By the Book: Procedure Violations in Incident Investigations

“There is almost no human action or decision that cannot be made to look flawed and less sensible in the misleading light of hindsight.  It is essential that the critic should keep himself constantly aware of that fact.”  — Lord Anthony Hidden One of the insidious effects of hindsight bias is that it puts much [...]

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

Lock the Gates Behind You

“If you want zero risk in the plant, send everyone home and lock the gate.”  — Industrial safety proverb I don’t remember when I first heard it, but I know I’ve said it. Risk is inherent to the chemical enterprise. We can reduce it, but we cannot eliminate it entirely. Zero risk is not an [...]

By | 2018-12-20T13:45:58+00:00 December 20th, 2018|Current Events, Process Safety, 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. [...]

Things We Worry About: Plane Crashes

“You are now statistically more likely to be elected president of the United States in your lifetime than you are to die in a plane crash. What an amazing achievement as a society! But what we end up focusing on are the catastrophic failures that are incredibly rare but happen every now and then.” – [...]

Operator Stress: How Does it Impact Safety?

“I’ve never seen a tombstone that read ‘Here lies such and such, he was a really great asset to his company.’”  Unknown Have you ever tried to make an important decision or complete a task when you’re tired and under stress?  Probably so, which means you know it isn’t fun or easy.  In many industrial [...]

By | 2018-09-27T15:31:43+00:00 September 27th, 2018|Process Safety, Workplace Safety|0 Comments

Before You Hear It on the News

“I just wanted to call you and let you know before you heard it on the news.”  —Mike Schmidt When we were newlyweds, my husband once called me at work to let me know that he was OK. He wanted to tell me about something that might show up on the local newscast later in [...]

By | 2018-08-30T15:50:43+00:00 August 30th, 2018|Current Events, Workplace Safety|0 Comments

Changing Safety Culture

“How many psychologists does it take to change a lightbulb? Just one, but the lightbulb really has to want to change.”  Anonymous A former student, now working in industry, recently called me. He said he had a safety question. “How do you change safety culture? I can’t find that in my notes from your class.” [...]

By | 2018-03-29T13:36:06+00:00 March 29th, 2018|Process Safety, Workplace Safety|0 Comments