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.

Everyone Gets a Prize: Employee Participation

“Nor should participation trophies be offered for simply showing up.”  — Kevin Dickenson OSHA is fond of pointing out that the Process Safety Management Standard, 29 CFR-1910.119 (PSM), is a performance-based standard.  While they generally avoid telling us how to comply with standard, they expect us to comply with standard, nonetheless.  There is no prize [...]

By |2019-12-12T15:11:38+00:00December 12th, 2019|Procedures, Process Safety Management|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|0 Comments

A Fatal Cleaning Incident: Familiarity Breeds …

“While devastated at this unimaginable loss, we are so very proud that Ryan died while trying to protect his fellow employees and restaurant patrons.”  — family of Ryan Baldera On November 7, 2019, a restaurant employee in Burlington, Massachusetts was overcome by fumes from a “strong chemical cleaning agent” and died. Thirteen others were taken [...]

By |2019-11-14T17:48:11+00:00November 14th, 2019|Chemicals, Current Events, Workplace Safety|0 Comments

Out of the Blocks: Credit for Human Response

“Fear is often our immediate response to uncertainty.”  — Gabrielle Bernstein In 2001, when the CCPS book, Layer of Protection Analysis: Simplified Process Risk Assessment, “the purple book”, stated that human response is “a relatively weak protection layer” and “less reliable than engineering controls”, many people were willing to accept that piece of conventional wisdom. [...]

Dia de los Muertos: Remembering the Dead

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  — George Santayana Our offices on Cherokee Street exist in the midst of a vibrant Hispanic community. So here in our neighborhood, Dia de los Muertos is in getting in full swing and will be observed through November 2. Dia de los Muertos, the [...]

Size Matters: Sampling for PSM Compliance Audits

“Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable.”  — Oscar G. Foellinger, 1927 As an engineering student, I once used empirical data to solve a design problem. The approach gave a reasonable answer, but my professor scolded me. “Mere curve fitting,” he sneered. “Good engineering requires working from first principles.” I didn’t agree then, [...]

By |2019-10-24T15:20:35+00:00October 24th, 2019|Process Safety|0 Comments

We’re Not Wizards

“But how they can be charged with negligence because they were not wizards, appellant’s brief does not make clear.”  — Osmond K. Fraenkel, successfully arguing before the New York Supreme Court, 1935 In a world where companies tout “Zero Incidents,” not as an aspirational definition of perfect safety, but as a measurable and achievable target, [...]

Fools Rush In: What We Really Expect

“For Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread.”  — Alexander Pope I once led some process safety training that involved people from several different plants from around the world. After almost a week together, the people in the training became pretty comfortable with one another.  One of the last topics of the training was [...]

By |2019-10-10T14:13:31+00:00October 10th, 2019|Procedures, Workplace Safety|0 Comments

Changing the Bet: The Safety Experience

“When you gamble with safety, you bet your life.”  Slogan on an industrial entrance mat The biggest obstacle to getting people to heed safety training is that unsafe behavior does not result in certain death. The problem with a safety slogan like, “When you gamble with safety, you bet your life,” is that most people, [...]

By |2019-10-03T14:19:21+00:00October 3rd, 2019|Training, Workplace Safety|0 Comments

Someone Else’s Experience

“Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.”  — C.S.Lewis We all learn from experience. When it comes to brutal lessons, though, it is better to learn from someone else’s experience.  In the course of our work, clients have shared some experiences with us that everyone can learn from.  [...]

By |2019-09-26T13:14:16+00:00September 26th, 2019|Process Safety, Workplace Safety|0 Comments