Things We Worry About: In-plant Derailments

“To invent the train is to invent the rail accident of derailment.”  —Paul Virilio When most of us think of train derailments, we think of horrendous events, like the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster in 2013 that destroyed the town in Quebec and killed 47 people. Fortunately, the vast majority of train derailments associated with the chemical [...]

By | 2018-10-11T15:15:59+00:00 October 11th, 2018|Process Safety, Risk Assessment|0 Comments

Things We Worry About: In-plant Truck Releases

“It’s no good crying over spilt milk, because all the forces of the universe are bent on spilling it.”  —William Somerset Maugham Imagine a tank truck shows up at your plant. It’s there to make a delivery or to pick up a load. Perhaps it had to wait overnight in your lot before your shipping [...]

By | 2018-09-13T13:56:16+00:00 September 13th, 2018|Chemicals, Process Safety, Risk Assessment|0 Comments

Breaking Glass: Facility Siting

“I love the sound of breaking glass.”  Nick Lowe When I was a kid, the song, “I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass,” was on the radio. I didn’t get it. I had memories of the sound of breaking glass, none of them good: The sound of an errant baseball going through the neighbor’s picture [...]

By | 2018-08-02T13:39:56+00:00 August 2nd, 2018|Process Safety, Risk Assessment, Workplace Safety|0 Comments

How Rare is Rare?

“The unlikely combination of potatoes and pasta does appear in some Italian recipes.”  Yotam Ottolenghi People sometimes have a hard time appreciating the difference between risk and consequences. To help, we ask them to imagine the worst thing possible that could actually happen at their plant, but not to say what it is. Then we [...]

Just to be Safe: Can You be Too Conservative?

“I’m a conservative, but I’m not a nut about it.”  George H.W.Bush We’ve all heard it.  “You need to be conservative, just to be on the safe side.”  It’s an article of faith in the safety community.  Like all articles of faith and other religious beliefs, any deviation is heresy with the potential for excommunication.  [...]

Wait For It! Are Trip Delays Okay?

“But the important thing about learning to wait, I feel sure, is to know what you are waiting for.”  —Anna Neagle Many safety instrumented functions (SIFs) are deliberately designed to wait before tripping.  Like a sergeant commanding his troops to “Wait for it!” the SIF designer is anxious that the SIF not trip prematurely. Some [...]

The Ford Pinto

“The Ford Pinto—the barbecue that seats four.” –Johnny Carson This month, February 2018, will be the 40th anniversary of the California jury verdict in the Grimshaw v. Ford Motor Co. case. The jury awarded Richard Grimshaw $2,516,000 in compensatory damages and $125,000,000 in punitive damages, although the trial judge reduced the punitive damages to $3,500,000. [...]

By | 2018-02-08T14:38:29+00:00 February 8th, 2018|Current Events, Risk Assessment|0 Comments

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

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