Taking IEC 61508 To Court

risknowlogy 2007-09-18

Zug, Switzerland – 18 September 2007 – Risknowlogy®, a leading provider of services, consulting, training and certification in the field of risk, reliability, and safety announced today that they have been hired as functional safety experts for several independent disputes between clients and customers concerning projects which require compliance with the international functional safety standard IEC 61508.

The IEC 61508 standard deals with safety systems that are based on electrical, electronic and programmable electronic devices. The standard has requirements for safety systems over the full lifecycle of the system. Different stakeholders, like product developers, system integrators, engineering companies and end-users, can be responsible for different tasks during this safety system lifecycle. Typical tasks which need to be managed by one or more stakeholders are: functional safety management, hazard and risk analysis, safety requirement specifications, hardware requirements, reliability analyses, software requirements, user documentation, as well as basic and environmental safety requirements.

Specific details about the disputes cannot be released as they are currently ongoing, but we can say that they are taking place in different countries (in Europe and overseas), and address different aspects of the standard. Three dispute examples are explained here. One dispute is based on a supplier who cannot demonstrate to the client that the project is carried out in compliance with the standard. The client fears that safety is compromised. Another dispute involves a supplier who cannot perform a project in compliance with the standard and who has extra work due to lack of significant information from the client side in order to carry out the safety project. A further dispute involves a client who received a safety device which does not work in compliance with the standard and leads to safety issues and extra work on the client side. The claimed losses vary from EUR 200.000 up to EUR 10 Million. The Expert Opinions of Risknowlogy play a significant role in the legal steps which are currently being undertaken by the parties involved.

“Seven years after its official release, users in different industries finally start to understand the impact of IEC 61508 on their organization.” says Dr. Michel Houtermans, President of Risknowlogy. “The work delivered by companies which need to comply with IEC 61508, is in many cases poor, but luckily more and more companies are beginning to understand the need to comply with the standard as a whole, and are taking responsibility, as these court cases demonstrate.”

Risknowlogy is able to provide these Expert Opinions due to their internationally recognized experts with many years of experience with functional safety. They have performed functional safety projects in a variety of industries for product developers, integrators, end-users, third parties as well as governments. “It is our experience” says Wolfgang Velten-Philipp, certification expert at Risknowlogy, “that product suppliers are in general the most competent when it comes to IEC 61508 and end-users unfortunately the least”.

About Risknowlogy

Risknowlogy is a leading provider of technical risk management solutions including services, consulting, training and certification in the field of risk, reliability, and safety. They are the developer of the Functional Safety Data Sheet® and Spurious Trip Level™ concept. Risknowlogy has offices in Switzerland, Argentina, Germany and The Netherlands. Visit their website at www.risknowlogy.com.