Incidents can occur at companies that work with chemical substances because their plant systems are ageing (this is also more specifically known under the lengthier term 'ageing of the process industry'). Since 2015, companies subject to the Major Accidents (Risks) Decree - also known as 'BRZO companies (Besluit Risico's Zware Ongevallen) - have been obliged to get a clear understanding of the safety risks associated with ageing and corrosion in their plants and to control those risks. From 2017 onwards, BRZO inspection services have been paying attention to the ageing of installed systems.
As preparation for the inspection, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) has sent out a questionnaire to obtain a picture of how much attention sectors that are subject to the BRZO pay to ageing. Of the 17 sector organisations that were approached, 9 responded with details.
The survey has shown firstly that not all sectors include ageing explicitly in their risk management yet. At the end of 2016, many companies were still in the early stages of including it in the process. The majority of sectoral organisations do discuss ageing internally. Secondly, companies appear to use various definitions of ageing. In the narrower definitions, ageing is purely about degradation of materials. The broader variants cover not only degradation of materials such as rusting or wear and tear, but also ageing of the technology, procedures and knowledge deployed. Half the sectoral organisations use the term in the broader sense.
Various initiatives have now been taken to get companies and the authorities to focus more on ageing.