It’s Natural, But Is It Safe?

November 11th, 2022|Comments Off on It’s Natural, But Is It Safe?

“…made from all natural ingredients, so you know it’s safe.”  — Brian Angliss, mocking an advertisement for an ED product I once had a roommate who would [...]

Top 10 OSHA Violations: The Process Industries

October 20th, 2022|Comments Off on Top 10 OSHA Violations: The Process Industries

“The human animal differs from the lesser primates in his passion for lists.”  — H. Allen Smith My first experience with lists was as a child, when [...]

Hearing Protection: Will Earbuds or Headphones Work?

October 13th, 2022|Comments Off on Hearing Protection: Will Earbuds or Headphones Work?

“Hearing loss is a terrible thing because it cannot be repaired.”  — Pete Townshend “Why not?” The young operator had just asked if they could wear earbuds [...]

HazWOpER: What is an Emergency?

October 6th, 2022|Comments Off on HazWOpER: What is an Emergency?

“I don’t worry about a zombie apocalypse. Mainly because it’s unlikely, but also because I think I’d be pretty good in that type of emergency.”  — Sarah [...]

Time for Change: Revising the Elements of PSM

September 29th, 2022|Comments Off on Time for Change: Revising the Elements of PSM

“The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.”  — Charles Kettering I just got notice from OSHA that I am registered [...]

Just Two Breaths

September 15th, 2022|Comments Off on Just Two Breaths

“I love to breath. Oxygen is sexy.”  — Kris Carr How long can you hold your breath? One minute? Two minutes? Pearl divers have been known to [...]

The Shipping News

August 25th, 2022|Comments Off on The Shipping News

“Eighty thousand pounds of muscle, blood, and steel in a pile. It’s spectacular.”  — Gary Williams No plant in the chemical process industries wants to make the [...]

I Can’t Breathe: Asphyxia in the Process Industries

August 18th, 2022|Comments Off on I Can’t Breathe: Asphyxia in the Process Industries

“Suffocation is a cruel way to go.”  — Arlaina Tibensky I usually think of process safety hazards as being related to fire, explosions, or toxic releases. There [...]

Just Water? Process Hazards of H2O

August 11th, 2022|Comments Off on 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 [...]

Accidental Release Reporting: Data from the CSB

August 4th, 2022|Comments Off on 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. [...]

Not Just PPE—The Right PPE!

July 28th, 2022|Comments Off on 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 [...]

Consider: A Weasel Word?

June 2nd, 2022|Comments Off on 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 [...]

Are Boilers PSM-Covered? Maybe, Maybe Not

May 19th, 2022|Comments Off on 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 [...]

Going to a Safe State: De-energize to Trip

May 5th, 2022|Comments Off on 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 [...]

Power Failures: Back-Up Generator Reliability

March 31st, 2022|Comments Off on 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 in a Time of War

March 24th, 2022|Comments Off on 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 [...]

Occupancy: Getting It Right

March 10th, 2022|Comments Off on 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.”  — [...]

Process Safety: Making Promises We Can’t Keep?

March 3rd, 2022|Comments Off on Process Safety: Making Promises We Can’t Keep?

“Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these courageous couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”  — Herodotus In 1912, one [...]

Process Risk: Learning from Experience

February 24th, 2022|Comments Off on Process Risk: Learning from Experience

“We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.”  — John Dewey There are too many celebrities and philosophers to count who have talked about [...]

KISS: Keep It Simple = Safety

February 3rd, 2022|Comments Off on KISS: Keep It Simple = Safety

“Simplicity is prerequisite for reliability.”  — Edsger Dijkstra For most of my life, I have struggled to keep down to a healthy weight. It didn’t help when [...]

The Supreme Court and Process Safety

January 20th, 2022|Comments Off on The Supreme Court and Process Safety

“That is not to say OSHA lacks authority to regulate occupation-specific risks related to COVID–19.”  — Brett Kavanaugh It’s not often that the courts weigh in on [...]

It’s Magic: Documentation and Certification in PSM

January 13th, 2022|Comments Off on It’s Magic: Documentation and Certification in PSM

“You don’t need to say any special incantation or sacrifice a stray cat or something first.”  — Kevin Hearne A common complaint about complying with OSHA’s Process [...]

Process Safety: Addressing Risk or Dread?

January 6th, 2022|Comments Off on Process Safety: Addressing Risk or Dread?

“The risks that scare people and the risks that kill people are very different.”  — Peter Sandman I often wonder if work in process safety is a [...]

Work-Related Fatalities in the Year of Covid

December 30th, 2021|Comments Off on Work-Related Fatalities in the Year of Covid

“Maybe this virus has a silver lining.”  — Katherine Plumhoff The Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its workplace safety statistics for the previous year each December. The [...]

Tis the Season for Static

December 23rd, 2021|Comments Off on Tis the Season for Static

“Take off your sweater in the darkness and static flares as a tiny lightning storm.”  — John Geddes The dry air of winter makes it much more [...]

Risk Reduction: Any Credit for Mechanical Integrity?

December 9th, 2021|Comments Off on Risk Reduction: Any Credit for Mechanical Integrity?

“People give us credit only for what we ourselves believe.”  — Karl Gutzkow Several years ago, in a paper and presentation to the Global Congress on Process [...]

Piling On: One More Safeguard?

December 2nd, 2021|Comments Off on Piling On: One More Safeguard?

“Some safety professionals, in the name of ‘zero-injuries’, will heap regulation after regulation on a job until the organization rebels and simply refuses to comply.”  — Phil [...]

