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Preventing incidents in a chemical process facility starts with the careful selection of a site, taking into consideration a multitude of factors ranging from environmental risks to community safety and regulatory compliance. This proactive approach in site selection is a crucial part of an overarching strategy for risk management and safety in chemical processing operations.

Facility Siting Studies (FSS) serve several purposes: they assess the optimal location for constructing a new facility by considering the risk to surrounding communities; determine the most suitable placement for process units and buildings within new plant sites; decide the best location for new processes within an existing site, taking into account the risks to both nearby residents and on-site workers; and evaluate the potential risks faced by individuals working in structures on an existing plant site.

Under OSHA’s Process Safety Management Standard, it’s mandated that Facility Siting is taken into account during a Process Hazard Analysis (PHA). Following the establishment of the PSM standard, various Recognized and Generally Accepted Good Engineering Practices (RAGAGEP) have been developed to fulfill this requirement. These include API RP 752, which focuses on the hazard management related to the placement of permanent process plant buildings; API RP 753, which addresses the hazards linked to the positioning of portable buildings in process plants; and API RP 756, which concentrates on hazard management concerning the location of tents in process plants. Due to their intricate nature, Facility Siting Studies are typically performed independently from a PHA, often by personnel who possess specialized expertise in this area.

OSHA requires consideration of how accidents might affect individuals in structures like control rooms, trailers, offices, and motor control centers. To adhere to OSHA’s regulations, it’s typical to employ a checklist approach for identifying, assessing, and managing the risks linked to facility siting. In-depth Facility Siting Analysis (FSA) studies go further, investigating the resilience of occupied buildings against fires, explosions, and the penetration of toxic substances.

Facility siting has traditionally been interpreted broadly. OSHA’s definition emphasizes the spatial relationship between a process’s hazards and the locations of personnel within the facility, especially in occupied buildings like control rooms. This aspect of facility siting gained prominence with the introduction of the PSM standard. Key elements to consider in a facility siting study are:

  • Identifying scenarios where hazards could significantly impact occupied buildings.
  • Pinpointing at-risk locations of control rooms and other populated buildings.
  • Determining the distance between process hazards and employee locations in occupied buildings.
  • Establishing appropriate spacing for process units and equipment.
  • Assessing the distance between potential flammable release sources and ignition points.
  • Considering domino effects, where an incident in one process area might spread to another.Top of Form

Effective evaluations require a team with the requisite knowledge and access to the resources necessary for thoroughly determining the possible impacts of accident scenarios on staff. The team should be led by or include someone with expertise in evaluation techniques, which may involve:

  • Consulting RAGAGEP for guidelines on safe distances.
  • Conducting specific analyses like explosion overpressure modeling, calculating heat radiation from fires, and modeling the dispersion of toxic releases.
  • Assessing the relative risks of evacuation versus sheltering in place, especially considering the potential infiltration of toxic substances into buildings.
  • Estimating the probability of such events occurring.

Why Perform Facility Siting Review?

Performing a Facility Siting Assessment is crucial for ensuring process safety and safeguarding personnel and assets. This assessment plays a pivotal role in determining the optimal location for industrial facilities, particularly those handling hazardous materials or processes. It involves evaluating factors such as proximity to populated areas, environmental impact, access to emergency services, and potential exposure to natural disasters. By carefully analyzing these elements, a Facility Siting Assessment helps in minimizing risks associated with accidental releases, explosions, and fires, ensuring compliance with safety regulations and standards. Additionally, it aids in optimizing operational efficiency and emergency response preparedness. In essence, such an assessment is fundamental in creating a safe, sustainable, and compliant industrial environment, which is crucial for the long-term viability and community acceptance of the facility.

Why Work with Prime Process Safety Center

  • Expertise in Risk Assessment: Our team has specialized knowledge in assessing risks unique to process industries, ensuring comprehensive facility siting evaluations.
  • Customized Approach: We tailor our facility siting assessments to meet the specific needs of your industry, considering all relevant operational and environmental factors.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Our assessments are designed to ensure your facility meets all applicable safety and environmental regulations, reducing the risk of non-compliance penalties.
  • Strategic Location Selection: We help you identify the most strategic location for your facility, balancing operational efficiency, safety, and environmental impact.
  • Mitigation of Hazardous Incidents: Our assessments focus on minimizing the risks of hazardous incidents, thereby enhancing overall safety and protecting both personnel and assets.
  • Community and Environmental Consideration: We take into account the potential impact on local communities and the environment, aiding in responsible and sustainable facility development.
  • In-depth Hazard Analysis: Our assessments include a thorough analysis of potential hazards, such as fire, explosion, and toxic releases, and their potential impact on the facility.
  • Long-term Viability: We consider future expansion possibilities and changes in industry trends to ensure the long-term viability of your facility’s location.
  • Emergency Response Planning: Our assessment includes evaluating accessibility for emergency response, enhancing your facility’s preparedness for unforeseen events.
  • Experience and Proven Track Record: With our extensive experience and successful track record in facility sitting in process industries, we bring reliability and expertise to your project.


1. What is a Facility Siting Assessment?

It’s a comprehensive evaluation process used to determine the most suitable location for an industrial facility, considering various safety, environmental, and operational factors.

2. Why is Facility Siting Assessment important in process safety?

It’s crucial for ensuring that the facility is located in an area where risks of accidents, such as fires, explosions, or toxic releases, are minimized and that it complies with safety regulations and environmental standards.

3. What factors are considered in a Facility Siting Assessment?

Key factors include proximity to populated areas, environmental impact, accessibility for emergency services, potential exposure to natural disasters, and operational efficiency.

4. How does a Facility Siting Assessment contribute to process safety?

By carefully evaluating potential hazards and risks associated with the facility’s location, it helps prevent accidents, reduces the impact of any potential incidents, and ensures a safer working environment.

5. Is Facility Siting Assessment a regulatory requirement?

In many regions, yes. It’s often a requirement under various safety and environmental regulations to ensure that facilities are safely located.

6. Who should conduct a Facility Siting Assessment?

It should be conducted by professionals with expertise in process safety, environmental science, and regulatory compliance.

7. How often should a Facility Siting Assessment be conducted?

It should be performed during the initial planning stages of a new facility and reassessed if significant operational or environmental changes occur.

8. What is the difference between Facility Siting and Plant Layout?

Facility Siting focuses on the location of the entire facility, while Plant Layout deals with the arrangement of equipment and processes within the facility.

9. Can a Facility Siting Assessment impact operational efficiency?

Yes, a well-conducted assessment can enhance operational efficiency by identifying a location that optimizes logistics, supply chain management, and operational processes.

10. What happens if a Facility Siting Assessment identifies high risk?

If high risks are identified, it may lead to reconsideration of the site, implementation of additional safety measures, or development of comprehensive emergency response plans.