As technology develops, the factors influencing accident situations in industry also change. One area of substantial technological development has been the way in which the massive increase in computational power has allowed sweeping changes in the control of safety-related systems applied to plant and equipment. The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) needs to stay abreast of these changes and of their influence on accident situations in order to provide industry with best advice on how to achieve safe working environments. As part of this process, HSE has initiated a programme of work that will eventually provide: guidance for those responsible on how to learn from their own incident data; a means for HSE to ensure that it has the best information attainable on incidents involving electrical/electronic/programmable electronic (E/E/PE) safety-related systems.
The Electrical and Control Systems Unit within HSE's Technology Division strongly contributed to the international standard IEC 61508 "Functional safety of electrical/ electronic/programmable electronic safety-related systems". This sets out specific requirements for systems involving computer control, within a high level framework that defines the safety lifecycle and safety management activities that should be followed. One of these requirements is the need to learn from experience. Subclause 6.2.1 of IEC 61508-1 states that responsible organisations or individuals should consider specifying, implementing and monitoring the progress of:
There are official HSE publications available from the following sources: