Sharing Knowledge: How to Do It and Why It’s Important

“Knowledge, like air, is vital to life. Like air, no one should be denied it.”  — Alan Moore It is human nature to seek knowledge - we have evolved as curious creatures. Being able to build an accurate picture of the world is one method we employ for survival.  When you’re looking for knowledge, what [...]

Hear No Evil, See No Evil: False Alarms and Spurious Trips

“With a chemical alarm, you’re going to build one that is oversensitive because you would rather the alarm go off and give you a false alarm than to err on the other side.”  —General Norman Schwarzkopf False alarms and spurious trips are inconvenient and annoying. They shut down operations that are running well, imposing the [...]

By | 2019-02-21T14:34:49+00:00 February 21st, 2019|Process Safety|0 Comments

Your Next Blockbuster Adventure: The PHA

“Archeology is the search for fact, not truth. If it’s truth you’re looking for, Dr. Tyree’s philosophy class is right down the hall.” — Indiana Jones, from The Last Crusade A process hazard analysis (PHA) is not a trivial exercise.  The search for process hazards takes time and effort, and it pulls a team of [...]

By | 2019-01-31T15:53:17+00:00 January 31st, 2019|PHA, Process Safety, Process Safety Management|0 Comments

By the Book: Procedure Violations in Incident Investigations

“There is almost no human action or decision that cannot be made to look flawed and less sensible in the misleading light of hindsight.  It is essential that the critic should keep himself constantly aware of that fact.”  — Lord Anthony Hidden One of the insidious effects of hindsight bias is that it puts much [...]

Near Misses: Learning from Experience

“Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward.”  — Vernon Law When hit with the first winter storm of the season, everyone has to learn how to drive all over again.  In our community, freezing rain coats everything, including the roads, which makes driving especially treacherous.  A few years [...]

Lock the Gates Behind You

“If you want zero risk in the plant, send everyone home and lock the gate.”  — Industrial safety proverb I don’t remember when I first heard it, but I know I’ve said it. Risk is inherent to the chemical enterprise. We can reduce it, but we cannot eliminate it entirely. Zero risk is not an [...]

By | 2018-12-20T13:45:58+00:00 December 20th, 2018|Current Events, Process Safety, Workplace Safety|0 Comments

Options: Reducing Risk

“To have constructive conversations about … options, one needs to take a calm look at the numbers.”  — David J.C. MacKay In addition to the usual hazards found in all jobs—transportation related fatalities, workplace violence, and slips, trips, and falls—the chemical process industries have three special hazards to worry about: fires, explosions, and toxic releases. [...]

Check Valves: Why We Do the Things We Do

“To many, total abstinence is easier than perfect moderation.”  —St. Augustine “Check valves are worthless.” Every engineer I know has heard that. Many believe it. Quite a few have said it. Yet, check valves are still made and installed. How worthless could they be? Why Use Check Valves? Check valves are designed to allow flow [...]

By | 2018-11-19T15:17:29+00:00 November 19th, 2018|Process Safety, Process Safety Management|1 Comment

Not Likely

“None of this will be important if there’s a zombie apocalypse. But how likely is that?”  —Jason Vladescu I was once at a conference where I overheard a conversation at the next table during lunch. The two of them were talking about PSAs. I quickly realized that they weren’t talking about Public Service Announcements. They [...]

By | 2018-11-15T20:42:35+00:00 November 15th, 2018|Process Safety, Risk Assessment|0 Comments

Caps and Plugs: Why We Do The Things We Do

“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.”  —Warren Buffett Caps and plugs serve no process function. It is a common practice to install a cap or plug on the end of a line that is open to the atmosphere, but the justification is for safety, [...]

By | 2018-10-18T15:27:00+00:00 October 18th, 2018|PHA, Process Safety|0 Comments