E-Stops: The “Get Fired Button”

November 18th, 2021|Comments Off on E-Stops: The “Get Fired Button”

“Panic is a natural response to danger, but it’s one that severely compounds the risk.”  — David Ignatius At 2:30 am, on Saturday, October 2, 2021, a split [...]

Speed Of Thought

October 7th, 2021|Comments Off on Speed Of Thought

The degree of slowness is directionally proportional to the intensity of memory. The degree of speed is directionally proportional to the intensity of forgetting.” ― Milan Kundera, Slowness Every [...]

Batch Processes: Consider a Procedural HazOp

September 30th, 2021|Comments Off on Batch Processes: Consider a Procedural HazOp

“We know we need civilization and laws and procedures, but isn’t it frustrating? Wouldn’t it be great if we could just do what we needed to do?”  [...]

Safety Training: Why Do We Hate It?

September 16th, 2021|Comments Off on Safety Training: Why Do We Hate It?

“I wish we had more safety training.”  — No one. Ever. Have you ever had a coworker respond, “You are so lucky,” when you told them that [...]

Process Safety and Ethics

September 2nd, 2021|Comments Off on Process Safety and Ethics

“Our very lives depend on the ethics of strangers, and most of us are always strangers to other people.”  — Bill Moyers One definition of ethics is [...]

Process Safety and Mental Health

August 12th, 2021|Comments Off on Process Safety and Mental Health

“Because most suicides do not happen at work, many employers do not consider depression or suicide an industry problem or occupational hazard.”  — Stu Kemppairnen When we [...]

Steam or Hot Oil: Which Is Safer?

July 22nd, 2021|Comments Off on Steam or Hot Oil: Which Is Safer?

“I have always fancied that the end of the world will be when some enormous boiler, heated to three thousand millions of atmospheric pressure, shall explode and [...]

Also?

July 15th, 2021|Comments Off on Also?

“I’m not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know I’m not dumb…and I also know that I’m not blonde.”  — Dolly Parton See someone [...]

SIS and the Bathtub Curve

July 1st, 2021|Comments Off on SIS and the Bathtub Curve

“When I was young, I would sit in the bath and ideas would come to me. But I’m not young anymore, so now I just sit in [...]

How Much Credit for Alarms?

June 24th, 2021|Comments Off on How Much Credit for Alarms?

“Morning comes whether you set the alarm or not.”  — Ursula K. Le Guin Late one evening a few months after we moved into our offices on [...]

DHAs: An OSHA Requirement?

April 29th, 2021|Comments Off on DHAs: An OSHA Requirement?

“Speed limit 55. It’s not just a good idea. It’s the law.”  — Advertising Council and U.S. Department of Transportation (1977) Ever since the National Fire Protection [...]

Just Paint? Fire and Explosion in Ohio

April 15th, 2021|Comments Off on Just Paint? Fire and Explosion in Ohio

“Never underestimate the power of a fresh coat of white paint.”  — Jeremiah Brent Shortly after midnight on Thursday, April 8, there was a fire and explosion [...]

Toeing the Line on Equipment Spacing

April 1st, 2021|Comments Off on Toeing the Line on Equipment Spacing

“Perfection of planned layout is only achieved by institutions on the point of collapse.” -C. Northcote Parkinson   Must be an Easy Way Out Every time you [...]

The Dose Makes the Poison

March 25th, 2021|Comments Off on The Dose Makes the Poison

“All things are poison, and nothing is without poison; the dosage alone makes it so a thing is not a poison.”  — Paracelsus Have you ever noticed [...]

Don’t Want No Static

March 18th, 2021|Comments Off on Don’t Want No Static

“Electricity can be dangerous. My nephew tried to stick a penny into a plug. Whoever said a penny doesn’t go far didn’t see him shoot across that [...]

Combustible Dust Tests: Now What?

March 11th, 2021|Comments Off on Combustible Dust Tests: Now What?

“We have first raised a dust and then complain we cannot see.”  — George Berkeley You don’t need to be convinced that combustible dusts are hazardous. You’ve [...]

Thinking Outside the Chatterbox

February 25th, 2021|Comments Off on Thinking Outside the Chatterbox

“Incomprehensible jargon is the hallmark of a profession.”-Kingman Brewster Jargon.  A word that most of us have heard before.  Many enjoy using certain phrases that amount to [...]

Process Safety Beyond the Fence Line

February 18th, 2021|Comments Off on Process Safety Beyond the Fence Line

“I’m an actor… I do a job and I go home. Why are you interested in me? You don’t ask a truck driver about his job.”  — [...]

Simple Asphyxiation: The Tragedy in Gainesville

February 4th, 2021|Comments Off on Simple Asphyxiation: The Tragedy in Gainesville

“It is these properties that make materials so useful that also pose hazards to health and property.”  — Peter Lodal Liquid nitrogen has some wonderful properties. It [...]

Politicizing Workplace Safety

January 28th, 2021|Comments Off on Politicizing Workplace Safety

“Politicized public health policy strays too far from sober assessment of scientific facts and runs the risk of constituting naked political advocacy.”  — Daniel Goldberg In the [...]

Tribal Knowledge: Documentation Is Key

January 21st, 2021|Comments Off on Tribal Knowledge: Documentation Is Key

“It is beyond a doubt that all our knowledge begins with experience.”- Immanuel Kant In the hustle and bustle of our modern world, we take shortcuts to [...]

PSSRs: Commissioning on Steroids?

