The Chemical Process Industries: Getting Safer?

“My first customer was a lunatic. My second had a death wish.”  — Karl Benz We want to get safer. We invest enormous resources in making the world a safer place. Sometimes, though, it doesn’t seem like we’re making much progress, especially when we’ve just experienced a catastrophic event. Instead, it seems like we just [...]

By |2022-05-26T15:55:08+00:00May 26th, 2022|Process Safety, Workplace Safety|Comments Off on The Chemical Process Industries: Getting Safer?

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|Comments Off on Probability of Failure: Power Transformer Reliability

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 [...]

By |2022-03-31T16:56:04+00:00March 31st, 2022|PHA, Process Safety, Process Safety Management, Workplace Safety|Comments Off on Power Failures: Back-Up Generator Reliability

Safety in a Time of War

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower A safety professional I know recently looked at the photo above and commented, “Does that look safe?” Any [...]

By |2022-03-24T18:12:41+00:00March 24th, 2022|Current Events, Process Safety, Workplace Safety|Comments Off on Safety in a Time of War

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|Comments Off on Process Risk: Learning from Experience

Cooking with Love: Multitasking in the Control Room

“There is time enough for everything in the course of the day, if you do but one thing at once, but there is not time enough in the year, if you will do two things at one time.”  — Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield When our children were young, we ate a lot of [...]

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|Comments Off on The Supreme Court and Process Safety

Work-Related Fatalities in the Year of Covid

“Maybe this virus has a silver lining.”  — Katherine Plumhoff The Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its workplace safety statistics for the previous year each December. The injury, illness, and fatality statistics for 2020 – The Year of Covid – just came out. The total number of work-related fatalities in 2020 fell to 4,764, over [...]

By |2021-12-30T17:52:35+00:00December 30th, 2021|Workplace Safety|Comments Off on Work-Related Fatalities in the Year of Covid

E-Stops: The “Get Fired Button”

“Panic is a natural response to danger, but it’s one that severely compounds the risk.”  — David Ignatius At 2:30 am, on Saturday, October 2, 2021, a split in the San Pedro Bay Pipeline began discharging oil into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California. Low pressure alarms in the control room indicated that there [...]

By |2021-11-18T14:52:54+00:00November 18th, 2021|Procedures, Process Safety, Process Safety Management, Workplace Safety|Comments Off on E-Stops: The “Get Fired Button”

Speed Of Thought

The degree of slowness is directionally proportional to the intensity of memory. The degree of speed is directionally proportional to the intensity of forgetting.” ― Milan Kundera, Slowness Every industry uses speed as a measurement to quantify productivity.  That productivity, whether gallons or railcar loads, is a tangible result that translates into revenue for a company.  Speed [...]

By |2021-10-07T14:55:38+00:00October 7th, 2021|PHA, Process Safety, Workplace Safety|Comments Off on Speed Of Thought
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