The Case for Safety Cases

The Deepwater Horizon/Macondo catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) in the year 2010 demonstrated the need for new safety management regulations. The draft regulations went through various iterations, and the name of the responsible government agency changed twice. In the end, the SEMS (Safety and Environmental Management System) regulation became a requirement for offshore oil and gas operations in the United States.

The Cruise Ship’s Galley

A process safety expert and his wife went on a cruise. Part of the cruise included a tour of the ship’s impressive galley and food-serving facilities. The tour was led by one of the ship’s sous chefs.

The process safety expert realized that he was looking at a small chemical plant. In front of him were processes that involved chemical reactions, heat exchange and moderately high pressures. So he naturally started to ask the sous chef HAZOP-style questions on the following lines.

Q: Do you use natural gas for cooking?

Not the Whole Truth

Safety professionals are rightly making increasing use of photographs and videos to train and educate the workforce, and to analyze incidents. In particular, security cameras often provide a fine record of an event as it unfolds.

However, it is important to be careful. Not only can images be deliberately changed, but the camera may not record everything of relevance. The following set of pictures was taken by a process safety professional who was visiting the Grand Canyon as a tourist. So, there is no doubt as to their legitimacy.

Safety Moment #44: Slug Catchers

The fluids flowing through many pipelines are two phase, i.e., a mixture of liquid and gas. Ideally the two phases separate out with the liquid at the bottom section of the pipe. The two phases flow together to a processing facility that separates the two phases. In practice, however, the two phases often travel at different rates which means that they can form slugs whereby the composition of the stream at different sections is almost all liquid or almost all vapor.