Out of the Blocks: Credit for Human Response

“Fear is often our immediate response to uncertainty.”  — Gabrielle Bernstein In 2001, when the CCPS book, Layer of Protection Analysis: Simplified Process Risk Assessment, “the purple book”, stated that human response is “a relatively weak protection layer” and “less reliable than engineering controls”, many people were willing to accept that piece of conventional wisdom. [...]

Size Matters: Sampling for PSM Compliance Audits

“Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable.”  — Oscar G. Foellinger, 1927 As an engineering student, I once used empirical data to solve a design problem. The approach gave a reasonable answer, but my professor scolded me. “Mere curve fitting,” he sneered. “Good engineering requires working from first principles.” I didn’t agree then, [...]

By |2019-10-24T15:20:35+00:00October 24th, 2019|Process 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, [...]

Someone Else’s Experience

“Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.”  — C.S.Lewis We all learn from experience. When it comes to brutal lessons, though, it is better to learn from someone else’s experience.  In the course of our work, clients have shared some experiences with us that everyone can learn from.  [...]

By |2019-09-26T13:14:16+00:00September 26th, 2019|Process Safety, Workplace Safety|0 Comments

PSM Auditor: Coach or Umpire?

“Umpires don’t make the rules.  They apply them…They make sure everybody plays by the rules.  But it is a limited role.  Nobody ever went to a ballgame to see the umpire.”  — Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts A call about doing a PSM audit usually begins with a question from the caller about whether [...]

Seven Questions: The Essence of HazOps

“A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.”  — Francis Bacon There are about a gazillion “best” ways to do HazOps. What they all have in common, however, is that they use worksheets that are set up as tables that look at deviations in a node. For each deviation, a HazOp team considers “Causes”, “Consequences”, “Safeguards”, [...]

By |2019-08-29T14:38:07+00:00August 29th, 2019|PHA, Process Safety, Process Safety Management|0 Comments

Emotional Stress and Its Effect on Safety

“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion.”  — Dale Carnegie Perfect lives don’t exist.  We’ve all experienced loss, misfortune or pain.  No one is a stranger to emotional stress.  And emotional stress affects work performance, particularly safety.  A study conducted by the U.K. Royal [...]

By |2019-07-25T13:10:13+00:00July 25th, 2019|Workplace Safety|0 Comments

One Small Step

“If we can put a man on the moon, why can’t we…”  — Nearly Everyone Fifty years ago, humans first walked on the moon. It was and remains a remarkable and courageous feat of technology and determination. Having achieved it, though, most of society lost interest and moved on. Humans haven’t been back on the [...]

By |2019-07-18T13:47:20+00:00July 18th, 2019|Current Events, Process Safety|0 Comments

A Process Safety Hat Trick

“I hated being pregnant, but I never minded being in labor.  I knew I would get a prize at the end.”  — Chris Schmidt, mother of four Things have been a little crazy in Saint Louis for the past week. Founded in 1967, the Blues Hockey Club has finally won a Stanley Cup. Everyone feels [...]