January 14th, 2021|Comments Off on PSSRs: Commissioning on Steroids?

“Ideas are commodity. Execution of them is not.”  — Michael Dell I’ve always believed that a poor plant design, brilliantly operated and maintained, is far safer than [...]

Pool Fires

January 8th, 2021|Comments Off on Pool Fires

“Build a man a fire, and he’ll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life.”  [...]

Squeezing the Balloon

December 31st, 2020|Comments Off on Squeezing the Balloon

“Squeezing a balloon in one place makes it expand in another.”  — Bernd Debusmann Finally. 2020, the worst year in living memory for most of us, is [...]

“Expanded” PSM Coverage: What Has Changed?

December 17th, 2020|Comments Off on “Expanded” PSM Coverage: What Has Changed?

“I don’t believe in life after death. But I do believe in some grinding destiny that watches over us on earth. If I didn’t, the safety valve [...]

Accident Prone?

December 10th, 2020|Comments Off on Accident Prone?

“If it wasn’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.”  — Walter Mosley Have you ever known someone who seemed to have more than their [...]

Dear Austin: Is It Going to Get Better?

December 3rd, 2020|Comments Off on Dear Austin: Is It Going to Get Better?

“The future depends on what you do today.”  — Mahatma Gandhi “How intensive is the view on safety in the engineering, manufacturing, and industrial world?” As this [...]

Training: How Refreshing

October 29th, 2020|Comments Off on Training: How Refreshing

“It is so refreshing to have somebody approach education rationally.”  — Adam Cooper There probably isn’t anything as refreshing as a shower. Especially after hot, dirty work. [...]

Your Plant on Nextdoor

September 24th, 2020|Comments Off on Your Plant on Nextdoor

“Where our memories fade, the Internet never forgets. At the drop of a hat, friends, family members, acquaintances, and even strangers can call up these records, and [...]

PHAs and LOPAs: What Would You Recommend?

September 17th, 2020|Comments Off on PHAs and LOPAs: What Would You Recommend?

“I don’t have a particular recommendation other than that we base decisions on as much hard data as possible.”  — Dorothy E. Denning The best waiters are [...]

Black Sky: A Bad Week for Polyethylene

August 27th, 2020|Comments Off on Black Sky: A Bad Week for Polyethylene

“It’s everything you do and nothing that you did.”  — Steve Cash Poly-America is having a bad week. Last Wednesday, August 19, at around 1 am, a [...]

Fahrenheit 451: Autoignition Temperatures

August 20th, 2020|Comments Off on Fahrenheit 451: Autoignition Temperatures

“‘Stuff your eyes with wonder,’ he said, ‘live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic that any dream made or [...]

Insanity: Another Ammonium Nitrate Explosion

August 13th, 2020|Comments Off on Insanity: Another Ammonium Nitrate Explosion

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” — First said by an anonymous member of Al-Anon in Knoxville, Tennessee I [...]

Previous Incidents: Learning from Mistakes

July 30th, 2020|Comments Off on Previous Incidents: Learning from Mistakes

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”  — Henry Ford I know a young woman whose relationships are in a constant state [...]

Choosing Safety: Is That How We Roll?

July 23rd, 2020|Comments Off on Choosing Safety: Is That How We Roll?

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”  — Maya Angelou Many St. Louis drivers view stop signs [...]

In the Midst of a Pandemic: Fourth of July Safety

July 2nd, 2020|Comments Off on In the Midst of a Pandemic: Fourth of July Safety

“Fourth of July is not cancelled this year…it will just look a little different.”  — Megan Willgoos I love fireworks displays. Especially those with big finales. As [...]

Breaking the Law: Conservation of Recklessness

June 25th, 2020|Comments Off on Breaking the Law: Conservation of Recklessness

“Be afraid. Be very afraid.”  — Geena Davis as Veronica Quaife in The Fly, directed by David Cronenburg Try as we might, we safety professionals cannot make [...]

Why We Wear Masks

June 18th, 2020|1 Comment

“The amount of misinformation on the Internet – especially on Facebook and especially during times of crisis – is staggering.”  — Benjamin Franklin We’ve returned to work [...]

PPE: It’s Not Personal

June 11th, 2020|1 Comment

“The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.”  — John B. Finch I have mixed feelings about motorcycle helmets and mandatory helmet [...]

Whose Fault? What to Do with Crazy

May 14th, 2020|Comments Off on Whose Fault? What to Do with Crazy

“Minimizing your exposure to pathology goes a long, long way.”  — Dr. Susan Biali Haas When a sensor faults, it doesn’t stop providing information. It’s just unreliable [...]

Human Response: An Effective Safeguard?

April 30th, 2020|Comments Off on Human Response: An Effective Safeguard?

“Shallow men believe in luck; wise and strong men in the cause and effect." – Ralph Waldo Emerson In process safety, one important aspect of assessing risk [...]

Managing Process Safety: Lessons from the Pandemic

April 23rd, 2020|Comments Off on Managing Process Safety: Lessons from the Pandemic

“When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.”  — Samuel Johnson COVID-19, with its 14-day – fortnight – [...]

What If There Was No PSM Standard?

March 26th, 2020|Comments Off on What If There Was No PSM Standard?

“What’s the use you learning to do right when it’s troublesome to do right and ain’t no trouble to do wrong, and the wages is just the [...]

Process Safety: How Far We’ve Come

March 12th, 2020|Comments Off on Process Safety: How Far We’ve Come

“Life is a journey and not a destination.”  — Lynn H. Hough When Richard Nixon signed OSHA into law in 1970, the United States was looking at [...]

