Close to the Edge: Banking, Railroads, and…the Chemical Industry?

“Banking should be boring.”  — Senator Elizabeth Warren We tend to celebrate those adventurers who take big risks for the chance at big rewards, at least when it pays off. On the other hand, we tend to condemn those that take big risks but don’t suffer the consequences when their risk-taking doesn’t pay off. Especially [...]

Second Look: Keeping P&IDs Up to Date

“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.“  -Martin Luther King, Jr. Many events and activities in life require planning, like saving up for a vacation or setting aside time to catch up with friends and colleagues. Industrial processes are no different. Blueprints, technical manuals, and procedures lay [...]

By |2023-03-16T15:45:47+00:00March 16th, 2023|PHA, Process Safety|0 Comments

Fire: What’s In a Name

“The name is the thing, and the true name is the true thing. To speak the name is to control the thing.”  — Ursala K. Le Guin, The Rule of Names Process safety has three concerns: fires, explosions, and toxic releases. The most ancient of these concerns is fire. Because fire has been our servant [...]

By |2023-03-10T15:10:13+00:00March 10th, 2023|Gas, Process Safety, Process Safety Management|Comments Off on Fire: What’s In a Name

Derailments: How a Process Safety Perspective Can Prevent Them

“Luck is not an acceptable substitute for early detection.”  — Valerie Harper Three weeks after the Norfolk Southern (NS) derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, the well-meaning editorial board at the Washington Post published an editorial on “how to fix freight rail.” They consulted with a variety of transportation experts to come up with four recommendations: [...]

By |2023-03-02T18:12:24+00:00March 2nd, 2023|Chemicals, Current Events, Process Safety|Comments Off on Derailments: How a Process Safety Perspective Can Prevent Them

Ventilation: What is Adequate?

“There is nothing that this age, from whatever standpoint we survey it, needs more, physically, intellectually, and morally, than thorough ventilation.”  — John Ruskin I worked on a project once that required me to spend a lot of time in the control building. It was a substantial building with a kitchen and breakroom, several offices, [...]

By |2023-02-23T16:51:53+00:00February 23rd, 2023|Process Safety, Workplace Safety|Comments Off on Ventilation: What is Adequate?

What Can We Do? The Derailment in East Palestine, Ohio

“People just don’t sue doctors they really like.”  — Alice Burkin, plaintiff’s attorney Nice doctors get sued less. On the other hand, “evil corporations” are far more likely to be sued for their mistakes, or as lawyers describe it, their “negligence.” And in the consciousness of many Americans, there are few corporations more categorically evil [...]

By |2023-02-16T18:25:02+00:00February 16th, 2023|Chemicals, Current Events, Process Safety|Comments Off on What Can We Do? The Derailment in East Palestine, Ohio

Preventing Profit Over Safety: OSHA’s New Reliance on Penalties

“OSHA has issued new enforcement guidance to make its penalties more effective in stopping employers from repeatedly exposing workers to life-threatening hazards or failing to comply with certain workplace safety and health requirements.”  — Department of Labor press release, January 26, 2023 There are two common complaints about OSHA citations and fines after a fatal [...]

By |2023-02-02T15:41:50+00:00February 2nd, 2023|Current Events, Process Safety, Workplace Safety|Comments Off on Preventing Profit Over Safety: OSHA’s New Reliance on Penalties

Just Right: Hazardous (Classified) Locations

“My life experience confirms that the U.S. government frequently overclassifies data.”  — Michael Hayden When it comes hazardous (classified) locations—electrical classification—even seemingly sophisticated technical facilities often get it wrong. The issue isn’t with the class, or the group, but with the division. Getting the division wrong, though, can render a facility more hazardous than it should [...]

By |2023-01-26T16:45:23+00:00January 26th, 2023|Chemicals, Combustible Dust, Process Safety|Comments Off on Just Right: Hazardous (Classified) Locations

Exhaust Ducts: When Safeguards Have Their Own Hazards

“The guard shall be such that it does not offer an accident hazard in itself.”  — 29 CFR 1910.212(a)(2) Machine guarding It’s hard to imagine any safeguard that doesn’t pose its own burden. Safety shoes are heavy and make a worker less nimble. Side shields on safety glasses impair peripheral vision. Interlocks introduce the prospect [...]

By |2023-01-19T16:56:25+00:00January 19th, 2023|Process Safety, Workplace Safety|Comments Off on Exhaust Ducts: When Safeguards Have Their Own Hazards

Using CSB Incident Reporting to Spot Trends: Will We Do It?

“You can have data without information, but you cannot have information without data.”  — Daniel Keys Moran Last summer, we talked about the Chemical Safety Board’s compilation of incident data since their reporting rule became effective in March 2020. Companies experiencing catastrophic releases that result in one or more fatalities, one or more in-patient hospitalizations, [...]

By |2023-01-12T16:12:05+00:00January 12th, 2023|Chemicals, Current Events, Process Safety, Workplace Safety|Comments Off on Using CSB Incident Reporting to Spot Trends: Will We Do It?
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