Previous Incidents: Learning from Mistakes

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”  — Henry Ford I know a young woman whose relationships are in a constant state of turmoil. She keeps picking the wrong guys and each relationship ends in heartbreak. “Why do I keep making the same mistake over and over?” Why indeed? I [...]

Choosing Safety: Is That How We Roll?

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”  — Maya Angelou Many St. Louis drivers view stop signs as suggestions; they don’t see a full stop is either required or expected. And this isn’t just young hooligans in muscle cars. It includes little old ladies in [...]

By |2020-07-23T14:39:39+00:00July 23rd, 2020|Process Safety, Process Safety Management|0 Comments

Breaking the Law: Conservation of Recklessness

“Be afraid. Be very afraid.”  — Geena Davis as Veronica Quaife in The Fly, directed by David Cronenburg Try as we might, we safety professionals cannot make people want to be safe. The challenge then, is to make them safer than they want to be. The Law of Conservation of Recklessness There is not officially [...]

Administrative Controls: The Invisible Safeguards

“Prepare and prevent, don’t repair and repent.” – Author Unknown Most safeguards can be easily observed. They might be the mechanical guards that prevent one’s fingers getting ripped off by moving parts, the fences that keep unauthorized people out of a hazardous area, or the alarms that blare through the plant when the reactor reaches [...]

Whose Fault? What to Do with Crazy

“Minimizing your exposure to pathology goes a long, long way.”  — Dr. Susan Biali Haas When a sensor faults, it doesn’t stop providing information. It’s just unreliable information. It may be correct, it may not, but it is not to be believed.  Like a clock that has stopped but is still correct twice a day, [...]

By |2020-05-14T13:25:05+00:00May 14th, 2020|Process Safety, Process Safety Management|0 Comments

Human Response: An Effective Safeguard?

“Shallow men believe in luck; wise and strong men in the cause and effect." – Ralph Waldo Emerson In process safety, one important aspect of assessing risk is determining what safeguards are in place to protect against a hazard. Often, we see teams credit human response as a safeguard, sometimes relying on the response as [...]

What If There Was No PSM Standard?

“What’s the use you learning to do right when it’s troublesome to do right and ain’t no trouble to do wrong, and the wages is just the same?”  — Mark Twain, in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn We love to hate regulations. The harder it is to comply with them, the more we hate them. [...]

By |2020-03-26T14:35:52+00:00March 26th, 2020|Process Safety, Process Safety Management|0 Comments

Process Safety: How Far We’ve Come

“Life is a journey and not a destination.”  — Lynn H. Hough When Richard Nixon signed OSHA into law in 1970, the United States was looking at 14,000 work-related fatalities per year. With a workforce of about 70 million full-time equivalents, the work-related fatality rate was about 20 fatalities per 200,000,000 hours worked. In 2018, [...]

Villains, Victims, and Heroes in Process Safety

“You’re a hero one day, you’re a villain another day.”  — Vincent Tan Every good story is a story of conflict. It has a villain. It has a victim. And in the best stories, it has a hero. The story of a process incident or scenario is no different. It has villains—causes. It has victims—receptors, [...]

3 Criteria for Picking LOPA Scenarios

“The easiest way to solve a problem is to pick an easy one.”  — Franklin P. Jones We love having choices. We hate making choices. What if we pick wrong? There is no shortage of people ready to tell us. It is always helpful to have criteria for choosing, or to be honest, to justify [...]