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Safety Lifecycle

Last updated: March 3, 2019

What Does Safety Lifecycle Mean?

A safety lifecycle is an engineering process that is designed to ensure that a safety system used in an industrial plant is able to work continuously and effectively throughout the entirety of its lifespan.

Safety lifecycles are used to ensure the successful operation of functional safety systems that rely on active risk reduction measures such as sensors, alarms, shutoff valves, and the various instruments that are used to control them.

Safeopedia Explains Safety Lifecycle

The safety lifecycle is a formalized concept that is defined and described by international standards set by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). The principles of this standard describe how functional safety should be managed through all phases of the design and implementation of a safety system. The standardization of the safety lifecycle concept provides a benchmark for major industries to demonstrate that their workplace meets an acceptable level of occupational safety.

The safety lifecycle is described as providing a safer plant, decreased engineering and operational costs, and greater productivity. The five broad stages of the lifecycle include initial design and engineering, detailed design and build, installation and facility start-up, maintenance of safety systems during operation, and the modification and updating of those systems as required.

This system takes the form of a cycle because after the modification stage, the cycle will begin anew in order to plan for and implement whatever new functional safety processes and material components will be required for the safety system to remain continually up to date. If the plant is being shut down, the modification and updating phase is to be replaced by the decommissioning stage.

The safety cycle should be able to be categorized into one of three distinct phases: the analysis and design of the functional safety system, the realization and testing of the system, and the operation of the system itself.

The two principal standards used to define the safety lifecycle are IEC 61508, which describes an overall safety lifecycle model for the functional safety of programmable safety related systems, and IEC 61511, which uses the former standard as its basis to define the safety lifecycle for the process industry. Additional standards derived from IEC 61508 include IEC 62061 (machinery) and IEC 61513 (nuclear power plants).


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