2018 BLS Fatality Report: Has Anything Changed?

“The more things change, the more they remain the same.”  — Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr When I was a young engineer living in a small town in central Massachusetts, I would walk into the town center to pick up groceries and go to the post office. On the way, there was a body shop. I got [...]

By |2019-12-26T16:34:36+00:00December 26th, 2019|Workplace Safety|0 Comments

Everyone Gets a Prize: Employee Participation

“Nor should participation trophies be offered for simply showing up.”  — Kevin Dickenson OSHA is fond of pointing out that the Process Safety Management Standard, 29 CFR-1910.119 (PSM), is a performance-based standard.  While they generally avoid telling us how to comply with standard, they expect us to comply with standard, nonetheless.  There is no prize [...]

By |2019-12-12T15:11:38+00:00December 12th, 2019|Procedures, Process Safety Management|1 Comment

Inconceivable: Unrecognized Hazards

“You keep using that word.  I do not think it means what you think it means.”  - Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya, in The Princess Bride I find the phrase “While we never anticipate a loss of cabin pressure…” incredibly annoying.  To anticipate means to think of something that will or might happen in the [...]

By |2019-12-05T14:08:07+00:00December 5th, 2019|Process Safety, Risk Assessment, Safety Lifecycle|1 Comment

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 [...]

A Fatal Cleaning Incident: Familiarity Breeds …

“While devastated at this unimaginable loss, we are so very proud that Ryan died while trying to protect his fellow employees and restaurant patrons.”  — family of Ryan Baldera On November 7, 2019, a restaurant employee in Burlington, Massachusetts was overcome by fumes from a “strong chemical cleaning agent” and died. Thirteen others were taken [...]

By |2019-11-14T17:48:11+00:00November 14th, 2019|Chemicals, Current Events, Workplace Safety|0 Comments

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. [...]

Dia de los Muertos: Remembering the Dead

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  — George Santayana Our offices on Cherokee Street exist in the midst of a vibrant Hispanic community. So here in our neighborhood, Dia de los Muertos is in getting in full swing and will be observed through November 2. Dia de los Muertos, the [...]

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, [...]

Fools Rush In: What We Really Expect

“For Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread.”  — Alexander Pope I once led some process safety training that involved people from several different plants from around the world. After almost a week together, the people in the training became pretty comfortable with one another.  One of the last topics of the training was [...]

By |2019-10-10T14:13:31+00:00October 10th, 2019|Procedures, Workplace Safety|0 Comments