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

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

Your Next Blockbuster Adventure: The PHA

“Archeology is the search for fact, not truth. If it’s truth you’re looking for, Dr. Tyree’s philosophy class is right down the hall.” — Indiana Jones, from The Last Crusade A process hazard analysis (PHA) is not a trivial exercise.  The search for process hazards takes time and effort, and it pulls a team of [...]

By | 2019-01-31T15:53:17+00:00 January 31st, 2019|PHA, Process Safety, Process Safety Management|0 Comments

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.” – [...]

Caps and Plugs: Why We Do The Things We Do

“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.”  —Warren Buffett Caps and plugs serve no process function. It is a common practice to install a cap or plug on the end of a line that is open to the atmosphere, but the justification is for safety, [...]

By | 2018-10-18T15:27:00+00:00 October 18th, 2018|PHA, Process Safety|0 Comments

Seven Habits for More Effective PHAs

“Most people would rather have their wisdom teeth extracted without the benefit of anesthesia than sit through a PHA.”  PHAs are tough.  They take focus and energy and they take people away from their regular jobs, which don’t go away just because they are in a PHA. Yet, like good dental hygiene, no one thinks [...]

By | 2018-02-15T14:30:36+00:00 February 15th, 2018|PHA, Process Safety Management|0 Comments

Safety Lifecycle – Part 3: Developing Risk Tolerance Criteria

“If we accept there is no such thing as ‘zero risk’ then we should not spin the meaning of words with assertions such as ‘all accidents are preventable.’ – Dr. Rob Long In terms of process safety, one definition of risk is, “[The] combination of the frequency of occurrence of harm [the likelihood] and severity [...]

Check Valves and Risk Assessment: Should You Take Credit?

“Unless you go forward then you are going back.”  - Greg Lake Check valves (CVs) are routinely installed as safeguards against reverse flow.  Just as routinely, check valves are dismissed as safeguards during process hazard analysis.  If check valves are of no value, then there is no point in installing them.  On the other hand, [...]

By | 2017-11-14T21:24:36+00:00 September 28th, 2017|PHA, Process Safety, Risk Assessment, Safety Lifecycle|7 Comments

External Plant Fires: What’s the Likelihood?

“A spark neglected makes a mighty fire.”  Robert Herrick During a process hazard analysis (PHA) and a layer of protection analysis (LOPA), the scenario of an external plant fire frequently arises. From our experience facilitating PHAs and LOPAs, we’ve found that a common cause for this is a pooling of flammable liquid or oil getting [...]

By | 2018-01-30T20:13:52+00:00 September 7th, 2017|Chemicals, Gas, PHA, Process Safety, Risk Assessment|1 Comment