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 seen the photographs of demolished grain elevators, of the Imperial Sugar plant in Port Wentworth, Georgia looking like the Dresden firebombing in World War II. You’ve heard about [...]

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.”  — James Gandolfini I’ve been struck recently by how much we don’t talk about process safety once the hazardous chemicals we make have been loaded and shipped. Process Hazard [...]

By |2021-02-18T17:00:43+00:00February 18th, 2021|Chemicals, PHA, Process Safety, Process Safety Management|0 Comments

Operator Errors: Are They Really Design Errors?

“To err is human, to forgive, divine.”  — Alexander Pope I was in a PHA once where the lone operator on the PHA team finally grew weary of the discussion of operator error.  “Why is it that when you engineers make a mistake, you call it design error, but when I make a mistake, you [...]

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 save time with minimal risks. Look at how we consume entertainment.  The NFL Red Zone is popular since it gives fans a continual highlight reel of their favorite [...]

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 a brilliant plant design, poorly operated and maintained. A pre-startup safety review (PSSR) is OSHA’s way of starting a facility down the path toward brilliant operation and maintenance. [...]

“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 [...]

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 the ones who are willing to make recommendations when you ask.  Anything but, “Well, everything is good.” Because, admit it, everything is not. And then, when you try [...]

By |2020-09-17T13:49:36+00:00September 17th, 2020|PHA, Process Safety Management, Recommendations|0 Comments

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 of turmoil. She keeps picking the wrong guys and each relationship ends in heartbreak. “Why do I keep making the same mistake over and over?” Why indeed? I [...]

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 as suggestions; they don’t see a full stop is either required or expected. And this isn’t just young hooligans in muscle cars. It includes little old ladies in [...]

By |2020-07-23T14:39:39+00:00July 23rd, 2020|Process Safety, Process Safety Management|0 Comments

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 people want to be safe. The challenge then, is to make them safer than they want to be. The Law of Conservation of Recklessness There is not officially [...]

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