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Experience has shown that, unless certain work is done in advance, problems are likely to occur when the IEC 61508 standard is applied in a real project context. This article outlines some of the problems that can occur and discusses what you need to do to avoid having difficulties. It outlines the essential steps needed to ensure delivery of a cost-effective implementation and a high level of risk assurance. The essential steps covered include: (a) development of risk awareness and training of management and technical staff in the fundamentals of the risk-based approach; (b) adjustment of your policy and strategy on risk so as to integrate the risk-based approach of IEC 61508 into an overall risk management framework (a critical activity is to decide on the methods and parameter descriptions that will be used to determine the necessary risk reductions for your applications so that they are in alignment with your corporate risk acceptance criteria); (c) training of project and operational staff on the basic requirements of IEC 61508; and (d) development of project procedures so that they are consistent with and encapsulate the requirements of IEC 61508. Many of the essential requirements of IEC 61508 overlap with normal quality requirements and this can easily lead to needless duplication of work.