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

Deadly Explosion…At a Chocolate Factory?

“The fact is the media never gets off the interstate unless there’s a major explosion.”  — Jim Harrison On Friday, March 24, 2023, shortly before 5 pm local time, an explosion leveled the R.M. Palmer Company chocolate factory in West Reading, Pennsylvania, killing seven workers. How does a chocolate factory explode? What are the explosive hazards, [...]

By |2023-08-14T15:45:53-05:00March 30th, 2023|Current Events, Gas, Process Safety|Comments Off on Deadly Explosion…At a Chocolate Factory?

Close to the Edge: Banking, Railroads, and…the Chemical Industry?

“Banking should be boring.”  — Senator Elizabeth Warren We tend to celebrate those adventurers who take big risks for the chance at big rewards, at least when it pays off. On the other hand, we tend to condemn those that take big risks but don’t suffer the consequences when their risk-taking doesn’t pay off. Especially [...]

By |2023-08-11T17:48:08-05:00March 23rd, 2023|Chemicals, Current Events, Process Safety|Comments Off on Close to the Edge: Banking, Railroads, and…the Chemical Industry?

Derailments: How a Process Safety Perspective Can Prevent Them

“Luck is not an acceptable substitute for early detection.”  — Valerie Harper Three weeks after the Norfolk Southern (NS) derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, the well-meaning editorial board at the Washington Post published an editorial on “how to fix freight rail.” They consulted with a variety of transportation experts to come up with four recommendations: [...]

By |2023-03-02T18:12:24-06:00March 2nd, 2023|Chemicals, Current Events, Process Safety|Comments Off on Derailments: How a Process Safety Perspective Can Prevent Them

What Can We Do? The Derailment in East Palestine, Ohio

“People just don’t sue doctors they really like.”  — Alice Burkin, plaintiff’s attorney Nice doctors get sued less. On the other hand, “evil corporations” are far more likely to be sued for their mistakes, or as lawyers describe it, their “negligence.” And in the consciousness of many Americans, there are few corporations more categorically evil [...]

By |2023-02-16T18:25:02-06:00February 16th, 2023|Chemicals, Current Events, Process Safety|Comments Off on What Can We Do? The Derailment in East Palestine, Ohio

Preventing Profit Over Safety: OSHA’s New Reliance on Penalties

“OSHA has issued new enforcement guidance to make its penalties more effective in stopping employers from repeatedly exposing workers to life-threatening hazards or failing to comply with certain workplace safety and health requirements.”  — Department of Labor press release, January 26, 2023 There are two common complaints about OSHA citations and fines after a fatal [...]

By |2023-02-02T15:41:50-06:00February 2nd, 2023|Current Events, Process Safety, Workplace Safety|Comments Off on Preventing Profit Over Safety: OSHA’s New Reliance on Penalties

Using CSB Incident Reporting to Spot Trends: Will We Do It?

“You can have data without information, but you cannot have information without data.”  — Daniel Keys Moran Last summer, we talked about the Chemical Safety Board’s compilation of incident data since their reporting rule became effective in March 2020. Companies experiencing catastrophic releases that result in one or more fatalities, one or more in-patient hospitalizations, [...]

By |2023-01-12T16:12:05-06:00January 12th, 2023|Chemicals, Current Events, Process Safety, Workplace Safety|Comments Off on Using CSB Incident Reporting to Spot Trends: Will We Do It?

It’s Natural, But Is It Safe?

“…made from all natural ingredients, so you know it’s safe.”  — Brian Angliss, mocking an advertisement for an ED product I once had a roommate who would go off on a rant periodically about plastic that went like this: “Not natural?! What do you mean it’s not natural?! It’s made from petrochemicals, isn’t it? And [...]

By |2022-11-11T14:14:49-06:00November 11th, 2022|Chemicals, Current Events, Process Safety|Comments Off on It’s Natural, But Is It Safe?

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?
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