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|0 Comments

Administrative Controls: The Invisible Safeguards

“Prepare and prevent, don’t repair and repent.” – Author Unknown Most safeguards can be easily observed. They might be the mechanical guards that prevent one’s fingers getting ripped off by moving parts, the fences that keep unauthorized people out of a hazardous area, or the alarms that blare through the plant when the reactor reaches [...]

3 Criteria for Picking LOPA Scenarios

“The easiest way to solve a problem is to pick an easy one.”  — Franklin P. Jones We love having choices. We hate making choices. What if we pick wrong? There is no shortage of people ready to tell us. It is always helpful to have criteria for choosing, or to be honest, to justify [...]

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

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, [...]

Double Jeopardy: Impossible?

“Everything is impossible until it is done.”  — Robert H. Goddard In 1921, annoyed with ignorant criticism, Robert Goddard published a piece in Scientific American in defense of the potential for travel to the moon. It’s always easier to say something is impossible than to address the potential of it happening. Double Jeopardy When someone [...]

Options: Reducing Risk

“To have constructive conversations about … options, one needs to take a calm look at the numbers.”  — David J.C. MacKay In addition to the usual hazards found in all jobs—transportation related fatalities, workplace violence, and slips, trips, and falls—the chemical process industries have three special hazards to worry about: fires, explosions, and toxic releases. [...]

Not Likely

“None of this will be important if there’s a zombie apocalypse. But how likely is that?”  —Jason Vladescu I was once at a conference where I overheard a conversation at the next table during lunch. The two of them were talking about PSAs. I quickly realized that they weren’t talking about Public Service Announcements. They [...]

By |2018-11-15T20:42:35+00:00November 15th, 2018|Process Safety, Risk Assessment|0 Comments

Things We Worry About: Plane Crashes

“You are now statistically more likely to be elected president of the United States in your lifetime than you are to die in a plane crash. What an amazing achievement as a society! But what we end up focusing on are the catastrophic failures that are incredibly rare but happen every now and then.” – [...]

Things We Worry About: In-plant Derailments

“To invent the train is to invent the rail accident of derailment.”  —Paul Virilio When most of us think of train derailments, we think of horrendous events, like the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster in 2013 that destroyed the town in Quebec and killed 47 people. Fortunately, the vast majority of train derailments associated with the chemical [...]

By |2018-10-11T15:15:59+00:00October 11th, 2018|Process Safety, Risk Assessment|0 Comments