19 July, 2024

Ten key steps to enhance pressure relief system efficiency

26 October, 2023

Clint Botard, Programme Manager of the Asset Integrity Management Services business at ABS Consulting, highlights ten essential steps to optimise pressure relief system efficiency while maintaining regulatory compliance.


Process Safety Management (PSM) that covers industrial facilities are required to manage risk and regulatory compliance for pressure-relief systems (PRSs) and pressure-relieving devices (PRDs).

PRDs are an important line of defence in your facility and a key barrier preventing overpressure events from developing into catastrophic failures. Errors in the design, installation, or maintenance of a PRS, whether sizing, rationale, installation or others, often result in loss of containment, human injury, equipment damage and catastrophic process safety events.

Below are ten essential steps to optimise pressure relief system efficiency while maintaining regulatory compliance. These steps can be divided into 3 phases: Data Validation, Scenario ID & Analysis, and Inspection and Testing.

Data Validation

The initial equipment validation phase contains the first three key steps. The collective goal of these steps is to evaluate the system boundaries and equipment, also comparing its current performance to its intended performance:

Step 1: Develop a master asset list

A master asset list details all relief devices and relief systems covered by the Mechanical Integrity (MI) programme. MI is among the 14 elements in the PSM standard, OSHA 1910.119. The requirements of the MI programme include management responsibility, equipment selection and the execution of testing and maintenance strategies. Appropriately trained and certified personnel are a vital part of the MI programme and, therefore, a crucial part of this step.

Step 2: Validate the as-built condition

The as-built condition of each relief device listed on the master asset list is validated by performing field walk-downs in the facility to ensure that relief device information is accurate. Typical tasks performed during field walk-downs include photographing the device and ID tags and creating isometric sketches of each device or system.

Step 3: Ensure references for each device

All devices and systems need documented process safety information and references to Recognised and Generally Accepted Good Engineering Practices (RAGAGEPs).

Scenario ID and analysis

This phase involves reviewing the PRD design and anticipated operating conditions. An experienced engineering team will review and document credible and non-credible overpressure scenarios to determine the device’s ability to perform as intended.

Step 4: Review credible overpressure scenarios

After ensuring that all equipment has been documented and validated, the engineering team will begin reviewing the different scenarios to determine the governing scenario. Ultimately, the sizing and relief load calculations will be based on this information.

Step 5: Perform sizing and relief load calculations

Once the governing scenario has been determined, each device or system will need to be analysed based on the governing overpressure scenario. If the device is projected to have issues functioning like it should in that circumstance, the existing calculations will need to be updated based on that new information. Process stream properties will be reviewed and defined during this step.




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