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

New Year, New Safety Goals: What’s the formula for meeting them?

“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.” Oprah Winfrey With 2018 coming to an end and 2019 just beginning, we’re provided with an opportunity to reflect on our accomplishments (and failures) of the past year while also looking ahead towards what we want to accomplish in the year [...]

By | 2018-12-27T15:32:00+00:00 December 27th, 2018|Current Events, Workplace Safety|0 Comments

Lock the Gates Behind You

“If you want zero risk in the plant, send everyone home and lock the gate.”  — Industrial safety proverb I don’t remember when I first heard it, but I know I’ve said it. Risk is inherent to the chemical enterprise. We can reduce it, but we cannot eliminate it entirely. Zero risk is not an [...]

By | 2018-12-20T13:45:58+00:00 December 20th, 2018|Current Events, Process Safety, Workplace Safety|0 Comments

Master the Box

“Constraints inspire creativity.”  — Christopher Isaac “Biz”Stone, co-founder of Twitter I once asked a young engineer if he knew where the phrase, “Think Outside the Box,” came from. “Taco Bell?” he replied tentatively. I asked a few of my other younger colleagues and to a person they had no idea where the phrase came from. As [...]

By | 2018-12-15T17:20:41+00:00 December 14th, 2018|Current Events, Training|1 Comment

Things We Worry About: Plane Crashes

“You are now statistically more likely to be elected president of the United States in your lifetime than you are to die in a plane crash. What an amazing achievement as a society! But what we end up focusing on are the catastrophic failures that are incredibly rare but happen every now and then.” – [...]

A New Enforcement Program: Ammonia and Ammonium Nitrate

“This program is an enforcement tool to emphasize the obligations under existing OSHA standards,”  – Kimberly Stille, OSHA Region VII Administrator When the West Fertilizer ammonium nitrate warehouse north of Waco, Texas caught fire and then blew up on April 17, 2013, killing 15 and injuring 160, much was made of the lack of inspections [...]

Cracks in the Bridge: FIU Part 2

“…obviously some repairs or whatever will have to be done but from a safety perspective we don’t see that there’s any issue there, so we’re not concerned about it from that perspective…” —W. Denney Pate, Lead Engineer on FIU Bridge Project Obviously, Denney Pate got it wrong. In that voice mail message to the Florida [...]

By | 2018-09-20T18:08:31+00:00 September 20th, 2018|Current Events, Workplace Safety|0 Comments

Arkema: A Ham Sandwich

“The district attorney could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich if he wanted to.” Judge Sol Wachtler Arkema is a ham sandwich. A year ago, in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and the flooding that followed, we got to watch trailers loaded with organic peroxide go up in flames and billowing clouds [...]

By | 2018-09-06T15:33:49+00:00 September 6th, 2018|Chemicals, Current Events, Process Safety|0 Comments

Before You Hear It on the News

“I just wanted to call you and let you know before you heard it on the news.”  —Mike Schmidt When we were newlyweds, my husband once called me at work to let me know that he was OK. He wanted to tell me about something that might show up on the local newscast later in [...]

By | 2018-08-30T15:50:43+00:00 August 30th, 2018|Current Events, Workplace Safety|0 Comments

Human Factors: The Power of Words

“Words do not express thoughts very well. They always become a little different immediately after they are expressed, a little distorted, a little foolish.”  —Hermann Hesse I was just treated to a full-body pat-down by the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA). For frequent flyers, tales of woe regarding the TSA are like, um, opinions. Everybody has [...]