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

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

Red Shirts: Reducing Occupancy to Reduce Risk

“Red Shirt: In Star Trek, red-uniformed security officers and engineers who accompany the main characters on landing parties who often suffer quick deaths.[”  Wikipedia I didn’t see the NBC television series, Star Trek, until it went into syndication, when it became a staple of television viewing for everyone I knew while I was in college. [...]

Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover – Or a Factory by its Facade

“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.”  Aldous Huxley We’ve all seen them; factories are scattered across the landscapes of America.  There’s probably one in or near the town where you live, where you work, where you raise your children.  I live near one and [...]

By | 2017-07-24T16:37:37+00:00 March 9th, 2017|Process Safety Management, Risk Assessment|0 Comments

Tolerable Risk, Analysis from a Novice

“Safety is a common denominator across all aspects of life, hence knowledge should always be shared.  It is not a matter for industry it is a matter for humanity.”  Doug Bourne, technical director at PM Lucas Six months ago, if you would have asked me to define the phrase “tolerable risk”, I would have stared [...]

By | 2017-07-24T16:41:57+00:00 January 12th, 2017|Process Safety Management, Risk Assessment|0 Comments

Human Response: What’s It Worth?

“Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.”  Napolean Bonaparte Can operator responses to unsafe conditions be considered part of safety instrumented functions?  The question frequently arises during a Layer of Protection Analysis (LOPA) as operators consider their existing safeguards and Independent Layers of Protection (IPLs).  [...]

By | 2017-07-21T19:50:12+00:00 January 4th, 2017|Risk Assessment|0 Comments