About Mike Schmidt

With a career in the CPI that began in 1977 with Union Carbide, Mike was profoundly impacted by the 1984 tragedy in Bhopal and has been working on process safety ever since.

Are Boilers PSM-Covered? Maybe, Maybe Not

“It’s very hard for all of us, when we’ve committed ourselves to a particular interpretation, to change our minds.”  — Donald Johanson We were recently asked if a steam boiler was a PSM-covered process. The answer seemed obvious. No, steam boilers, themselves, are not covered under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Process Safety Management [...]

By |2022-05-19T15:16:51+00:00May 19th, 2022|Process Safety, Process Safety Management|0 Comments

PVEs, BLEVEs, VCEs, and Fireballs: How Do They Differ?

“Maybe tone it down with the explosions.”  — Michael Bay Most of what we know about explosions is wrong. Most of what we “know” about explosions is what we’ve learned from the movies, which is the only thing called an explosion that we ever see. But what we see in the movies are not explosions, [...]

By |2022-05-12T15:45:09+00:00May 12th, 2022|Chemicals, Process Safety|0 Comments

Going to a Safe State: De-energize to Trip

“You may hate gravity, but gravity doesn’t care.”  — Clayton Christensen In May 1946, a scientist at Los Alamos was demonstrating the criticality of plutonium. The demonstration consisted of lowering the upper hemisphere of a spherical shell around a mass of plutonium. As he lowered it, however, it slipped and completed the spherical shell, causing [...]

Fail Safe: A Dangerous Misconception

“They’ve thought of everything. Everything, that is, but their own failure.”  — K. Austin Collins I recently watched the 1964 movie, Fail Safe, directed by Sidney Lumet. It reminded me of a dangerous misconception I frequently encounter during process hazard reviews. If you are not familiar with the movie, it came out shortly after the [...]

By |2022-04-21T17:06:11+00:00April 21st, 2022|PHA, Process Safety|3 Comments

Process Design and Hazard Review: They Are Not the Same

“A camel is a horse designed by a committee.”  — Alec Issigonis Good process design results in a process that is more likely to work. Great process design results in a process that is even less likely to not work. Great process design is not the result of compromise and trade-offs, but of a singular [...]

By |2022-04-14T13:39:40+00:00April 14th, 2022|PHA, Process Safety, Process Safety Management|0 Comments

Probability of Failure: Power Transformer Reliability

“At the end of this day, one shall stand, one shall fall.”  — Optimus Prime, Transformers: The Movie I have never been to a process plant that could continue running without electrical power. So, it is not uncommon to see a plant with two separate electrical feeds, each with their own transformers. On most days, [...]

By |2022-04-07T15:42:32+00:00April 7th, 2022|PHA, Process Safety, Workplace Safety|0 Comments

Power Failures: Back-Up Generator Reliability

“With a purposeful grimace and a terrible sound, he pulls the spitting high tension wires down.”  — Buck Dharma, Blue Öyster Cult The preferred design of a safety function is one that deenergizes to trip. That is, a function that goes to the safe state when all sources of energy have been removed. The probability [...]

Safety in a Time of War

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower A safety professional I know recently looked at the photo above and commented, “Does that look safe?” Any [...]

By |2022-03-24T18:12:41+00:00March 24th, 2022|Current Events, Process Safety, Workplace Safety|0 Comments

Eternal Vigilance: Proof Tests are Essential to Safety

“But, after all, no safeguards are adequate, unless the will to give effect to them fully is present.”  — Jawaharial Nehru I had a truly embarrassing experience a couple days ago. I got a flat tire. The flat tire itself wasn’t embarrassing.  Annoying, yes, but not embarrassing. There are road hazards, and even the most [...]

Occupancy: Getting It Right

“I don’t worry about the bullet with my name on it. Can’t do anything about that. It’s the bullet addressed to ‘Occupant’ that I worry about.”  — Drew Schmidt I don’t get as much junk mail as I used to.  Now, I get junk emails and junk texts. When I do get junk mail, however, [...]

By |2022-03-10T18:38:15+00:00March 10th, 2022|PHA, Process Safety, Process Safety Management|0 Comments
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