Process Safety Beyond the Fence Line

“I’m an actor… I do a job and I go home. Why are you interested in me? You don’t ask a truck driver about his job.”  — James Gandolfini I’ve been struck recently by how much we don’t talk about process safety once the hazardous chemicals we make have been loaded and shipped. Process Hazard [...]

By |2021-02-18T17:00:43+00:00February 18th, 2021|Chemicals, PHA, Process Safety, Process Safety Management|0 Comments

Simple Asphyxiation: The Tragedy in Gainesville

“It is these properties that make materials so useful that also pose hazards to health and property.”  — Peter Lodal Liquid nitrogen has some wonderful properties. It is really, really cold, so it is great for flash freezing delicate items. When vaporized, it helps maintain non-flammable mixtures, even when flammable vapors are present. Because it [...]

By |2021-02-07T00:13:50+00:00February 4th, 2021|Chemicals, Current Events, Workplace Safety|0 Comments

Pool Fires

“Build a man a fire, and he’ll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life.”  — Terry Pratchett The most common fire in a process plant is a pool fire. A pool of flammable liquid, something that exists normally or, more likely, something [...]

By |2021-01-08T17:48:33+00:00January 8th, 2021|Chemicals, Process Safety|0 Comments

How Likely? Your Guess is As Good As…

“For what it's worth, a good streak doesn't jinx you, and a bad one, unfortunately, does not mean better luck is in store.”  — Leonard Mlodinow When someone tells you that they took a calculated risk, they almost certainly are not speaking the truth, to you or to themselves. That’s because there were almost certainly [...]

By |2020-11-05T14:30:31+00:00November 5th, 2020|Process Safety, Risk Assessment|1 Comment

What We Know: Another Explosion in Houston

“All I know is what I read in the papers.”  — Will Rogers When there is a catastrophic release of highly hazardous chemicals, I want to know about it. I want to know what happened, why it happened, and what I can learn to keep it from happening again. I go to news accounts. All [...]

By |2020-02-03T20:35:41+00:00January 30th, 2020|Chemicals, Current Events, Workplace Safety|0 Comments

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do: HazOp Nodes

“Come on, baby, let’s start anew, ‘cause breaking up is hard to do.”  — Neil Sedaka Before a HazOp team ever assembles, the facilitator has some important tasks to complete: get agreement with management on the scope of the review, identify the boundaries of the study, and break the process up into nodes.  And breaking [...]

By |2020-01-09T16:34:36+00:00January 9th, 2020|PHA, Procedures, Process Safety Management|1 Comment

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|1 Comment

A Fatal Cleaning Incident: Familiarity Breeds …

“While devastated at this unimaginable loss, we are so very proud that Ryan died while trying to protect his fellow employees and restaurant patrons.”  — family of Ryan Baldera On November 7, 2019, a restaurant employee in Burlington, Massachusetts was overcome by fumes from a “strong chemical cleaning agent” and died. Thirteen others were taken [...]

By |2019-11-14T17:48:11+00:00November 14th, 2019|Chemicals, Current Events, Workplace Safety|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, [...]

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 [...]

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