Emergencies: Who Are Essential Personnel?

March 5th, 2020|Comments Off on Emergencies: Who Are Essential Personnel?

“Is there anyone here on staff who you think is non-essential? If you had to give up one name, who would it be?”  — Conan O’Brien During [...]

Here We Go Again: Defunding the CSB

February 13th, 2020|Comments Off on Here We Go Again: Defunding the CSB

“Here we go again. Fighting for resources. What the hell am I doing here?”  — Brad Pitt as Roy McBride in Ad Astra I just received an [...]

Villains, Victims, and Heroes in Process Safety

February 6th, 2020|Comments Off on Villains, Victims, and Heroes in Process Safety

“You’re a hero one day, you’re a villain another day.”  — Vincent Tan Every good story is a story of conflict. It has a villain. It has [...]

What We Know: Another Explosion in Houston

January 30th, 2020|Comments Off on What We Know: Another Explosion in Houston

“All I know is what I read in the papers.”  — Will Rogers When there is a catastrophic release of highly hazardous chemicals, I want to know [...]

3 Criteria for Picking LOPA Scenarios

January 16th, 2020|Comments Off on 3 Criteria for Picking LOPA Scenarios

“The easiest way to solve a problem is to pick an easy one.”  — Franklin P. Jones We love having choices. We hate making choices. What if [...]

Things We Worry About: Celebratory Gunfire

January 2nd, 2020|Comments Off on Things We Worry About: Celebratory Gunfire

“[It’s the] wild west in Dutchtown to ring in the new year. :(”  — Jennie Foster on Nextdoor In my neighborhood, you don’t need a clock or [...]

2018 BLS Fatality Report: Has Anything Changed?

December 26th, 2019|Comments Off on 2018 BLS Fatality Report: Has Anything Changed?

“The more things change, the more they remain the same.”  — Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr When I was a young engineer living in a small town in central [...]

Improving Human Performance Reliability

November 21st, 2019|Comments Off on Improving Human Performance Reliability

 “We must accept human error as inevitable - and design around that fact.”  — Donald Berwick The idea of human error and its contribution to industrial incidents [...]

A Fatal Cleaning Incident: Familiarity Breeds …

November 14th, 2019|Comments Off on A Fatal Cleaning Incident: Familiarity Breeds …

“While devastated at this unimaginable loss, we are so very proud that Ryan died while trying to protect his fellow employees and restaurant patrons.”  — family of [...]

Dia de los Muertos: Remembering the Dead

October 31st, 2019|Comments Off on Dia de los Muertos: Remembering the Dead

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  — George Santayana Our offices on Cherokee Street exist in the midst of a vibrant Hispanic [...]

Size Matters: Sampling for PSM Compliance Audits

October 24th, 2019|Comments Off on Size Matters: Sampling for PSM Compliance Audits

“Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable.”  — Oscar G. Foellinger, 1927 As an engineering student, I once used empirical data to solve a design [...]

We’re Not Wizards

October 17th, 2019|Comments Off on We’re Not Wizards

“But how they can be charged with negligence because they were not wizards, appellant’s brief does not make clear.”  — Osmond K. Fraenkel, successfully arguing before the [...]

Fools Rush In: What We Really Expect

October 10th, 2019|Comments Off on Fools Rush In: What We Really Expect

“For Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread.”  — Alexander Pope I once led some process safety training that involved people from several different plants from [...]

Changing the Bet: The Safety Experience

October 3rd, 2019|Comments Off on Changing the Bet: The Safety Experience

“When you gamble with safety, you bet your life.”  Slogan on an industrial entrance mat The biggest obstacle to getting people to heed safety training is that [...]

Someone Else’s Experience

September 26th, 2019|Comments Off on Someone Else’s Experience

“Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.”  — C.S.Lewis We all learn from experience. When it comes to brutal lessons, [...]

PSM Auditor: Coach or Umpire?

September 19th, 2019|Comments Off on PSM Auditor: Coach or Umpire?

“Umpires don’t make the rules.  They apply them…They make sure everybody plays by the rules.  But it is a limited role.  Nobody ever went to a ballgame [...]

More Than Three? Limits to Redundancy

September 12th, 2019|Comments Off on More Than Three? Limits to Redundancy

“How can you trust a man who wears both a belt and suspenders? The man can’t even trust his own pants.”  — Henry Fonda as Frank, in [...]

Seven Questions: The Essence of HazOps

August 29th, 2019|Comments Off on Seven Questions: The Essence of HazOps

“A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.”  — Francis Bacon There are about a gazillion “best” ways to do HazOps. What they all have in common, however, [...]

For Engineering Students: Some Unsolicited Advice

August 15th, 2019|Comments Off on For Engineering Students: Some Unsolicited Advice

“Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.” – Albert Einstein My day job is process safety engineer, but I also teach [...]

H21: Is Hydrogen a Safe Fuel?

August 8th, 2019|Comments Off on H21: Is Hydrogen a Safe Fuel?

“The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity.” - Harlan Ellison I first learned about H21, the project to convert the fuel gas [...]

Emotional Stress and Its Effect on Safety

July 25th, 2019|Comments Off on Emotional Stress and Its Effect on Safety

“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion.”  — Dale Carnegie Perfect lives don’t exist.  We’ve all [...]

One Small Step

July 18th, 2019|Comments Off on One Small Step

“If we can put a man on the moon, why can’t we…”  — Nearly Everyone Fifty years ago, humans first walked on the moon. It was and [...]

