Abandon-in-Place or Decommission?

“Let go of the attachment, keep the lesson.”  L.J. Vanier On February 16, 2007, a propane fire broke out at the Valero McKee Refinery in Sunray, Texas.  Three workers were injured and the refinery was forced to shut down for nearly two months.  The CSB investigated and determined that water settling out of a propane [...]

Simplifying Safety Critical

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” Stephen R Covey An important part of managing process safety is deciding what equipment is critical to the process and its safety. Of course, it is important to carefully maintain all equipment, but not all equipment is safety critical. An [...]

Spark Detection

“A mighty flame follows a little spark.”  Dante Alighieri Sparks can cause fires. Good news if you want fire. Bad news if fires, or worse, explosions, are something you want to avoid. So, it should come as no surprise that the National Fire Protection Association takes a dim view of sparks. The Dust Hazard Analysis [...]

Man Down: Knowing When Someone is Hurt

“If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them.”  Isaac Asimov We recently facilitated a Process Hazard Analysis (PHA) where the question came up, “What if there was a release and an operator was suddenly overcome? How would we know?” The PHA team considered several possible safeguards: rounds, radio [...]

Who Gets In? Plant Access Control

“We did not choose to be the guardians of the gate, but there is no one else.” – Lyndon B. Johnson In LOPA, the role of people can be broken down into three categories: Victims, villains, and heroes.  Access control serves not only to reduce the number of victims but also restrict access for villains. [...]

“It’s Always Been That Way”: Normalization of Deviation

“It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage than a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by the preservation of the old institution and merely lukewarm defenders in those who gain by the new ones.” [...]

Operating Procedures – We Need Them

Every part of an organization is dependent on documented procedures to mitigate risk and improve productivity and performance. – Deborah Kenny At Bluefield Process Safety, I have had a chance to work on Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for multiple organizations. I have worked with some organizations that either lack SOPs for some or most tasks, [...]