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 [...]

Managing Process Safety: Lessons from the Pandemic

“When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.”  — Samuel Johnson COVID-19, with its 14-day – fortnight – incubation period has had the effect of concentrating some of the best minds in the world. I have read several articles recently where the authors suggest how the [...]

By |2020-04-23T15:29:27+00:00April 23rd, 2020|Current Events, Process Safety|0 Comments

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