Safety Moment #64: Equipment Spacing (Hydrocarbon Storage Tanks)

The material in this safety moment is taken from the book Plant Design and Operations and from the ebook Siting and Layout. Further discussion to do with layout and spacing issues is provided in the article Siting and Layout of Process Facilities. In Safety Moment #57: Equipment Spacing (Pumps/Fireproofed Pipe Racks) we started a discussion to do with the layout of equipment in a process or…

Safety Moment #63: Happy Motoring

There is no shortage of written material to do with technical topics, including process safety management. But only a tiny number of papers or articles establish a place for themselves in history. Virtually all that we read or write is evolutionary rather than revolutionary. There are a few exceptions to this generalization. Occasionally someone writes a paper or article that changes the way in…

Safety Moment #62: From Complicated to Complex

The discipline of process safety management is mature. And, as discussed in posts such as Safety Moment #31: The 26-Year Old HAZOP and Where Then Shall (Process Safety) Wisdom Be Found?, many process safety professionals are looking for new areas in which to apply their skills and knowledge. In any performance-based program such as process safety, the work is never finished — there is always…

Safety Moment #61: Hard Times for These Times

We have just released the ebook A Brief History of Process Safety Management. The first chapter shows how safety became a value within industry. No matter how poor a facility's safety performance may be, no one ever says, “Safety doesn’t matter”. But this attitude did not always hold true. In the year 1843 Charles Dickens wrote his book Hard Times for These Times (later shortened to just Hard…

Safety Moment #59: In-Kind / Not In-Kind Change

We have packaged the ideas discussed in these safety moments to do with defining "Change" into the PowerPoint Presentation: Managing Change — Defining Change. This is a set of slides that you can use for meetings and to structure discussions within your own organization.   Two recent Safety Moments have discussed the difficult, yet important, topic of defining “Change”. Change is a constant in…

Safety Moment #58: From “change” to “Change”

Background In an earlier Safety Moment (Safety Moment #5: Management of Change — Defining Change) we discussed some of the difficulties to do with defining the word “Change” in the context of Management of Change. After all, change is a constant in any industrial operation. Process conditions, equipment items, personnel, contractors are changing all the time. So how do we know when a change is…

Safety Moment #57: Equipment Spacing (Pumps/Fireproofed Pipe Racks)

The material in this safety moment is taken from the book Plant Design and Operations and from the ebook Siting and Layout. Further discussion to do with layout and spacing issues is provided in the article Siting and Layout of Process Facilities. Pump seals are a frequent source of leaks in process and energy facilities. Moreover, the discharged liquid will normally be at high pressure, so…

Safety Moment #56: Sinking Standards

This month is the 30 year anniversary of the Piper Alpha disaster. And, as to be expected, many people have published articles, blogs and web pages to do with that event, and the lessons that it continues to teach us. But there is an earlier maritime event which probably had a greater impact in its day than did Piper Alpha in ours. And that event was the sinking of the Titanic. (The image at the…

Safety Moment #55: A Few More Process Safety Basics

Our first set of Process Safety Moments are available in the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments.   Our recent safety moment — Process Safety Management — noted that the term ‘Process Safety Management’ can become somewhat diluted to the point where it can carry such a variety of meanings that it begins to lose any meaning. In response to this concern we suggested that we go back to basics, and…

Safety Moment #54: The Process Safety Carousel

One of the challenges to do with process safety management (PSM) is circular reasoning or logic. Many of the PSM elements tend to become self-referential. Process hazards analyses can illustrate this conundrum with discussions on the following lines. Could high temperature in this vessel lead to a serious incident? What is high temperature? It’s that temperature that could cause a serious…

Safety Moment #53: 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…

Safety Moment #52: The Important Few / The Unimportant Many

The material shown here has been extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments.   It is a truism that all organizations have to operate with limited resources. And this statement applies to process safety as much as it does to any other business activity. Management may declare that safety is the top priority and that they will do “whatever it takes” to achieve safety goals. But the…

Safety Moment #51: Limitations of Risk Matrices

Risk matrices are widely used in process safety management programs, but they have their limitations. The material here is taken from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments. Additional information is provided in the book Process Risk and Reliability Management.   Risk matrices are widely used in the process industries. Details as to their design and implementation vary considerably from company…

Safety Moment #50: Temporary Change

The material shown here has been extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments and in the book Process Risk and Reliability Management .   Management of Change (MOC) lies at the heart of a successful process safety management system. If a facility is properly designed and constructed then virtually all incidents are caused by someone, somewhere making a change and inadvertently taking…

Safety Moment #49: Safety Manual: Table of Contents

This Safety Moment provides a generic Table of Contents for a Safety Manual. The material provided here is extracted from the ebooks 52 Process Safety Moments and Occupational Safety, and from the 2nd edition of the book Plant Design and Operations.   Many companies develop a Safety Manual as a means of organizing operations and maintenance work. Naturally, the details of what is in the Manual…

Safety Moment #48: What To Do?

