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.

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+00:00 October 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+00:00 October 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+00:00 September 26th, 2019|Process Safety, Workplace Safety|0 Comments

PSM Auditor: Coach or Umpire?

“Umpires don’t make the rules.  They apply them…They make sure everybody plays by the rules.  But it is a limited role.  Nobody ever went to a ballgame to see the umpire.”  — Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts A call about doing a PSM audit usually begins with a question from the caller about whether [...]

More Than Three? Limits to Redundancy

“How can you trust a man who wears both a belt and suspenders? The man can’t even trust his own pants.”  — Henry Fonda as Frank, in Once Upon a Time in the West There’s a cliché in the movies that involves a paranoid urban apartment-dweller with a dozen or more locks, deadbolts, chains, and [...]

Seven Questions: The Essence of HazOps

“A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.”  — Francis Bacon There are about a gazillion “best” ways to do HazOps. What they all have in common, however, is that they use worksheets that are set up as tables that look at deviations in a node. For each deviation, a HazOp team considers “Causes”, “Consequences”, “Safeguards”, [...]

By | 2019-08-29T14:38:07+00:00 August 29th, 2019|PHA, Process Safety, Process Safety Management|0 Comments

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 [...]