About Mike Schmidt

With a career in the CPI that began in 1977 with Union Carbide, Mike was profoundly impacted by the 1984 tragedy in Bhopal and has been working on process safety ever since.

Seven Habits for More Effective PHAs

“Most people would rather have their wisdom teeth extracted without the benefit of anesthesia than sit through a PHA.”  PHAs are tough.  They take focus and energy and they take people away from their regular jobs, which don’t go away just because they are in a PHA. Yet, like good dental hygiene, no one thinks [...]

By | 2018-02-15T14:30:36+00:00 February 15th, 2018|PHA, Process Safety Management|0 Comments

The Ford Pinto

“The Ford Pinto—the barbecue that seats four.” –Johnny Carson This month, February 2018, will be the 40th anniversary of the California jury verdict in the Grimshaw v. Ford Motor Co. case. The jury awarded Richard Grimshaw $2,516,000 in compensatory damages and $125,000,000 in punitive damages, although the trial judge reduced the punitive damages to $3,500,000. [...]

By | 2018-02-08T14:38:29+00:00 February 8th, 2018|Current Events, Risk Assessment|0 Comments

Settling for More: Will a Grain Explosion Lead to Greater Safety?

“Issuance of this Citation does not constitute a finding that a violation of the Act has occurred.”  —from OSHA Citation and Notification of Penalty On October 29, 2011, a grain elevator explosion in Atchison, Kansas killed six men—four employees and two grain inspectors. OSHA cited the Bartlett Grain Company’s facility and proposed a fine of [...]

By | 2018-01-19T13:56:54+00:00 January 11th, 2018|Combustible Dust, Current Events|0 Comments

So I Know You Understand: Training Verification

“I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”  —Alan Greenspan I once heard a young operator complain, “All we do around here is safety training. Nobody understands half of it and the other half is just common [...]

Silent Night: Candle Safety This Christmas

“Christmas is a season for kindling the fire for hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.”  Washington Irving Christmas is also the season for crackling fires in the fire place and carols sung by candlelight.  Unfortunately, Christmas is the season for the rare but devastating church fire, when a church [...]

By | 2017-12-14T15:09:48+00:00 December 14th, 2017|Current Events|0 Comments

This Is Not a Drill

“Air raid, Pearl Harbor. This is not a drill.”  —Lt. Cmdr. Logan Ramsey, 7-Dec-1941 'Beauty' Ramsey sent one of the most famous telegrams of history after watching a Japanese dive bomber’s payload detonate in Pearl Harbor. Other telegrams went out that morning, from the Navy Yard and Kaneohe, but they were largely ignored until smoke [...]

Mincing Words

“If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.”  George Orwell, 1984 We’ve all done it.  We’re talking about something terrible and rather than calling it what it is, we choose words that are softer, less harsh.  Or we call it something that completely hides our meaning. Instead of talking [...]

By | 2017-11-16T14:26:29+00:00 November 16th, 2017|Process Safety, Risk Assessment, Workplace Safety|0 Comments

Hope You Won’t Have to Use It: Fire Extinguisher Inspections

“The cleverest of all, in my opinion, is the man who calls himself a fool at least once a month.”  Fyodor Dostoevsky OSHA does not require fire extinguishers. Not in most work places. The fire extinguishers that are in most work places are there because of insurance requirements. To use a fire extinguisher requires going [...]

By | 2017-09-21T13:40:34+00:00 September 21st, 2017|Workplace Safety|0 Comments

Getting It Wrong

“Adversity does not build character, it reveals it” -James Lane Allen I have been very interested in what the press has had to say about process safety issues following Hurricane Harvey. I was also very gratified when the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) put out a warning that start-up was one the most dangerous operations [...]

By | 2018-01-26T19:36:56+00:00 September 1st, 2017|Current Events, Process Safety|0 Comments

Red Shirts: Reducing Occupancy to Reduce Risk

“Red Shirt: In Star Trek, red-uniformed security officers and engineers who accompany the main characters on landing parties who often suffer quick deaths.[”  Wikipedia I didn’t see the NBC television series, Star Trek, until it went into syndication, when it became a staple of television viewing for everyone I knew while I was in college. [...]