No services without responsibilities

Yngve Malmén, Minna Nissilä

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter or book articleProfessional


    As a consequence of outsourcing, Finnish process-industry companies aiming to invest in new processes, or wanting to modify old ones, usually face the need to rely on external engineering services. It is typical that more than one external service provider is involved in major engineering projects. Although most of the external companies offering engineering services are domestic, some may be located in other countries. The obligations and various roles of the 'external designers' in design and construction work also mean responsibilities in relation to safety-related issues. The importance of process-design safety management during the design procedure, involving several parties and dissemination of safety related information between the engineers and other parties, cannot be overemphasised. Good safety management already at the start of the design process lays the foundations for the safety in the later stages of a process plant's life cycle. Poor design is rarely deliberate, but, as has been seen, mistakes do sometimes happen. In the case of accidents or other technical failures, questions of responsibility often arise. In those cases, involvement of external services also means that responsibilities are divided among all companies and actors taking part in the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of the process plant. The need to emphasise and discuss the safety-related obligations and the various roles of 'external designers' taking part in designing Finnish process plants was a driving factor for a project called 'USVA - roles and liabilities of external designers for the safety of process plants', carried out in 2010-2012. The project was funded by the Finnish Work Environment Fund and led by VTT. Other project partners were Elomatic Oy, EURENCO Vihtavuori Oy, Fortum Power and Heat Oy, Pöyry Finland Oy, Sachtleben Pigments Oy, and SWECO Industry Oy. The USVA project's results have been compiled in a guidebook [1], which can be downloaded from the Internet ( The guidebook begins by explaining in general terms the designers' role related to safety at a process plant. The role of the companies hiring external designers is also covered. The work gives insight into process safety principles - i.e., inherently safer design principles, passive and active safety measures, and operational safety options. Also, key points in Finnish legislation are covered and explained from an external engineering company's and the individual designer's viewpoint. The relevance of some non-technical standards is discussed too.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationHighlights in service research
    Place of PublicationEspoo
    PublisherVTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
    ISBN (Electronic)978-951-38-7969-3
    ISBN (Print)978-951-38-7968-6
    Publication statusPublished - 2013
    MoE publication typeD2 Article in professional manuals or guides or professional information systems or text book material

    Publication series

    SeriesVTT Research Highlights


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