The material shown here has been extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments and in the book Plant Design and Operations.   In Safety Moments #2: Common Process Hazards — Static Electricity and #7: No One There it was noted that the only way of achieving perfect safety is to remove people from the location of the hazard. We adapt one of Trevor Kletz’s phrases by saying, “If a person’s…

Safety Moment #47: Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

The material shown here has been extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments and in the book Plant Design and Operations.   Contents Lagging Indicators Leading Indicators Further Information The management consultant Peter Drucker (1909–2005) is said to have come up with the famous phrase, “What get measured gets done”. His observation applies to assessments as to the effectiveness…

Safety Moment #46: Interface Hazards Analysis

The material shown here has been extracted from the ebooks 52 Process Safety Moments and Hazard Identificationand the books Process Risk and Reliability Management and Offshore Safety Management.   Most hazards analyses focus on single, discrete systems. For example, a refinery hazards analysis team may carry out its review on just the catalytic cracking unit; a pipeline company may analyze…

Safety Moment #45: Inherent Safety

The material shown here has been extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments and in the book Process Risk and Reliability Management .   Content Inherent Safety Passive Safety Active Safety Procedural / Administrative Safety Much of the literature to do with process safety stresses its difference from occupational or personal safety. But process safety can itself be divided into the…

Safety Moment #44: Types of Maintenance

The material shown here has been extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments and in the book Plant Design and Operations.   Content Repair Maintenance Condition-Based Maintenance Scheduled Maintenance Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) Maintenance work typically falls into one of the following four categories:   Repair; Condition-based maintenance; Scheduled maintenance; and…

Safety Moment #43: “Double Contingency Doesn’t Count, You Know”

The material shown here has been extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments and the book Process Risk and Reliability Management .   During process hazards analyses it is common to hear phrases such as, "Double contingency doesn't count, you know". What the speaker means is that only single failures should be considered when determining what could go wrong and how risk can be managed…

Safety Moment #42: The Simultaneous Operations (SIMOPs) Matrix

The material provided here is extracted from the ebooks 52 Process Safety Moments and Plant Design and Operations.   The term Simultaneous Operations (SIMOPs) is used when two or more activities (operations, maintenance, construction) are being carried out at the same time and location. A simple example would be when a construction crew is carrying out some welding close to where an operations…

Safety Moment #41: The Survivability of Utilities

This Safety Moment discusses the importance of keeping utilities operating during an emergency. The material here is taken from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments.   If a facility suffers from a major event such as an explosion or large fire it is generally critical that the utility systems remain functional. Examples include: Maintaining a supply of instrument air to the instrumentation and…

Safety Moment #40: The Missing Operating Procedure

This Safety Moment discusses a case where a hazards analysis found that there was no operating manual for a very critical operation. When the manual was located it was noted that following the instructions as written would cause a serious incident. The material provided here is extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments.   An oil refinery located in a major metropolitan area used a…

Safety Moment #39: Response to a Threatening Call

This Safety Moment provides guidance as to how to handle a threatening telephone call. The material provided here is extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments.   Process facilities are potential targets for malicious acts, ranging from simple vandalism all the way to major terrorist acts. Therefore employees should know how to respond to suspicious activities and threats. (At the same…

Safety Moment #38: Memories

Piper Alpha Monument The material shown here has been extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments.   Many of our Safety Moments stress the value of learning from incidents — large and small. Some of the larger incidents become part of the mental furniture of those of us who work in the process safety business. But we need to recognize that events that are part of our background are “…

Safety Moment #37: Maximum Allowable Working Pressure (MAWP)

The material shown here has been extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments. Further information is provided in the article Pressure Tests and in the book Plant Design and Operations.   Contents Definition Design Process Effect of Temperature Pressure vessels must always operate at a pressure lower than their Maximum Allowable Working Pressure (MAWP). The ASME (American Society of…

Safety Moment #36: Common Process Hazards — Utilities

The material shown here has been extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments and in the book Process Risk and Reliability Management .   Process-related hazards are often initiated by problems with utility systems because a failure in the utility system can create multiple problems simultaneously at many different locations. Hence utility failures are often an example of a common cause…

