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 [...]

Piling On: One More Safeguard?

“Some safety professionals, in the name of ‘zero-injuries’, will heap regulation after regulation on a job until the organization rebels and simply refuses to comply.”  — Phil La Duke There was a time when getting ready for winter meant making sure you had enough firewood to heat your cabin until spring. If you didn’t, your [...]

By |2021-12-02T15:08:52+00:00December 2nd, 2021|PHA, Process Safety, Process Safety Management|0 Comments

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 [...]

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

Breaking the Law: Conservation of Recklessness

“Be afraid. Be very afraid.”  — Geena Davis as Veronica Quaife in The Fly, directed by David Cronenburg Try as we might, we safety professionals cannot make people want to be safe. The challenge then, is to make them safer than they want to be. The Law of Conservation of Recklessness There is not officially [...]

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

Things We Worry About: Celebratory Gunfire

“[It’s the] wild west in Dutchtown to ring in the new year. :(”  — Jennie Foster on Nextdoor In my neighborhood, you don’t need a clock or a countdown on television to know the approach of the new year. You just need to listen to the intensity of the gunfire. The random shots start around [...]

By |2020-01-02T14:39:49+00:00January 2nd, 2020|Current Events|0 Comments

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

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 [...]

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