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

“Expanded” PSM Coverage: What Has Changed?

“I don’t believe in life after death. But I do believe in some grinding destiny that watches over us on earth. If I didn’t, the safety valve would fail and the boiler would explode.”  ‑ Hedy Lamarr, inventor and actor We’ve been blowing up boilers since the dawn of the industrial revolution. By now, you’d think [...]

PHAs and LOPAs: What Would You Recommend?

“I don’t have a particular recommendation other than that we base decisions on as much hard data as possible.”  — Dorothy E. Denning The best waiters are the ones who are willing to make recommendations when you ask.  Anything but, “Well, everything is good.” Because, admit it, everything is not. And then, when you try [...]

By |2020-09-17T13:49:36+00:00September 17th, 2020|PHA, Process Safety Management, Recommendations|0 Comments

Choosing Safety: Is That How We Roll?

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”  — Maya Angelou Many St. Louis drivers view stop signs as suggestions; they don’t see a full stop is either required or expected. And this isn’t just young hooligans in muscle cars. It includes little old ladies in [...]

By |2020-07-23T14:39:39+00:00July 23rd, 2020|Process Safety, Process Safety Management|0 Comments

Managing Process Safety: Lessons from the Pandemic

“When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.”  — Samuel Johnson COVID-19, with its 14-day – fortnight – incubation period has had the effect of concentrating some of the best minds in the world. I have read several articles recently where the authors suggest how the [...]

By |2020-04-23T15:29:27+00:00April 23rd, 2020|Current Events, Process Safety|0 Comments

What If There Was No PSM Standard?

“What’s the use you learning to do right when it’s troublesome to do right and ain’t no trouble to do wrong, and the wages is just the same?”  — Mark Twain, in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn We love to hate regulations. The harder it is to comply with them, the more we hate them. [...]

By |2020-03-26T14:35:52+00:00March 26th, 2020|Process Safety, Process Safety Management|0 Comments

Everyone Gets a Prize: Employee Participation

“Nor should participation trophies be offered for simply showing up.”  — Kevin Dickenson OSHA is fond of pointing out that the Process Safety Management Standard, 29 CFR-1910.119 (PSM), is a performance-based standard.  While they generally avoid telling us how to comply with standard, they expect us to comply with standard, nonetheless.  There is no prize [...]

By |2019-12-12T15:11:38+00:00December 12th, 2019|Procedures, Process Safety Management|1 Comment

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

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 [...]

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 [...]