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. [...]

Occupational Safety versus Process Safety – What’s the Difference?

“Safety is not an intellectual exercise to keep us in work.  It is a matter of life and death.  It is the sum of our contributions to safety management that determines whether the people we work with live or die.”  Sir Brian Appleton A little over a year ago, in A Beginner’s Guide to Process [...]

By | 2018-01-25T14:33:07+00:00 January 25th, 2018|Process Safety, Workplace Safety|0 Comments

So I Know You Understand: Training Verification

“I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”  —Alan Greenspan I once heard a young operator complain, “All we do around here is safety training. Nobody understands half of it and the other half is just common [...]

This Is Not a Drill

“Air raid, Pearl Harbor. This is not a drill.”  —Lt. Cmdr. Logan Ramsey, 7-Dec-1941 'Beauty' Ramsey sent one of the most famous telegrams of history after watching a Japanese dive bomber’s payload detonate in Pearl Harbor. Other telegrams went out that morning, from the Navy Yard and Kaneohe, but they were largely ignored until smoke [...]

Mincing Words

“If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.”  George Orwell, 1984 We’ve all done it.  We’re talking about something terrible and rather than calling it what it is, we choose words that are softer, less harsh.  Or we call it something that completely hides our meaning. Instead of talking [...]

By | 2017-11-16T14:26:29+00:00 November 16th, 2017|Process Safety, Risk Assessment, Workplace Safety|0 Comments

“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.” [...]

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

Getting It Wrong

“Adversity does not build character, it reveals it” -James Lane Allen I have been very interested in what the press has had to say about process safety issues following Hurricane Harvey. I was also very gratified when the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) put out a warning that start-up was one the most dangerous operations [...]

By | 2018-01-26T19:36:56+00:00 September 1st, 2017|Current Events, Process Safety|0 Comments