Yes, But…Hardware Fault Tolerance

July 11th, 2019|Comments Off on Yes, But…Hardware Fault Tolerance

“Therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Universita Committeeatum E Pluribus Unum, I hereby confer upon you the honorary degree of Th.D.,… er, [...]

Putting Safety First on the 4th

June 27th, 2019|Comments Off on Putting Safety First on the 4th

“As far as fireworks, it's very dangerous. You shouldn't play with them.” – Jason Pierre-Paul An American Tradition In the United States, the 4th of July holds [...]

A Process Safety Hat Trick

June 20th, 2019|Comments Off on A Process Safety Hat Trick

“I hated being pregnant, but I never minded being in labor.  I knew I would get a prize at the end.”  — Chris Schmidt, mother of four [...]

Dangerous Jobs: Why Do Some Choose Them?

June 12th, 2019|Comments Off on Dangerous Jobs: Why Do Some Choose Them?

The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore. -Vincent Van Gogh [...]

As Safe as You Want to Be

June 6th, 2019|Comments Off on As Safe as You Want to Be

“If the government wanted people to drive safely, they’d mandate a spike in the middle of each steering wheel.”  — Gordon Tullock We call economics “the dismal [...]

Taking Safety Home

May 30th, 2019|Comments Off on Taking Safety Home

“Safety is a common denominator across all aspects of life...”  Doug Bourne After working in a manufacturing environment for 2 years, I have developed a great appreciation [...]

Doing HazOps the RIGHT Way!

May 16th, 2019|Comments Off on Doing HazOps the RIGHT Way!

“Watching two engineers argue is like watching pigs wallow in mud. Eventually you figure out that they do it because they like to.”  — Anonymous I’m still [...]

Lab Safety: A Three Phase System

May 9th, 2019|Comments Off on Lab Safety: A Three Phase System

“A pint of sweat will save a gallon of blood.”  George S. Patton, Jr. I intended to begin with “A good plan, well executed, is better than [...]

Double Jeopardy: Impossible?

April 25th, 2019|Comments Off on Double Jeopardy: Impossible?

“Everything is impossible until it is done.”  — Robert H. Goddard In 1921, annoyed with ignorant criticism, Robert Goddard published a piece in Scientific American in defense [...]

Notre-Dame Burning: Don’t Wait for the Fire

April 18th, 2019|Comments Off on Notre-Dame Burning: Don’t Wait for the Fire

“If your house were burning down and you could take away one thing, what would it be?”…”I’d take the fire.” — Jean Cocteau, interviewed by André Fraigneau [...]

An Incident? Don’t Recommend Training!

April 11th, 2019|Comments Off on An Incident? Don’t Recommend Training!

“It’s not how we make mistakes, but how we correct them that defines us.”  — Rachel Wolchin One of the most common recommendations made as a result [...]

“No Harm, No Foul”: Madness

April 4th, 2019|Comments Off on “No Harm, No Foul”: Madness

“As they depend, not upon the agent, but upon fortune, they cannot be the proper foundation for any sentiment” — Adam Smith We all believe that people [...]

Setting Limits: Where Does Your PSM-Covered Process End?

March 28th, 2019|Comments Off on Setting Limits: Where Does Your PSM-Covered Process End?

“Human genius has limits, but stupidity does not.”  — Alexandre Dumas, fils Everyone we have ever worked with is accepting, if not downright enthusiastic, about managing process [...]

Grounding the Max 8: Ignoring Near Misses

March 14th, 2019|Comments Off on Grounding the Max 8: Ignoring Near Misses

“The failure of a layer of protection to prevent an incident is not the initiating cause of the incident.”  The United States just joined much of the [...]

Worst Case Scenario: What Does It Mean?

March 7th, 2019|Comments Off on Worst Case Scenario: What Does It Mean?

“No matter how bad things are, you can always make things worse.”  — Randy Pausch The term “worst case” lacks rigor.  Let’s stop using it. “Worst case” [...]

Do You Need a Hero? Emergency Action Plans

February 14th, 2019|Comments Off on Do You Need a Hero? Emergency Action Plans

“Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy.”  — F. Scott Fitzgerald Being a firefighter is about as safe as any typical job in the [...]

Why Different PHA Teams Get Different Results

February 7th, 2019|Comments Off on Why Different PHA Teams Get Different Results

“Differences challenge assumptions.”  Anne Wilson Schaef There is a common misunderstanding about the nature of Process Hazard Analyses (PHAs):  that they are objective studies. By objective, we [...]

Your Next Blockbuster Adventure: The PHA

January 31st, 2019|Comments Off on Your Next Blockbuster Adventure: The PHA

“Archeology is the search for fact, not truth. If it’s truth you’re looking for, Dr. Tyree’s philosophy class is right down the hall.” — Indiana Jones, from [...]

Risk Tolerance Criteria: How Low Do You Go?

January 24th, 2019|Comments Off on Risk Tolerance Criteria: How Low Do You Go?

“Some risks are plainly acceptable and others are plainly unacceptable.”  Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens When Justice Stevens wrote that opinion for the majority in the [...]

Near Misses: Learning from Experience

January 10th, 2019|Comments Off on Near Misses: Learning from Experience

“Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward.”  — Vernon Law When hit with the first winter storm of the season, [...]

Lab Safety: Being Interested Isn’t Enough

January 3rd, 2019|Comments Off on Lab Safety: Being Interested Isn’t Enough

“Once trained, the hazard often becomes a routine part of their experimentation and researchers perceive themselves to be experts in handling the hazard. Perceived familiarity can shift [...]

