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 misallocation of resources. The leading cause of work-related fatalities is transportation, at about 40%. The next three (of seven causes identified by the Bureau of Labor Statistics), all [...]

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 Safety (GCPS), PSM experts from OSHA observed that while it is common to see a mechanical integrity (MI) program listed as a safeguard in a PHA, this is [...]

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 [...]

How Likely? Your Guess is As Good As…

“For what it's worth, a good streak doesn't jinx you, and a bad one, unfortunately, does not mean better luck is in store.”  — Leonard Mlodinow When someone tells you that they took a calculated risk, they almost certainly are not speaking the truth, to you or to themselves. That’s because there were almost certainly [...]

By |2020-11-05T14:30:31+00:00November 5th, 2020|Process Safety, Risk Assessment|1 Comment

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 we pick wrong? There is no shortage of people ready to tell us. It is always helpful to have criteria for choosing, or to be honest, to justify [...]

Inconceivable: Unrecognized Hazards

“You keep using that word.  I do not think it means what you think it means.”  - Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya, in The Princess Bride I find the phrase “While we never anticipate a loss of cabin pressure…” incredibly annoying.  To anticipate means to think of something that will or might happen in the [...]

By |2019-12-05T14:08:07+00:00December 5th, 2019|Process Safety, Risk Assessment, Safety Lifecycle|1 Comment

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 New York Supreme Court, 1935 In a world where companies tout “Zero Incidents,” not as an aspirational definition of perfect safety, but as a measurable and achievable target, [...]

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 a perfect plan, poorly executed,” but when I checked, that’s not what General Patton said.  What he said was “A good plan, violently executed now, is better than [...]

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 of the potential for travel to the moon. It’s always easier to say something is impossible than to address the potential of it happening. Double Jeopardy When someone [...]

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” doesn’t really mean what we think it means and it confuses people. More often than not, the term is an obstacle to good analysis, not an aid. What [...]

By |2019-03-07T16:12:24+00:00March 7th, 2019|PHA, Process Safety, Risk Assessment|0 Comments
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