Unsafe Behaviors and Unsafe Conditions: What’s the Difference?

“I did everything right.  I don’t understand why it happened.”— Aleksandr Akimov, Chernobyl engineer You’ve probably heard of the new HBO miniseries, Chernobyl.  The show is a fairly accurate retelling of the events preceding and immediately follow the nuclear disaster that occurred in Pripyat, Ukraine on April 26, 1986.  Like any dramatized television production, it [...]

By | 2019-08-01T13:18:17+00:00 August 1st, 2019|Workplace Safety|0 Comments

As Safe as You Want to Be

“If the government wanted people to drive safely, they’d mandate a spike in the middle of each steering wheel.”  — Gordon Tullock We call economics “the dismal science.” Economist Gordon Tullock certainly reinforced that idea when he applied the economic phenomena of risk compensation to driving safety and suggested that we would all drive more [...]

By | 2019-06-06T15:27:00+00:00 June 6th, 2019|Workplace Safety|0 Comments

SIL Certification: Necessary or Sufficient?

“Contrary to what many parents tell their children, talent and hard work are neither necessary nor sufficient for economic success.”  —Robert H. Frank We are all guilty of telling tales we know to be untrue in order to encourage virtuous behavior. Parents tell their children to be good so Santa Clause will come. OSHA tells [...]

By | 2019-05-23T16:10:03+00:00 May 23rd, 2019|Process Safety|0 Comments

Doing HazOps the RIGHT Way!

“Watching two engineers argue is like watching pigs wallow in mud. Eventually you figure out that they do it because they like to.”  — Anonymous I’m still learning better ways to do HazOps. And since there are better ways, then what I am doing now couldn’t possibly be the best. So, what is the RIGHT [...]

By | 2019-05-16T13:53:51+00:00 May 16th, 2019|PHA, Procedures, Process Safety|0 Comments

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 [...]

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 [...]

Notre-Dame Burning: Don’t Wait for the Fire

“If your house were burning down and you could take away one thing, what would it be?”…”I’d take the fire.” — Jean Cocteau, interviewed by André Fraigneau The images of the Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral burning broke my heart. I am grateful that people and organizations around the world have vowed to contribute to the [...]

By | 2019-04-18T13:28:58+00:00 April 18th, 2019|Current Events, Workplace Safety|0 Comments

An Incident? Don’t Recommend Training!

“It’s not how we make mistakes, but how we correct them that defines us.”  — Rachel Wolchin One of the most common recommendations made as a result of incident safety investigations is “improved training,” especially when the investigation concludes that the incident was the result of an error. It is not because training is so [...]

Setting Limits: Where Does Your PSM-Covered Process End?

“Human genius has limits, but stupidity does not.”  — Alexandre Dumas, fils Everyone we have ever worked with is accepting, if not downright enthusiastic, about managing process safety. Likewise, everyone we have ever worked with is no more enthusiastic about complying with Process Safety Management than they are about getting a root canal. In part, [...]

By | 2019-03-28T15:02:10+00:00 March 28th, 2019|Chemicals, Process Safety, Process Safety Management|0 Comments

Grounding the Max 8: Ignoring Near Misses

“The failure of a layer of protection to prevent an incident is not the initiating cause of the incident.”  The United States just joined much of the world in grounding the Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9. The tipping point was not the crash of Indonesian Lion Air Flight 610 into the Java Sea [...]

By | 2019-03-14T16:47:23+00:00 March 14th, 2019|Current Events, Process Safety|0 Comments