Lock the Gates Behind You

December 20th, 2018|Comments Off on Lock the Gates Behind You

“If you want zero risk in the plant, send everyone home and lock the gate.”  — Industrial safety proverb I don’t remember when I first heard it, [...]

Master the Box

December 14th, 2018|1 Comment

“Constraints inspire creativity.”  — Christopher Isaac “Biz”Stone, co-founder of Twitter I once asked a young engineer if he knew where the phrase, “Think Outside the Box,” came [...]

Options: Reducing Risk

December 6th, 2018|1 Comment

“To have constructive conversations about … options, one needs to take a calm look at the numbers.”  — David J.C. MacKay In addition to the usual hazards [...]

Not Likely

November 15th, 2018|Comments Off on Not Likely

“None of this will be important if there’s a zombie apocalypse. But how likely is that?”  —Jason Vladescu I was once at a conference where I overheard [...]

Things We Worry About: Plane Crashes

November 8th, 2018|Comments Off on Things We Worry About: Plane Crashes

“You are now statistically more likely to be elected president of the United States in your lifetime than you are to die in a plane crash. What [...]

Caps and Plugs: Why We Do The Things We Do

October 18th, 2018|Comments Off on Caps and Plugs: Why We Do The Things We Do

“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.”  —Warren Buffett Caps and plugs serve no process function. It [...]

Things We Worry About: In-plant Derailments

October 11th, 2018|Comments Off on Things We Worry About: In-plant Derailments

“To invent the train is to invent the rail accident of derailment.”  —Paul Virilio When most of us think of train derailments, we think of horrendous events, [...]

A New Enforcement Program: Ammonia and Ammonium Nitrate

October 4th, 2018|Comments Off on A New Enforcement Program: Ammonia and Ammonium Nitrate

“This program is an enforcement tool to emphasize the obligations under existing OSHA standards,”  – Kimberly Stille, OSHA Region VII Administrator When the West Fertilizer ammonium nitrate [...]

Operator Stress: How Does it Impact Safety?

September 27th, 2018|Comments Off on Operator Stress: How Does it Impact Safety?

“I’ve never seen a tombstone that read ‘Here lies such and such, he was a really great asset to his company.’”  Unknown Have you ever tried to [...]

Cracks in the Bridge: FIU Part 2

September 20th, 2018|Comments Off on Cracks in the Bridge: FIU Part 2

“…obviously some repairs or whatever will have to be done but from a safety perspective we don’t see that there’s any issue there, so we’re not concerned [...]

Things We Worry About: In-plant Truck Releases

September 13th, 2018|Comments Off on Things We Worry About: In-plant Truck Releases

“It’s no good crying over spilt milk, because all the forces of the universe are bent on spilling it.”  —William Somerset Maugham Imagine a tank truck shows [...]

Arkema: A Ham Sandwich

September 6th, 2018|Comments Off on Arkema: A Ham Sandwich

“The district attorney could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich if he wanted to.” Judge Sol Wachtler Arkema is a ham sandwich. A year [...]

Before You Hear It on the News

August 30th, 2018|Comments Off on Before You Hear It on the News

“I just wanted to call you and let you know before you heard it on the news.”  —Mike Schmidt When we were newlyweds, my husband once called [...]

Breaking Glass: Facility Siting

August 2nd, 2018|Comments Off on Breaking Glass: Facility Siting

“I love the sound of breaking glass.”  Nick Lowe When I was a kid, the song, “I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass,” was on the radio. [...]

Audits and Inspections: What’s the Difference?

July 26th, 2018|Comments Off on Audits and Inspections: What’s the Difference?

“There are no secrets to success.  It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”  Colin Powell Before I began working in process safety, [...]

My Process Isn’t Covered by the PSM Standard

July 12th, 2018|Comments Off on My Process Isn’t Covered by the PSM Standard

“Habits are safer than rules; you don’t have to watch them. And you don’t have to keep them, either. They keep you.”  —Frank Crane You’ve done it! [...]

Human Factors: The Power of Words

July 5th, 2018|Comments Off on Human Factors: The Power of Words

“Words do not express thoughts very well. They always become a little different immediately after they are expressed, a little distorted, a little foolish.”  —Hermann Hesse I [...]

Abandon-in-Place or Decommission?

June 28th, 2018|Comments Off on Abandon-in-Place or Decommission?

“Let go of the attachment, keep the lesson.”  L.J. Vanier On February 16, 2007, a propane fire broke out at the Valero McKee Refinery in Sunray, Texas.  [...]

Safety Incidents: Blaming the Victim

June 21st, 2018|Comments Off on Safety Incidents: Blaming the Victim

“Our culture peculiarly honors the act of blaming, which it takes as the sign of virtue and intellect.” –Lionel Trilling Although the phrase, “blaming the victim,” has [...]

How Rare is Rare?

June 7th, 2018|Comments Off on How Rare is Rare?

“The unlikely combination of potatoes and pasta does appear in some Italian recipes.”  Yotam Ottolenghi People sometimes have a hard time appreciating the difference between risk and [...]

10 Years

May 17th, 2018|Comments Off on 10 Years

“An organization, no matter how well designed, is only as good as the people who live and work in it.”  -Dee Hock May 22 marks our tenth [...]

Just to be Safe: Can You be Too Conservative?

May 3rd, 2018|Comments Off on Just to be Safe: Can You be Too Conservative?

