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 [...]

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?

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

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|Comments Off on Process Design and Hazard Review: They Are Not the Same
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