Are Boilers PSM-Covered? Maybe, Maybe Not

“It’s very hard for all of us, when we’ve committed ourselves to a particular interpretation, to change our minds.”  — Donald Johanson We were recently asked if a steam boiler was a PSM-covered process. The answer seemed obvious. No, steam boilers, themselves, are not covered under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Process Safety Management [...]

By |2022-05-19T15:16:51+00:00May 19th, 2022|Process Safety, Process Safety Management|0 Comments

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

Going to a Safe State: De-energize to Trip

“You may hate gravity, but gravity doesn’t care.”  — Clayton Christensen In May 1946, a scientist at Los Alamos was demonstrating the criticality of plutonium. The demonstration consisted of lowering the upper hemisphere of a spherical shell around a mass of plutonium. As he lowered it, however, it slipped and completed the spherical shell, causing [...]

Probability of Failure: Power Transformer Reliability

“At the end of this day, one shall stand, one shall fall.”  — Optimus Prime, Transformers: The Movie I have never been to a process plant that could continue running without electrical power. So, it is not uncommon to see a plant with two separate electrical feeds, each with their own transformers. On most days, [...]

By |2022-04-07T15:42:32+00:00April 7th, 2022|PHA, Process Safety, Workplace Safety|0 Comments

Power Failures: Back-Up Generator Reliability

“With a purposeful grimace and a terrible sound, he pulls the spitting high tension wires down.”  — Buck Dharma, Blue Öyster Cult The preferred design of a safety function is one that deenergizes to trip. That is, a function that goes to the safe state when all sources of energy have been removed. The probability [...]

Occupancy: Getting It Right

“I don’t worry about the bullet with my name on it. Can’t do anything about that. It’s the bullet addressed to ‘Occupant’ that I worry about.”  — Drew Schmidt I don’t get as much junk mail as I used to.  Now, I get junk emails and junk texts. When I do get junk mail, however, [...]

By |2022-03-10T18:38:15+00:00March 10th, 2022|PHA, Process Safety, Process Safety Management|0 Comments

Process Safety: Making Promises We Can’t Keep?

“Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these courageous couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”  — Herodotus In 1912, one of the architects working on what is now known as the James A. Farley Building at the corner of Eighth Avenue and 33rd Street in Manhattan convinced the [...]

Process Risk: Learning from Experience

“We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.”  — John Dewey There are too many celebrities and philosophers to count who have talked about the importance of their mistakes in shaping them. Many seem quite pleased, even proud, of the mistakes they’ve made and their ability to rise from them and go [...]

By |2022-02-24T14:56:55+00:00February 24th, 2022|PHA, Process Safety, Workplace Safety|0 Comments

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

The Supreme Court and Process Safety

“That is not to say OSHA lacks authority to regulate occupation-specific risks related to COVID–19.”  — Brett Kavanaugh It’s not often that the courts weigh in on safety issues. Thank goodness. As Sidney Dekker points out in his book, Just Culture, the involvement of the justice system is bad for safety. It leads to less [...]

By |2022-01-20T15:41:13+00:00January 20th, 2022|Current Events, Process Safety, Workplace Safety|0 Comments
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