The Key Bridge Collapse: Are There Lessons for Us Now?

“Catastrophic bridge accidents are rare, but the number and severity of those due to ship collisions far exceed those due to winds, waves, and earthquakes combined.”  — Committee on Ship-Bridge Collisions (1983) On Tuesday, March 26, 2024, shortly before 1:30 am, the cargo ship Dali drifted into the Francis Scott Key Bridge, causing the bridge’s [...]

By |2024-04-04T09:57:08-05:00April 4th, 2024|Current Events, Procedures, Workplace Safety|0 Comments

When A Chemical Truck Rolls Over: Gawkers

“It’s what you do next that counts.”  — Lisa Mackay One of my favorite movies is The Great Waldo Pepper starring Robert Redford as a barnstorming pilot after World War I. One scene is seared into my memory. Waldo Pepper’s friend, Ezra Stiles, crashes during an air show. The crowd surges out to the wrecked [...]

By |2024-02-23T10:19:14-06:00February 23rd, 2024|Chemicals, Current Events|Comments Off on When A Chemical Truck Rolls Over: Gawkers

Process Safety: Tornadoes in December

“The potential changes to particular provisions of the current PSM standard that OSHA is considering include:  8. Clarifying paragraph (e) to require consideration of natural disasters and extreme temperatures in their PSM programs, in Response to E.O. 13990.”  — OSHA, 20-Sep-2022 call for Stakeholder comments I grew up in the Midwest. I’ve lived in Joplin, [...]

By |2022-12-16T00:06:38-06:00December 16th, 2022|Current Events, Procedures, Training, Workplace Safety|Comments Off on Process Safety: Tornadoes in December

HazWOpER: What is an Emergency?

“I don’t worry about a zombie apocalypse. Mainly because it’s unlikely, but also because I think I’d be pretty good in that type of emergency.”  — Sarah Millican A couple of days ago at a plant here in St. Louis, a 55-gallon drum of acetone failed and released its contents. In the scheme of catastrophic [...]

By |2022-10-06T13:51:23-05:00October 6th, 2022|Chemicals, Current Events, Process Safety|Comments Off on HazWOpER: What is an Emergency?

The Shipping News

“Eighty thousand pounds of muscle, blood, and steel in a pile. It’s spectacular.”  — Gary Williams No plant in the chemical process industries wants to make the national news. The local news, where the plant’s scholarships for high school students is covered? Sure. But the national news? The only things that get national coverage are [...]

By |2024-02-02T14:43:39-06:00August 25th, 2022|Chemicals, Procedures, Process Safety, Safety Lifecycle|Comments Off on The Shipping News

Power Failures: Back-Up Generator Reliability

“With a purposeful grimace and a terrible sound, he pulls the spitting high tension wires down.”  — Buck Dharma, Blue Öyster Cult The preferred design of a safety function is one that deenergizes to trip. That is, a function that goes to the safe state when all sources of energy have been removed. The probability [...]

By |2022-03-31T16:56:04-05:00March 31st, 2022|PHA, Process Safety, Process Safety Management, Workplace Safety|Comments Off on Power Failures: Back-Up Generator Reliability

E-Stops: The “Get Fired Button”

“Panic is a natural response to danger, but it’s one that severely compounds the risk.”  — David Ignatius At 2:30 am, on Saturday, October 2, 2021, a split in the San Pedro Bay Pipeline began discharging oil into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California. Low pressure alarms in the control room indicated that there [...]

By |2021-11-18T14:52:54-06:00November 18th, 2021|Procedures, Process Safety, Process Safety Management, Workplace Safety|Comments Off on E-Stops: The “Get Fired Button”

How Much Credit for Alarms?

“Morning comes whether you set the alarm or not.”  — Ursula K. Le Guin Late one evening a few months after we moved into our offices on Cherokee Street, the alarm went off. My home is nearby, and I got there within a couple of minutes to discover that one of the doors had been [...]

By |2021-06-24T14:49:47-05:00June 24th, 2021|PHA, Procedures, Process Safety, Process Safety Management|Comments Off on How Much Credit for Alarms?

Out of Harm’s Way: Using Drones to Fight Chemical Plant Fires

“Running toward danger is foolhardy. But so is closing your eyes to it. Many perils become less dangerous once you understand their potential hazards.”  — Brandon Mull On Thursday, April 29, at about 2:30 pm, neighbors reported several explosions at the Manor Chemical Company in Affton, Missouri, a suburb on the southwest side of St. [...]

By |2021-05-06T14:59:54-05:00May 6th, 2021|Chemicals, Current Events, Workplace Safety|Comments Off on Out of Harm’s Way: Using Drones to Fight Chemical Plant Fires

The Dose Makes the Poison

“All things are poison, and nothing is without poison; the dosage alone makes it so a thing is not a poison.”  — Paracelsus Have you ever noticed that news accounts about incidents in the process industries never talk about “chemicals”? No, the writer always refers to “toxic chemicals”. As though you can’t say one without [...]

By |2021-03-25T16:18:42-05:00March 25th, 2021|Chemicals, Process Safety|Comments Off on The Dose Makes the Poison
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