Data from Sphera’s Process Safety Report 2023 reveals digitalization supports improved risk awareness, people play pivotal role in policy and technology implementation and attention to all three ESG pillars is on the rise

CHICAGO, IL (November 1, 2023) – While there has been growth in corporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) programs and the availability of technologies for assessing risk, measuring performance and improving efficiency, Sphera’s 8th annual Process Safety Report shows there remains a considerable gap between safety intent and achievement.

Sphera®, a leading global provider of ESG performance and risk management software, data and consulting services, surveyed 239 process safety management (PSM) and operational risk management (ORM) professionals from around the world to delve into the relationships between policy and reality, technology and its adoption, as well as ESG, regulation and compliance. Every year since Sphera’s inaugural Safety Survey in 2016, approximately two-thirds of respondents have pointed to gaps between their organizations’ safety goals and reality. While this number is down to 65% in 2023 from 69% in 2022, it is concerning that process safety goals are still routinely not being achieved, even with the availability of technologies that can help overcome inefficiencies and information silos.

Respondents estimate that only two-thirds of safety-critical maintenance tasks are completed in a typical month. The top three challenges to this are limited resources (60%), conflicting priorities (56%) and inadequate planning (45%). As to the top drivers that improve process safety performance, participants point to reducing major accident hazard (MAH) risk exposure (66%), operational excellence (57%) and regulatory compliance (48%).

One hundred percent of respondents feel that technology enables effective PSM and ORM or will enable it in the future, and a majority (83%) said that risk awareness and safety could be improved by digitized, real-time process safety risk indicators. An overwhelming majority (80%) also agree that technology helps reduce vulnerability to hazard events.

PSM and ORM play a vital role in a company’s ESG performance, with 86% of respondents indicating that PSM fits into ESG programs. At least 60% tie PSM to governance and environmental aspects, and 40% relate it to social aspects. Many respondents also think that environmental impact is important from the corporate perspective, and 71% express concerns about environmental impact from incidents.

“Our Process Safety Report shows a continued gap between safety goals and reality. While companies increasingly value technology for reducing vulnerabilities, the rate of adoption and implementation have a way to go,” said Paul Marushka, Sphera’s CEO and president. “Digital tools enable a shift from reactive to proactive PSM, and technology-supported business processes provide transparency and visibility into risk in real-time. Within the context of ESG, PSM and operational risk management (ORM) drive risk awareness, keeping people safe and operations productive. At Sphera, we pride ourselves on helping our customers to operationalize ESG. Imbuing day-to-day operations with real-time metrics increases the visibility and actionability of information, enabling operators to overcome challenges associated with disparate systems and information silos.”

Additional insights: 

The top three factors that participants say negatively impact process safety performance are attributed to people and behaviors in the company. Those are human factors (63%), organizational culture (52%) and staffing issues (38%). Additionally, 23% said senior leadership has a negative effect. This shows that the cultural dimension and leadership from the top are critical for effective process safety performance.

The top four causes for increased risk according to respondents are loss of experience (52%), conflicts between policy and frontline working practices (46%), incomplete, missing or inaccurate standard operating procedures (40%) and not sharing lessons learned (40%). Companies are losing experience and knowledge of how to run and maintain plants. But databases and digital processes can help businesses capture, save and share that knowledge.


About the Process Safety Survey

Sphera surveyed 239 process safety and operational risk management professionals on the current state of PSM and ORM within their organizations for the Process Safety Report 2023. Respondents came from several global industries, such as Manufacturing, Oil and Gas, Energy, Chemicals/Petrochemicals, Construction and Engineering, among others.

About Sphera

Sphera is the leading provider of environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance and risk management software, data and consulting services focusing on Environment, Health, Safety & Sustainability (EHS&S), Operational Risk Management (ORM), Product Stewardship and Supply Chain Risk Management (SCRM). For more than 30 years, we have served over 7,000 customers and a million-plus users in 80 countries to help companies keep their people safe, their products sustainable and their operations productive. Learn more about Sphera at Follow Sphera on LinkedIn.

For media inquiries, please contact:
Denise Jones, Marketing Communications Manager, Sphera,

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