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|0 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|0 Comments

Eternal Vigilance: Proof Tests are Essential to Safety

“But, after all, no safeguards are adequate, unless the will to give effect to them fully is present.”  — Jawaharial Nehru I had a truly embarrassing experience a couple days ago. I got a flat tire. The flat tire itself wasn’t embarrassing.  Annoying, yes, but not embarrassing. There are road hazards, and even the most [...]

KISS: Keep It Simple = Safety

“Simplicity is prerequisite for reliability.”  — Edsger Dijkstra For most of my life, I have struggled to keep down to a healthy weight. It didn’t help when someone told me, “Losing weight is simple. Eat less.” When I protested, they replied, “I said it was simple. I didn’t say it was easy.” The safest plant [...]

By |2022-02-03T16:03:10+00:00February 3rd, 2022|PHA, Process Safety|0 Comments

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 [...]

Batch Processes: Consider a Procedural HazOp

“We know we need civilization and laws and procedures, but isn’t it frustrating? Wouldn’t it be great if we could just do what we needed to do?”  — Lee Child When someone thinks about a Process Hazard Analysis, a PHA, they usually think about a Hazard and Operability Review, a HazOp. And when they think [...]

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 [...]

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