Avoiding the high risk of alarm floods

Too often an alarm is an afterthought – its existence driven by the realisation that somewhere in a process there is something that can go horribly wrong. As more points of possible failure come to light extra alarms are added. The system grows ‘like Topsy’. Soon the point is reached where the volume of alarms that may be generated in adverse conditions is itself a cause of failures – due to control room operator overload, known to be a frequent factor in industrial disasters.

If you want to stay out of this high risk area of the industrial landscape you need guidance across many topics: prioritisation, acceptable operator load, abnormal operation, speed of response, automation, alarm suppression, human factors, configuration and evolution to name just a few.

EEMUA Publication 191, “Alarm systems: a guide to design, management and procurement“, is the globally accepted industry view of good practice, as it contains comprehensive guidance on designing, managing and procuring an effective alarm system. Two of the international standards for the management of alarm systems for the process industries, ISA 18.2 and IEC 62682, are aligned with EEMUA 191. And the recently revised guidelines for the Norwegian Petroleum Health and Safety Regulations make direct reference to the publication, in regard to the design and performance requirement of alarm systems.

The most recent edition (Ed 3), which is endorsed by the British Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as ‘sensible, proportionate, reasonable and balanced advice’, also incorporates guidance on implementing the alarm management philosophy in practice; applications in geographically distributed processes; and performance metrics and KPIs.

Since it was first published, EEMUA 191 has sold thousands of copies worldwide and provided the basis for training courses and seminars such as the The Alarm Systems Management course which this year is being held in Stockport on 8th May and 22nd November and EEMUA’s annual Alarms Systems and Controls seminar which will be held in Manchester on 12th July.

To get a flavour of the content why not download the EEMUA “checklist for an alarm management philosophy document”; the document being a high level site or business group standard, the intention of which should be to provide the framework for a consistent approach to the specification, design and management of all site alarms irrespective of their origin of design.

Alternatively the full publication is available to purchase in either print or digital format from our online shop. Get your copy today!


EEMUA, the Engineering Equipment and Materials Users Association, is an international non-profit membership organisation that aims to improve the safety, environmental and operating performance of industrial facilities in the most cost-effective way, developing and promoting leadership in industrial asset management. Member companies manage process plants, refineries, power stations and utilities, offshore platforms, storage terminals and other industrial facilities around the world (engineering assets worth billions of Euros). EEMUA members pursue their aims by sharing engineering experiences and expertise, and by the promotion of their distinct interests as the users of engineering products.


Email: ask@eemua.org
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7488 0801
Web: www.eemua.org

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