Here We Go Again: Defunding the CSB

“Here we go again. Fighting for resources. What the hell am I doing here?”  — Brad Pitt as Roy McBride in Ad Astra I just received an email from a client. They were alarmed that the proposed Federal budget included, again, defunding the Chemical Safety Board, and wanted to know what they could do to [...]

By |2020-02-13T16:59:10+00:00February 13th, 2020|Current Events, Workplace Safety|0 Comments

Villains, Victims, and Heroes in Process Safety

“You’re a hero one day, you’re a villain another day.”  — Vincent Tan Every good story is a story of conflict. It has a villain. It has a victim. And in the best stories, it has a hero. The story of a process incident or scenario is no different. It has villains—causes. It has victims—receptors, [...]

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 [...]

Improving Human Performance Reliability

 “We must accept human error as inevitable - and design around that fact.”  — Donald Berwick The idea of human error and its contribution to industrial incidents has been the center of debate in recent years.  If you’ve been part of more than one incident investigation, you’ve probably experienced an incident being attributed to human [...]

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 [...]