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.

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 [...]

Notre-Dame Burning: Don’t Wait for the Fire

“If your house were burning down and you could take away one thing, what would it be?”…”I’d take the fire.” — Jean Cocteau, interviewed by André Fraigneau The images of the Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral burning broke my heart. I am grateful that people and organizations around the world have vowed to contribute to the [...]

By | 2019-04-18T13:28:58+00:00 April 18th, 2019|Current Events, Workplace Safety|0 Comments

An Incident? Don’t Recommend Training!

“It’s not how we make mistakes, but how we correct them that defines us.”  — Rachel Wolchin One of the most common recommendations made as a result of incident safety investigations is “improved training,” especially when the investigation concludes that the incident was the result of an error. It is not because training is so [...]

“No Harm, No Foul”: Madness

“As they depend, not upon the agent, but upon fortune, they cannot be the proper foundation for any sentiment” — Adam Smith We all believe that people should follow safety rules all the time. Not because there is a harmful outcome every time someone violates a safety rule or commits an unsafe act. Because usually [...]

Setting Limits: Where Does Your PSM-Covered Process End?

“Human genius has limits, but stupidity does not.”  — Alexandre Dumas, fils Everyone we have ever worked with is accepting, if not downright enthusiastic, about managing process safety. Likewise, everyone we have ever worked with is no more enthusiastic about complying with Process Safety Management than they are about getting a root canal. In part, [...]

By | 2019-03-28T15:02:10+00:00 March 28th, 2019|Chemicals, Process Safety, Process Safety Management|0 Comments

Grounding the Max 8: Ignoring Near Misses

“The failure of a layer of protection to prevent an incident is not the initiating cause of the incident.”  The United States just joined much of the world in grounding the Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9. The tipping point was not the crash of Indonesian Lion Air Flight 610 into the Java Sea [...]

By | 2019-03-14T16:47:23+00:00 March 14th, 2019|Current Events, Process Safety|0 Comments

Worst Case Scenario: What Does It Mean?

“No matter how bad things are, you can always make things worse.”  — Randy Pausch The term “worst case” lacks rigor.  Let’s stop using it. “Worst case” doesn’t really mean what we think it means and it confuses people. More often than not, the term is an obstacle to good analysis, not an aid. What [...]

By | 2019-03-07T16:12:24+00:00 March 7th, 2019|PHA, Process Safety, Risk Assessment|0 Comments

Hear No Evil, See No Evil: False Alarms and Spurious Trips

“With a chemical alarm, you’re going to build one that is oversensitive because you would rather the alarm go off and give you a false alarm than to err on the other side.”  —General Norman Schwarzkopf False alarms and spurious trips are inconvenient and annoying. They shut down operations that are running well, imposing the [...]

By | 2019-02-21T14:34:49+00:00 February 21st, 2019|Process Safety|0 Comments

Do You Need a Hero? Emergency Action Plans

“Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy.”  — F. Scott Fitzgerald Being a firefighter is about as safe as any typical job in the United States. Fighting house fires is safer.  Fighting industrial fires, on the other hand, is about as dangerous as the most dangerous jobs that are legal. The Dangers [...]

By | 2019-02-14T14:32:40+00:00 February 14th, 2019|Chemicals, PHA, Procedures, Training, Workplace Safety|0 Comments

Why Different PHA Teams Get Different Results

“Differences challenge assumptions.”  Anne Wilson Schaef There is a common misunderstanding about the nature of Process Hazard Analyses (PHAs):  that they are objective studies. By objective, we mean that different teams, working at different times and at different places, but looking at the same process, will get the same results. There is a perception that [...]

By | 2019-02-07T16:08:56+00:00 February 7th, 2019|PHA, Process Safety Management|0 Comments