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, [...]

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+00:00August 29th, 2019|PHA, Process Safety, Process Safety Management|0 Comments

Doing HazOps the RIGHT Way!

“Watching two engineers argue is like watching pigs wallow in mud. Eventually you figure out that they do it because they like to.”  — Anonymous I’m still learning better ways to do HazOps. And since there are better ways, then what I am doing now couldn’t possibly be the best. So, what is the RIGHT [...]

By |2019-05-16T13:53:51+00:00May 16th, 2019|PHA, Procedures, Process Safety|0 Comments

Lab Safety: A Three Phase System

“A pint of sweat will save a gallon of blood.”  George S. Patton, Jr. I intended to begin with “A good plan, well executed, is better than a perfect plan, poorly executed,” but when I checked, that’s not what General Patton said.  What he said was “A good plan, violently executed now, is better than [...]

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 [...]

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+00:00March 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+00:00February 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+00:00February 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+00:00January 31st, 2019|PHA, Process Safety, Process Safety Management|0 Comments