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The purpose of this document is to provide owners/users with practices for developing, implementing, sustaining, and enhancing an investigation program for pressure equipment integrity (PEI) incidents. This recommended practice (RP) describes characteristics of how an effective investigation could be structured so organizations can learn from PEI incidents. This RP is not intended to define or supplement criteria for compliance with regulatory requirements for which companies already have defined investigation processes in place. Rather, API 585 provides a specific focus on investigating PEI failures that are precursors to potential incidents that could have significant impact on safety, health, and environment.

Significant mechanical integrity incidents are rarely the result of one isolated issue; there are almost always less severe precursors to a major failure. These precursors are frequently called near misses when they are found. Additionally, this document highlights the value in recognizing these precursor occurrences and promotes investigating them to determine the immediate, contributing, and root causes. If these precursor occurrences are uncovered, investigated, and the contributing and root causes are resolved, then major catastrophic failures of pressure equipment could be minimized or prevented.

The investigation principles and concepts that are presented in this RP are specifically targeted for application to process pressure equipment in the refining and petrochemical industry but could be applied to other equipment at the discretion of the owner/user.