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, [...]

Changing the Bet: The Safety Experience

“When you gamble with safety, you bet your life.”  Slogan on an industrial entrance mat The biggest obstacle to getting people to heed safety training is that unsafe behavior does not result in certain death. The problem with a safety slogan like, “When you gamble with safety, you bet your life,” is that most people, [...]

By |2019-10-03T14:19:21+00:00October 3rd, 2019|Training, Workplace Safety|0 Comments

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

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+00:00August 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+00:00June 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+00:00May 23rd, 2019|Process Safety|0 Comments