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|0 Comments

We’re Not Wizards

“But how they can be charged with negligence because they were not wizards, appellant’s brief does not make clear.”  — Osmond K. Fraenkel, successfully arguing before the New York Supreme Court, 1935 In a world where companies tout “Zero Incidents,” not as an aspirational definition of perfect safety, but as a measurable and achievable target, [...]

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 [...]

Lab Safety: A Three Phase System

“A pint of sweat will save a gallon of blood.”  George S. Patton, Jr. I intended to begin with “A good plan, well executed, is better than a perfect plan, poorly executed,” but when I checked, that’s not what General Patton said.  What he said was “A good plan, violently executed now, is better than [...]

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 [...]

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+00:00September 28th, 2017|PHA, Process Safety, Risk Assessment, Safety Lifecycle|7 Comments

Protection Under Pressure: Understanding HIPPS

“Everybody handles pressure differently.”  Gerry Cooney High Integrity Pressure Protection Systems (HIPPS) are a type of Safety Instrumented System (SIS) used as an alternative to or in conjunction with pressure relief systems.  HIPPS were added to the Standards as an alternative to pressure relief valves in August of 1996 after many safety professionals realized that [...]

By |2017-08-03T15:10:00+00:00August 3rd, 2017|Process Safety, Safety Lifecycle|1 Comment

Safety Lifecycle: Process Safety Information

“Great design is a multi-layered relationship between human life and its environment.” Naoto Fukasawa Generally speaking, in order to grasp a concept that is multifaceted, I’ve found that it’s easier to start big and then work my way down into the nitty gritty details. In my last post, we were exposed to a general overview [...]

By |2017-07-24T16:31:34+00:00June 20th, 2017|Process Safety, Safety Lifecycle|2 Comments

Operating Procedures – We Need Them

Every part of an organization is dependent on documented procedures to mitigate risk and improve productivity and performance. – Deborah Kenny At Bluefield Process Safety, I have had a chance to work on Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for multiple organizations. I have worked with some organizations that either lack SOPs for some or most tasks, [...]