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 of the architects working on what is now known as the James A. Farley Building at the corner of Eighth Avenue and 33rd Street in Manhattan convinced the [...]

By |2022-03-03T15:38:40+00:00March 3rd, 2022|Current Events, Process Safety, Process Safety Management|Comments Off on Process Safety: Making Promises We Can’t Keep?

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 safety issues. Thank goodness. As Sidney Dekker points out in his book, Just Culture, the involvement of the justice system is bad for safety. It leads to less [...]

By |2022-01-20T15:41:13+00:00January 20th, 2022|Current Events, Process Safety, Workplace Safety|Comments Off on The Supreme Court and Process Safety

Death in La Porte: Glacial Acetic Acid is Not Vinegar

“I attach a Material Safety Data Sheet for the safe handling of table salt as required by a governmental agency. One could wax sarcastically about this travesty suggesting that next we will be faced with recommendations for handling sugar or even water. Certainly, something is out of control!”  — Harley W. Rhodehamel, in constituent letter [...]

By |2021-07-30T00:17:31+00:00July 29th, 2021|Chemicals, Current Events, Process Safety|Comments Off on Death in La Porte: Glacial Acetic Acid is Not Vinegar

Slightly Flammable? Low GWP Refrigerants and PSM

“You can’t get a little bit pregnant, son.”  — Hal Holbrook as Lou Mannheim in Wall Street, (1987) A whole new group of processes are about to become PSM-covered. Maybe. Some HVAC contractors have begun warning their customers that the new low-GWP refrigerants that they must switch to are “slightly flammable”, so may come under [...]

By |2021-05-13T14:04:07+00:00May 13th, 2021|Current Events, Gas, Process Safety, Process Safety Management|Comments Off on Slightly Flammable? Low GWP Refrigerants and PSM

Out of Harm’s Way: Using Drones to Fight Chemical Plant Fires

“Running toward danger is foolhardy. But so is closing your eyes to it. Many perils become less dangerous once you understand their potential hazards.”  — Brandon Mull On Thursday, April 29, at about 2:30 pm, neighbors reported several explosions at the Manor Chemical Company in Affton, Missouri, a suburb on the southwest side of St. [...]

By |2021-05-06T14:59:54+00:00May 6th, 2021|Chemicals, Current Events, Workplace Safety|Comments Off on Out of Harm’s Way: Using Drones to Fight Chemical Plant Fires

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 at the OPC Polymers unit of the Yenkin-Majestic Paint facility in Columbus, Ohio. One employee died, five employees were hospitalized, and four others were also injured. “But it’s [...]

By |2021-04-15T18:05:18+00:00April 15th, 2021|Chemicals, Current Events, Process Safety, Process Safety Management|Comments Off on Just Paint? Fire and Explosion in Ohio

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 is really, really cold, so it is great for flash freezing delicate items. When vaporized, it helps maintain non-flammable mixtures, even when flammable vapors are present. Because it [...]

By |2021-02-07T00:13:50+00:00February 4th, 2021|Chemicals, Current Events, Workplace Safety|Comments Off on Simple Asphyxiation: The Tragedy in Gainesville

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 wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and what many would argue has been an abysmal response to that catastrophe, there has been much said about the politicization of public [...]

By |2021-01-28T22:50:45+00:00January 28th, 2021|Current Events, Workplace Safety|Comments Off on Politicizing Workplace Safety

“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 would fail and the boiler would explode.”  ‑ Hedy Lamarr, inventor and actor We’ve been blowing up boilers since the dawn of the industrial revolution. By now, you’d think [...]

By |2020-12-19T17:24:13+00:00December 17th, 2020|Chemicals, Current Events, Process Safety, Process Safety Management|Comments Off on “Expanded” PSM Coverage: What Has Changed?

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 semester closes, one of my students asked me what I thought personally about safety. He graduates in a couple of weeks, and went on to ask, “What is [...]

By |2020-12-03T16:09:57+00:00December 3rd, 2020|Current Events, Workplace Safety|Comments Off on Dear Austin: Is It Going to Get Better?
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