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 [...]

The Dose Makes the Poison

“All things are poison, and nothing is without poison; the dosage alone makes it so a thing is not a poison.”  — Paracelsus Have you ever noticed that news accounts about incidents in the process industries never talk about “chemicals”? No, the writer always refers to “toxic chemicals”. As though you can’t say one without [...]

By |2021-03-25T16:18:42+00:00March 25th, 2021|Chemicals, Process Safety|0 Comments

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 [...]

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

Simple Asphyxiation: The Tragedy in Gainesville

“It is these properties that make materials so useful that also pose hazards to health and property.”  — Peter Lodal Liquid nitrogen has some wonderful properties. It is really, really cold, so it is great for flash freezing delicate items. When vaporized, it helps maintain non-flammable mixtures, even when flammable vapors are present. Because it [...]

By |2021-02-07T00:13:50+00:00February 4th, 2021|Chemicals, Current Events, Workplace Safety|0 Comments

Pool Fires

“Build a man a fire, and he’ll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life.”  — Terry Pratchett The most common fire in a process plant is a pool fire. A pool of flammable liquid, something that exists normally or, more likely, something [...]

By |2021-01-08T17:48:33+00:00January 8th, 2021|Chemicals, Process Safety|0 Comments

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

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|0 Comments

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do: HazOp Nodes

“Come on, baby, let’s start anew, ‘cause breaking up is hard to do.”  — Neil Sedaka Before a HazOp team ever assembles, the facilitator has some important tasks to complete: get agreement with management on the scope of the review, identify the boundaries of the study, and break the process up into nodes.  And breaking [...]

By |2020-01-09T16:34:36+00:00January 9th, 2020|PHA, Procedures, Process Safety Management|1 Comment
Go to Top