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.

Just Water? Process Hazards of H2O

“It is with our passions as it is with fire and water; they are good servants but bad masters.”  — Aesop A common trope of Hazard Communication training is for the instructor to share an SDS of “dihydrogen oxide” with the class and to review all the dangers of this “hazardous chemical”. Then, in a [...]

By |2022-08-11T18:09:25+00:00August 11th, 2022|Current Events, Process Safety|0 Comments

Accidental Release Reporting: Data from the CSB

“There are two kinds of learning: experience, which is gained from your own mistakes, and wisdom, which is learned from the mistakes of others.”  — John C. Maxwell The Chemical Safety Board is not an enforcement agency. So, it came as a shock to many when the CSB issued the Accidental Release Report Rule (40 [...]

Not Just PPE—The Right PPE!

“The hardest choices in life aren’t between what’s right and what’s wrong but between what’s right and what’s best.”  — Jamie Ford Most of the chemical plants I’ve ever worked in or visited required specific kinds of personal protective equipment (PPE). Usually, hard hats, safety shoes, and safety glasses with side shields were the minimum [...]

By |2022-07-28T13:43:13+00:00July 28th, 2022|Training, Workplace Safety|Comments Off on Not Just PPE—The Right PPE!

Recent Explosions in St. Louis: Lessons for Process Safety

“It always seems impossible until done.”  — Nelson Mandela There are dozens of motivational posters available that encourage us all to believe that we can do the impossible. They intend to inspire us to reach for the stars. But there is also a dark side to achieving the impossible. It’s when the impossible we are [...]

By |2022-07-15T14:14:53+00:00July 15th, 2022|Chemicals, Current Events, Process Safety|Comments Off on Recent Explosions in St. Louis: Lessons for Process Safety

Unavailability During Proof Tests: What Do You Do?

“…there’s a cat in a box somewhere who’s alive and dead at the same time (although if they don’t ever open the box to feed it, it’ll eventually just be two different kinds of dead)…”  — Neil Gaiman, in American Gods Erwin Schrödinger never intended his thought experiment about a cat in box to launch [...]

By |2022-06-30T15:48:00+00:00June 30th, 2022|Process Safety, Process Safety Management|Comments Off on Unavailability During Proof Tests: What Do You Do?

Consider: A Weasel Word?

“For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged, by better information or fuller consideration, to change opinions, even on important subjects, which I once thought right but found to be otherwise.” — Benjamin Franklin The first time you ever encountered a weasel word was probably when your mom said, “Maybe,” or [...]

By |2022-06-02T13:30:01+00:00June 2nd, 2022|Chemicals, PHA, Process Safety Management, Recommendations|Comments Off on Consider: A Weasel Word?

The Chemical Process Industries: Getting Safer?

“My first customer was a lunatic. My second had a death wish.”  — Karl Benz We want to get safer. We invest enormous resources in making the world a safer place. Sometimes, though, it doesn’t seem like we’re making much progress, especially when we’ve just experienced a catastrophic event. Instead, it seems like we just [...]

By |2022-05-26T15:55:08+00:00May 26th, 2022|Process Safety, Workplace Safety|Comments Off on The Chemical Process Industries: Getting Safer?

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|Comments Off on Are Boilers PSM-Covered? Maybe, Maybe Not

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|Comments Off on PVEs, BLEVEs, VCEs, and Fireballs: How Do They Differ?

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 [...]

By |2022-05-05T16:21:24+00:00May 5th, 2022|Process Safety, Process Safety Management|Comments Off on Going to a Safe State: De-energize to Trip
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