“I’m a conservative, but I’m not a nut about it.”  George H.W.Bush We’ve all heard it.  “You need to be conservative, just to be on the safe [...]

In the Line of Duty: Workers’ Memorial Day

April 26th, 2018|Comments Off on In the Line of Duty: Workers’ Memorial Day

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."  —John F. Kennedy In [...]

What Does an OSHA Fine Mean?

April 5th, 2018|Comments Off on What Does an OSHA Fine Mean?

“There is no worse place … to be than on Page 1, above the fold in your daily newspaper.”  Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of the National [...]

Changing Safety Culture

March 29th, 2018|1 Comment

“How many psychologists does it take to change a lightbulb? Just one, but the lightbulb really has to want to change.”  Anonymous A former student, now working [...]

Slow Down: The FIU Bridge Collapse

March 19th, 2018|Comments Off on Slow Down: The FIU Bridge Collapse

“Have you ever noticed when something bad happens, people automatically look for someone to blame?”  Amy Roberts I’m not a structural engineer, which means that I’m not [...]

Spark Detection

March 15th, 2018|Comments Off on Spark Detection

“A mighty flame follows a little spark.”  Dante Alighieri Sparks can cause fires. Good news if you want fire. Bad news if fires, or worse, explosions, are [...]

  • Wait for it! Are Trip Delays Okay? Many safety instrumented functions are deliberately designed to wait before tripping.

Wait For It! Are Trip Delays Okay?

March 8th, 2018|Comments Off on Wait For It! Are Trip Delays Okay?

“But the important thing about learning to wait, I feel sure, is to know what you are waiting for.”  —Anna Neagle Many safety instrumented functions (SIFs) are [...]

Workplace Safety – The Road to Success

March 1st, 2018|Comments Off on Workplace Safety – The Road to Success

“If you put good people in bad systems, you get bad results. You have to water the flowers you want to grow.”  Stephen Covey When you think [...]

Man Down: Knowing When Someone is Hurt

February 22nd, 2018|Comments Off on Man Down: Knowing When Someone is Hurt

“If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them.”  Isaac Asimov We recently facilitated a Process Hazard Analysis (PHA) where the [...]

  • Seven Habits for More Effective PHAs, "Most people would rather have their wisdom teeth extracted without the benefit of anesthesia than sit through a PHA"

Seven Habits for More Effective PHAs

February 15th, 2018|Comments Off on Seven Habits for More Effective PHAs

“Most people would rather have their wisdom teeth extracted without the benefit of anesthesia than sit through a PHA.”  PHAs are tough.  They take focus and energy [...]

  • The Ford Pinto: A Case Against Risk Analysis?

The Ford Pinto

February 8th, 2018|Comments Off on The Ford Pinto

“The Ford Pinto—the barbecue that seats four.” –Johnny Carson This month, February 2018, will be the 40th anniversary of the California jury verdict in the Grimshaw v. [...]

  • S.M.A.R.T. Goals

New Year, New Safety Goals

January 18th, 2018|Comments Off on New Year, New Safety Goals

“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.” Oprah Winfrey With 2017 coming to an end and 2018 just beginning, we’re [...]

  • Number of fatal work injuries by state 2016.

Workplace Fatalities 2016

January 16th, 2018|Comments Off on Workplace Fatalities 2016

Each December, the Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes the final statistics workplace fatalities for the previous year.  The 2016 statistics and chart package came out last month; [...]

Silent Night: Candle Safety This Christmas

December 14th, 2017|Comments Off on Silent Night: Candle Safety This Christmas

“Christmas is a season for kindling the fire for hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.”  Washington Irving Christmas is also the [...]

This Is Not a Drill

December 7th, 2017|Comments Off on This Is Not a Drill

“Air raid, Pearl Harbor. This is not a drill.”  —Lt. Cmdr. Logan Ramsey, 7-Dec-1941 'Beauty' Ramsey sent one of the most famous telegrams of history after watching [...]

Mincing Words

November 16th, 2017|Comments Off on Mincing Words

“If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.”  George Orwell, 1984 We’ve all done it.  We’re talking about something terrible and [...]

A Safety Lifestyle

October 19th, 2017|1 Comment

“We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”  Will Durant In 2006, The Association for Psychological Science published a journal [...]

Mechanical Integrity – Basics

September 14th, 2017|Comments Off on Mechanical Integrity – Basics

“A man who lacks reliability is utterly useless” - Confucius Mechanical Integrity is an essential element of an efficient process and a safe, cost-effective facility. Furthermore, OSHA’s [...]

Getting It Wrong

September 1st, 2017|Comments Off on Getting It Wrong

“Adversity does not build character, it reveals it” -James Lane Allen I have been very interested in what the press has had to say about process safety [...]

Incident Investigations – The Blame Game

July 6th, 2017|Comments Off on Incident Investigations – The Blame Game

“We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.”  Albert Einstein In Incident Investigations: A Guide for Employers, OSHA defines an incident [...]

Zero Bin Entry

June 8th, 2017|Comments Off on Zero Bin Entry

“The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.” – William Gibson I previously wrote about the two grain bin accidents in Nebraska. That blog [...]

Training – A Recommendation

May 30th, 2017|Comments Off on Training – A Recommendation

“It is the sum of our contributions to safety management that determines whether the people we work with live or die.”  Sir Brian Appleton Okay, I’m not [...]

The Gorilla in the Room: Motor Vehicle Fatalities

May 16th, 2017|Comments Off on The Gorilla in the Room: Motor Vehicle Fatalities

“Anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac.”  George Carlin While work-related fatalities are not a significant portion [...]

