What is Functional Safety?

Functional safety is about the use of automated safety systems to protect persons, the environment or assets from harm or damage. In general, the term functional safety is used for a safety system in which the protection depends on the functioning of an automatic system.

A safety system comprised of electrical and/or electronic elements has for many years been used to perform safety functions. Such system is also called a safety instrumented system (SIS).

Functional safety is targeted a group of owners and operators of plants and machinery, as well as the organizations that design and supply safety systems and the components that go into them.

In order to ensure uniformity and an adequate level of performance, international standards have been developed as guidelines for the design, operation and maintenance of safety instrumented systems. The generic safety standard IEC 61508 – Functional safety of electrical/electronic/programmable electronic safety-related systems was first issued in 2000.

Later a number of standards for different industry sectors have been developed. In 2003 the IEC 61511 – Safety instrumented systems for the process industry sector was issued and in 2005 IEC 62061 Safety of machinery followed. Other sectors such as the nuclear sector have in a similar way developed a specific standard; however Global Functional Safety ApS works primarily with the three standards mentioned above.