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

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

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?

Steam or Hot Oil: Which Is Safer?

“I have always fancied that the end of the world will be when some enormous boiler, heated to three thousand millions of atmospheric pressure, shall explode and blow up the globe… They [the Americans] are great boiler makers.”  — Jules Verne I was recently asked about using hot oil instead of steam to heat process [...]

By |2021-07-22T15:20:05+00:00July 22nd, 2021|Chemicals, Process Safety, Process Safety Management|Comments Off on Steam or Hot Oil: Which Is Safer?

DHAs: An OSHA Requirement?

“Speed limit 55. It’s not just a good idea. It’s the law.”  — Advertising Council and U.S. Department of Transportation (1977) Ever since the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) published the 2019 Edition of NFPA 652, Standard on the Fundamentals of Combustible Dust, which states in §7.1.1.2 that a Dust Hazard Analysis (DHA) must be [...]

By |2021-04-29T16:43:06+00:00April 29th, 2021|Combustible Dust, Process Safety, Process Safety Management|Comments Off on DHAs: An OSHA Requirement?

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

Don’t Want No Static

“Electricity can be dangerous. My nephew tried to stick a penny into a plug. Whoever said a penny doesn’t go far didn’t see him shoot across that floor. I told him he was grounded.”  — Tim Allen When I was fresh out of grad school, I had a job in process development. One project involved [...]

By |2021-03-18T13:47:50+00:00March 18th, 2021|Combustible Dust, Process Safety, Process Safety Management|Comments Off on Don’t Want No Static

“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?

Insanity: Another Ammonium Nitrate Explosion

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” — First said by an anonymous member of Al-Anon in Knoxville, Tennessee I have a dream. In my dream, following a terrible chemical disaster that mimics other terrible chemical disasters, officials don’t wring their hands and talk about how their thoughts [...]

By |2020-08-13T19:40:57+00:00August 13th, 2020|Chemicals, Current Events|Comments Off on Insanity: Another Ammonium Nitrate Explosion

What We Know: Another Explosion in Houston

“All I know is what I read in the papers.”  — Will Rogers When there is a catastrophic release of highly hazardous chemicals, I want to know about it. I want to know what happened, why it happened, and what I can learn to keep it from happening again. I go to news accounts. All [...]

By |2020-02-03T20:35:41+00:00January 30th, 2020|Chemicals, Current Events, Workplace Safety|Comments Off on What We Know: Another Explosion in Houston
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