Operating Procedures – We Need Them

May 2nd, 2017|Comments Off on Operating Procedures – We Need Them

Every part of an organization is dependent on documented procedures to mitigate risk and improve productivity and performance. – Deborah Kenny At Bluefield Process Safety, I have [...]

Defunding the CSB: Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?

April 18th, 2017|Comments Off on Defunding the CSB: Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?

“Defunding the CSB is just plain stupid.”  -Mark Rosenzweig, Editor-in-Chief, Chemical Processing It has been a month since the administration announced a list of 19 independent federal [...]

Enabling: When a helping hand is no help at all

March 23rd, 2017|Comments Off on Enabling: When a helping hand is no help at all

“Stopping enabling isn’t easy. Nor is it for the faint of heart. Aside from likely pushback and possible retaliation, you may also fear the consequences of doing [...]

Safety Lifecycle: The Foundation

February 21st, 2017|Comments Off on Safety Lifecycle: The Foundation

“Without a solid foundation, you’ll have trouble creating anything of value.”  Erika Oppenheimer Recently, I’ve been asked by quite a few clients to walk them through the [...]

Will Trump Reverse the EPA’s Revised RMP Rules?

January 26th, 2017|Comments Off on Will Trump Reverse the EPA’s Revised RMP Rules?

“From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land.”  President Donald J. Trump President Trump just reversed the Obama administration’s rejection of the Keystone XL [...]

Still Higher OSHA Fines

January 20th, 2017|Comments Off on Still Higher OSHA Fines

Just when you were getting used to the new levels of fines from OSHA, they’ve increased again.  The Federal Register just published new fines for the Department [...]

Tolerable Risk, Analysis from a Novice

January 12th, 2017|Comments Off on Tolerable Risk, Analysis from a Novice

“Safety is a common denominator across all aspects of life, hence knowledge should always be shared.  It is not a matter for industry it is a matter [...]

Human Response: What’s It Worth?

January 4th, 2017|Comments Off on Human Response: What’s It Worth?

“Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.”  Napolean Bonaparte Can operator responses to unsafe conditions be considered [...]

Six Ways to Die

December 29th, 2016|Comments Off on Six Ways to Die

“Two Nebraska workers have lost their lives in 2016 in the grain handling industry and far too many preventable fatalities and injuries continue to occur.” Jeff Funke, [...]

Consider

December 6th, 2016|Comments Off on Consider

“There is no greater evil than men’s failure to consult and to consider.”  Sophocles In our office, we write a lot of recommendations.  As a rule, we [...]

Candlelight Services

November 29th, 2016|Comments Off on Candlelight Services

“It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”  Eleanor Roosevelt Every year, late in December, we are greeted with the news of a church [...]

Making the Workplace Safer: OSHA’s Top 10 Citations

November 2nd, 2016|Comments Off on Making the Workplace Safer: OSHA’s Top 10 Citations

“If all employers simply corrected the top 10 hazards, we are confident the number of deaths, amputations and hospitalizations would drastically decline.”  Tom Galassi, director of enforcement [...]

It’s Natural, But Is It Safe?

November 11th, 2022|Comments Off on It’s Natural, But Is It Safe?

“…made from all natural ingredients, so you know it’s safe.”  — Brian Angliss, mocking an advertisement for an ED product I once had a roommate who would [...]

Top 10 OSHA Violations: The Process Industries

October 20th, 2022|Comments Off on Top 10 OSHA Violations: The Process Industries

“The human animal differs from the lesser primates in his passion for lists.”  — H. Allen Smith My first experience with lists was as a child, when [...]

Hearing Protection: Will Earbuds or Headphones Work?

October 13th, 2022|Comments Off on Hearing Protection: Will Earbuds or Headphones Work?

“Hearing loss is a terrible thing because it cannot be repaired.”  — Pete Townshend “Why not?” The young operator had just asked if they could wear earbuds [...]

HazWOpER: What is an Emergency?

October 6th, 2022|Comments Off on HazWOpER: What is an Emergency?

“I don’t worry about a zombie apocalypse. Mainly because it’s unlikely, but also because I think I’d be pretty good in that type of emergency.”  — Sarah [...]

Time for Change: Revising the Elements of PSM

September 29th, 2022|Comments Off on Time for Change: Revising the Elements of PSM

“The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.”  — Charles Kettering I just got notice from OSHA that I am registered [...]

Just Two Breaths

September 15th, 2022|Comments Off on Just Two Breaths

“I love to breath. Oxygen is sexy.”  — Kris Carr How long can you hold your breath? One minute? Two minutes? Pearl divers have been known to [...]

The Shipping News

August 25th, 2022|Comments Off on The Shipping News

“Eighty thousand pounds of muscle, blood, and steel in a pile. It’s spectacular.”  — Gary Williams No plant in the chemical process industries wants to make the [...]

I Can’t Breathe: Asphyxia in the Process Industries

August 18th, 2022|Comments Off on I Can’t Breathe: Asphyxia in the Process Industries

“Suffocation is a cruel way to go.”  — Arlaina Tibensky I usually think of process safety hazards as being related to fire, explosions, or toxic releases. There [...]

Just Water? Process Hazards of H2O

August 11th, 2022|Comments Off on 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 [...]

Accidental Release Reporting: Data from the CSB

August 4th, 2022|Comments Off on 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. [...]

Not Just PPE—The Right PPE!

July 28th, 2022|Comments Off on 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 [...]