H21: Is Hydrogen a Safe Fuel?

“The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity.” - Harlan Ellison I first learned about H21, the project to convert the fuel gas distribution system in the North of England from natural gas to hydrogen, at a safety conference where I gave a talk on containing hydrogen deflagrations within pressure vessels. [...]

By | 2019-08-08T14:23:25+00:00 August 8th, 2019|Chemicals, Gas|0 Comments

Do You Need a Hero? Emergency Action Plans

“Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy.”  — F. Scott Fitzgerald Being a firefighter is about as safe as any typical job in the United States. Fighting house fires is safer.  Fighting industrial fires, on the other hand, is about as dangerous as the most dangerous jobs that are legal. The Dangers [...]

By | 2019-02-14T14:32:40+00:00 February 14th, 2019|Chemicals, PHA, Procedures, Training, Workplace Safety|0 Comments

Lab Safety: Being Interested Isn’t Enough

“Once trained, the hazard often becomes a routine part of their experimentation and researchers perceive themselves to be experts in handling the hazard. Perceived familiarity can shift the awareness level from cautiousness to complacency.”  — University of California Center for Laboratory Safety It didn’t get much press.  Science reported on it, as did Chemical & [...]

By | 2019-01-03T18:58:49+00:00 January 3rd, 2019|Chemicals, Procedures, Workplace Safety|0 Comments

Arkema: A Ham Sandwich

“The district attorney could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich if he wanted to.” Judge Sol Wachtler Arkema is a ham sandwich. A year ago, in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and the flooding that followed, we got to watch trailers loaded with organic peroxide go up in flames and billowing clouds [...]

By | 2018-09-06T15:33:49+00:00 September 6th, 2018|Chemicals, Current Events, Process Safety|0 Comments

That’s Hazardous? Process Safety in Unexpected Places

“If you do not expect the unexpected you will not find it, for it is not to be reached by search or trail.” –Heraclitus I work for a process safety consulting company and we often participate in community events that bring members of the general public through our door.  The first question we always encounter [...]

By | 2018-08-23T14:47:09+00:00 August 23rd, 2018|Chemicals, Combustible Dust, Process Safety|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

Spark Detection

“A mighty flame follows a little spark.”  Dante Alighieri Sparks can cause fires. Good news if you want fire. Bad news if fires, or worse, explosions, are something you want to avoid. So, it should come as no surprise that the National Fire Protection Association takes a dim view of sparks. The Dust Hazard Analysis [...]

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