multiple-plant safety and security issues, the researchers recommend to design a Multi-Plant Safety and Security Management System . To facilitate risk experts to take joint decisions concerning multi-plant safety and security issues, several Multi-Plant Management Frameworks are proposed. Furthermore, a Multi-Plant Management Decision Support Systemwas developed by the researchers offering prevention planning guidance in taking adequate precaution measures to overcome complex domino effect risks in complex industrial areas, based on relatively simple input information. The software can be used by cross-company safety management as well as governmental services. Easy-to-use practical information for actually elaborating a safety and security culture on an aggregated multi-plant level is provided in Reniers' publication (2010) "Multi-Plant Safety and Security Management in the Chemical and Process Industries" (Wiley-VCH, ISBN 978-3-527-32551-1). Website: http://www.wiley-vch.de/publish/en/books/ISBN978-3-527-32551-1
Research results indicate that by protecting (i.e., making more safe and more secure) a very limited number of chemical installations within parts of a chemical cluster, the entire cluster is possibly much more efficiently protected against escalation of (internal and external) domino effects. This observation indicates the large advantages of shaping a multi-plant safety and security culture.
Cost-benefit analyses of safety measures are carried out. The researchers propose a management-supporting model which evaluates the cost-effectiveness of investments in preventive measures, benefits being defined as non-occurring accidents. This innovative model differentiates between serious accidents and less serious accidents thus providing an authentic image of prevention-related costs and benefits within chemical companies. In classic cost-benefit analyses, which do not make such differentiations, only a rudimentary image of potential profitability resulting from investments in safety is obtained.
It has been proven that the large majority (90%) of incidents and accidents (of any kind) is caused by humans (operators, line management, management, etc.) in some way. Therefore, operational staffing levels in chemical plants are studied in relation to Safety, Health, Environment and Security company policies. A Code of Good Practice for managing and controlling operational staffing levels has been developed by Reniers and Soudan, by order of Essenscia Flanders, the sector federation for the chemical industry in Flanders.
The Code of Good Practice can be found (in Dutch) on Essenscia's website: http://www.essenscia.be/NL/essenscia/Publicaties/Gezondheid,+Veiligheid,+Milieu/page.aspx/1340
Management Of Change procedures and possible optimization opportunities in relation to project management are being investigated. Currently, a generic model is being elaborated by ARGoSS to guide companies how to optimize taking safety and security topics into account in projects to be carried out by either company personnel or by contractors.
The optimization of evacuation procedures in case of major fire accidents in chemical industrial areas is a highly interesting research topic which is being investigated using real-options theory. A discrete-time approximation is presented to determine the severity of a major accident threat triggering immediate evacuation and its expected resulting costs. By implementing the mathematical model proposed by the ARGoSS researchers, precautionary evacuation decision problems can be tackled in a realistic way, i.e., allowing for major accident threats with limited duration.
The optimization of domino effects prevention in a chemical cluster is studied using game-theory as a mathematical tool. Given that chemical companies are interlinked by domino effect links, there is some likelihood that even if certain companies fully invest in domino effects prevention measures, they can nonetheless experience an external domino effect caused by an accident which occurred in another chemical enterprise of the cluster. We employ a game-theoretic approach to interpret and model behaviour of chemical plants within chemical clusters while negotiating and deciding on domino effects prevention investments.
The researchers see it as their moral obligation to critically evaluate the efficiency and the effectiveness of Governmental safety, health and well-being regulations. Recommendations are formulated at regular time intervals in academic and professional Journals, editorials, newspapers, interviews, etc. ARGoSS researchers are actively involved in the process of new risk legislation development, on a regional authority as well as on a federal authority level in Belgium.
In collaboration with other universities and with the Flemish Government, a risk analysis technique (TRANS) has been developed by ARGoSS for hazmat transports via the different modes: road, railway, inland waterway, and pipeline. ARGoSS reseachers are currently studying several aspects of the emerging field of multi-modal hazmat transportation optimization.