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, [...]

Inconceivable: Unrecognized Hazards

“You keep using that word.  I do not think it means what you think it means.”  - Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya, in The Princess Bride I find the phrase “While we never anticipate a loss of cabin pressure…” incredibly annoying.  To anticipate means to think of something that will or might happen in the [...]

By |2019-12-05T14:08:07+00:00December 5th, 2019|Process Safety, Risk Assessment, Safety Lifecycle|1 Comment

Out of the Blocks: Credit for Human Response

“Fear is often our immediate response to uncertainty.”  — Gabrielle Bernstein In 2001, when the CCPS book, Layer of Protection Analysis: Simplified Process Risk Assessment, “the purple book”, stated that human response is “a relatively weak protection layer” and “less reliable than engineering controls”, many people were willing to accept that piece of conventional wisdom. [...]

Dia de los Muertos: Remembering the Dead

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  — George Santayana Our offices on Cherokee Street exist in the midst of a vibrant Hispanic community. So here in our neighborhood, Dia de los Muertos is in getting in full swing and will be observed through November 2. Dia de los Muertos, the [...]

Size Matters: Sampling for PSM Compliance Audits

“Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable.”  — Oscar G. Foellinger, 1927 As an engineering student, I once used empirical data to solve a design problem. The approach gave a reasonable answer, but my professor scolded me. “Mere curve fitting,” he sneered. “Good engineering requires working from first principles.” I didn’t agree then, [...]

By |2019-10-24T15:20:35+00:00October 24th, 2019|Process Safety|0 Comments

Someone Else’s Experience

“Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.”  — C.S.Lewis We all learn from experience. When it comes to brutal lessons, though, it is better to learn from someone else’s experience.  In the course of our work, clients have shared some experiences with us that everyone can learn from.  [...]

By |2019-09-26T13:14:16+00:00September 26th, 2019|Process Safety, Workplace Safety|0 Comments

PSM Auditor: Coach or Umpire?

“Umpires don’t make the rules.  They apply them…They make sure everybody plays by the rules.  But it is a limited role.  Nobody ever went to a ballgame to see the umpire.”  — Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts A call about doing a PSM audit usually begins with a question from the caller about whether [...]

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 [...]