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

Why Different PHA Teams Get Different Results

“Differences challenge assumptions.”  Anne Wilson Schaef There is a common misunderstanding about the nature of Process Hazard Analyses (PHAs):  that they are objective studies. By objective, we mean that different teams, working at different times and at different places, but looking at the same process, will get the same results. There is a perception that [...]

By | 2019-02-07T16:08:56+00:00 February 7th, 2019|PHA, Process Safety Management|0 Comments

Your Next Blockbuster Adventure: The PHA

“Archeology is the search for fact, not truth. If it’s truth you’re looking for, Dr. Tyree’s philosophy class is right down the hall.” — Indiana Jones, from The Last Crusade A process hazard analysis (PHA) is not a trivial exercise.  The search for process hazards takes time and effort, and it pulls a team of [...]

By | 2019-01-31T15:53:17+00:00 January 31st, 2019|PHA, Process Safety, Process Safety Management|0 Comments

Risk Tolerance Criteria: How Low Do You Go?

“Some risks are plainly acceptable and others are plainly unacceptable.”  Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens When Justice Stevens wrote that opinion for the majority in the 1980 OSHA Benzene case, he went on to add that odds of fatality of one in a billion could not be considered significant but that for odds of [...]

By | 2019-01-24T14:34:43+00:00 January 24th, 2019|Process Safety Management, Risk Assessment|0 Comments

Near Misses: Learning from Experience

“Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward.”  — Vernon Law When hit with the first winter storm of the season, everyone has to learn how to drive all over again.  In our community, freezing rain coats everything, including the roads, which makes driving especially treacherous.  A few years [...]

New Year, New Safety Goals: What’s the formula for meeting them?

“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.” Oprah Winfrey With 2018 coming to an end and 2019 just beginning, we’re provided with an opportunity to reflect on our accomplishments (and failures) of the past year while also looking ahead towards what we want to accomplish in the year [...]

By | 2018-12-27T15:32:00+00:00 December 27th, 2018|Current Events, Workplace Safety|0 Comments

Options: Reducing Risk

“To have constructive conversations about … options, one needs to take a calm look at the numbers.”  — David J.C. MacKay In addition to the usual hazards found in all jobs—transportation related fatalities, workplace violence, and slips, trips, and falls—the chemical process industries have three special hazards to worry about: fires, explosions, and toxic releases. [...]

Check Valves: Why We Do the Things We Do

“To many, total abstinence is easier than perfect moderation.”  —St. Augustine “Check valves are worthless.” Every engineer I know has heard that. Many believe it. Quite a few have said it. Yet, check valves are still made and installed. How worthless could they be? Why Use Check Valves? Check valves are designed to allow flow [...]

By | 2018-11-19T15:17:29+00:00 November 19th, 2018|Process Safety, Process Safety Management|1 Comment

Not Likely

“None of this will be important if there’s a zombie apocalypse. But how likely is that?”  —Jason Vladescu I was once at a conference where I overheard a conversation at the next table during lunch. The two of them were talking about PSAs. I quickly realized that they weren’t talking about Public Service Announcements. They [...]

By | 2018-11-15T20:42:35+00:00 November 15th, 2018|Process Safety, Risk Assessment|0 Comments