Hydrogen professionals, don’t shy away from open dialogues on safety

The speed at which the industry and awareness of hydrogen are growing today is unprecedented. As of early 2021, over 200 large-scale projects have been announced across the value chain, with a total value exceeding $300bn1, which requires a big step change in the sector. A space that was previously limited to a few key frontrunners, now includes businesses ranging from start-ups and innovative SMEs to large multinationals, and developing a range of applications, such as long-haul trucking, shipping, aviation, steel and chemicals.

As a result, many of us working in the hydrogen industry today come from diverse professions and sectors, with different risk tolerance and levels of safety awareness and expertise. That diversity creates value in many ways, but it also emphasises the importance of fostering a strong safety culture, where all members of staff are aware of the challenges and are proactively working towards the goal of developing the hydrogen industry safely. In the energy and hydrogen business, we know we live with the responsibility to manage risk.

As with all energy, industrial and transport industries, risk assessments, safety studies, and standards are key to developing inherently safe designs. Organisations with a long track record of offering safety training and guidance, such as the Center for Hydrogen Safety and HySafe, provide the industry with a solid basis to guarantee a maximum level of safety. Within the Hydrogen Council, industry players come together in a dedicated working group to conduct mappings of safety gaps to be addressed and to advocate for further standardisation.

However, although standards and guidelines are essential, they do not detract from the necessary requirement for a robust safety culture. It is only through developing the right beliefs, attitudes and behaviours by all individuals involved in the hydrogen industry that we can ensure rigorous safety systems are implemented. Building a collective approach and fostering a safety culture is all the more essential today, with the public eye fixed firmly on the rapidly growing hydrogen sector. Any incident could potentially set back the entire industry. That is why we need to do it right and we need to do it safely.

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