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.

For Engineering Students: Some Unsolicited Advice

“Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.” – Albert Einstein My day job is process safety engineer, but I also teach two evening courses as an adjunct professor. In that role, I was asked by a student group to speak on “How to get good grades and how to [...]

By | 2019-08-15T13:57:59+00:00 August 15th, 2019|Current Events|0 Comments

H21: Is Hydrogen a Safe Fuel?

“The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity.” - Harlan Ellison I first learned about H21, the project to convert the fuel gas distribution system in the North of England from natural gas to hydrogen, at a safety conference where I gave a talk on containing hydrogen deflagrations within pressure vessels. [...]

By | 2019-08-08T14:23:25+00:00 August 8th, 2019|Chemicals, Gas|0 Comments

One Small Step

“If we can put a man on the moon, why can’t we…”  — Nearly Everyone Fifty years ago, humans first walked on the moon. It was and remains a remarkable and courageous feat of technology and determination. Having achieved it, though, most of society lost interest and moved on. Humans haven’t been back on the [...]

By | 2019-07-18T13:47:20+00:00 July 18th, 2019|Current Events, Process Safety|0 Comments

Yes, But…Hardware Fault Tolerance

“Therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Universita Committeeatum E Pluribus Unum, I hereby confer upon you the honorary degree of Th.D.,… er, ‘Doctor of Thinkology’.”  —The Wizard of Oz Most of our readers understand that for a Safety Instrumented Function—a SIF—to have a particular Safety Integrity Level—a SIL—its Average Probability [...]

A Process Safety Hat Trick

“I hated being pregnant, but I never minded being in labor.  I knew I would get a prize at the end.”  — Chris Schmidt, mother of four Things have been a little crazy in Saint Louis for the past week. Founded in 1967, the Blues Hockey Club has finally won a Stanley Cup. Everyone feels [...]

As Safe as You Want to Be

“If the government wanted people to drive safely, they’d mandate a spike in the middle of each steering wheel.”  — Gordon Tullock We call economics “the dismal science.” Economist Gordon Tullock certainly reinforced that idea when he applied the economic phenomena of risk compensation to driving safety and suggested that we would all drive more [...]

By | 2019-06-06T15:27:00+00:00 June 6th, 2019|Workplace Safety|0 Comments

SIL Certification: Necessary or Sufficient?

“Contrary to what many parents tell their children, talent and hard work are neither necessary nor sufficient for economic success.”  —Robert H. Frank We are all guilty of telling tales we know to be untrue in order to encourage virtuous behavior. Parents tell their children to be good so Santa Clause will come. OSHA tells [...]

By | 2019-05-23T16:10:03+00:00 May 23rd, 2019|Process Safety|0 Comments

Doing HazOps the RIGHT Way!

“Watching two engineers argue is like watching pigs wallow in mud. Eventually you figure out that they do it because they like to.”  — Anonymous I’m still learning better ways to do HazOps. And since there are better ways, then what I am doing now couldn’t possibly be the best. So, what is the RIGHT [...]

By | 2019-05-16T13:53:51+00:00 May 16th, 2019|PHA, Procedures, Process Safety|0 Comments

Lab Safety: A Three Phase System

“A pint of sweat will save a gallon of blood.”  George S. Patton, Jr. I intended to begin with “A good plan, well executed, is better than a perfect plan, poorly executed,” but when I checked, that’s not what General Patton said.  What he said was “A good plan, violently executed now, is better than [...]

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 [...]