Safety Moment #35: Safety Shower Layout

The material shown here has been extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments and in the book Plant Design and Operations.   Many industrial facilities handle corrosive chemicals that can cause serious burns and tissue damage if they come into contact with a person’s skin. When a person is splashed with one of these chemicals, he or she needs to be able to quickly get to an emergency…

Safety Moment #34: The Purloined Letter

One of the world’s first detective stories, Edgar Allen Poe’s The Purloined Letter, was written in the year 1844. It is set in the City of Paris. In the story the bad guy — Minister D — has in his possession a letter containing compromising information about an unnamed lady. He is using this information to blackmail her. There is only one copy of the letter (reminder: there were no copying…

Safety Moment #33: Bang, Bang

This is the first section of the story Bang Bang. Discussion to do with the importance of story telling is provided at the topic page Story Telling. The page also describes how to structure a story and how to make it relevant to the process safety community.   An electrical power plant used a set of coal-fired boilers to generate high pressure steam. The boiler house was under the control of a…

Safety Moment #32: Hot Tapping

The material shown here has been extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments and in the book Plant Design and Operations.   Welding a new nozzle on to a pipe or equipment item normally requires that the system be drained, depressurized and purged. This is a time-consuming and potentially risky process. In order to expedite the change, it is sometimes possible to make the attachment…

Safety Moment #31: The 26-Year Old HAZOP

The material shown here has been extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments and from the book Process Risk and Reliability Management .     Happy Birthday The OSHA (Occupational Health & Safety Administration) process safety management (PSM) rule is 26 years old on June 1st 2018. That’s 26 years — that’s a long time. The standard is older than young people now entering the…

Safety Moment #30: HAZOPs and P&ID Reviews

The material shown here has been extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments and from the book Process Risk and Reliability Management .   The following is a quotation from a process safety expert. I recall once working with a client on a small plant expansion. In the morning we reviewed the P&IDs. In the afternoon we conducted the HAZOP. Same drawings, same people, same room —…

Safety Moment #29: The Hazards Analysis Report

The material shown here has been extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments and from the book Process Risk and Reliability Management .   One of the biggest complaints that companies have about hazards analyses is that the report following the team meetings is inadequate or delivered too late. Some of the reasons provided to explain the inadequacy of the report include the following…

Safety Moment #28: Catching Samples

This Safety Moment describes the techniques used for catching samples of hazardous and flammable materials. The material provided here is extracted from the ebooks 52 Process Safety Moments and Operations.   Virtually all process and energy facilities require the routine catching of samples of gas and liquid streams. Generally the samples are taken to a lab for analysis. The information…

Safety Moment #27: Audits and Assessments

The material shown here has been extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments and from the book Process Risk and Reliability Management .  Evaluations of risk management programs can take one of two forms. The first is a formal audit in which a management program is measured against an external standard such as a regulation, an engineering standard or corporate benchmark. An audit…

Safety Moment #26: A Missed Opportunity

The material shown here has been extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments.   An oil refinery underwent an unscheduled shutdown. The problems that had lead to the shutdown were corrected and the refinery was ready to be re-started. The refinery superintendent — who knew the facility extremely well — had recently retired for health reasons. However management asked him to come back and…

Safety Moment #25: Noise Limits

The material shown here has been extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments and in the book Plant Design and Operations.   Noise Limits   Exposure to high levels of noise is one of the most pervasive health issues on process and energy facilities. Therefore, it is important to define the maximum level of noise that is allowed in various situations. There are many regulations and…

Safety Moment #24: Personnel Transfer (Billy Pugh) Baskets

The material shown here has been extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments and the book Offshore Safety Management .   Personnel transfer baskets are used to move personnel from platforms and rigs to and from service boats. Net Baskets The traditional type of basket, sometimes referred to a Billy Pugh basket, consists of ropes attached to a hook at the top and a circular frame at…

Safety Moment #23: More Dangers of Safety

The material shown here has been extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments.   In Safety Moment #1: The Dangers of Safety it was pointed out that programs and actions to improve safety can be a factor in a major catastrophe. This Safety Moment describes an incident involving a passenger and a freight train that follows the same theme. On February 4th 2018 an Amtrak passenger train in…

Safety Moment #22: Clear Your Mind of Cant

The material provided here is extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments. In modern English this word prejudice has, unfortunately, developed a negative tone as in, “She is prejudiced against < a group that she does not like >”. (It can occasionally connote a positive attitude — for example, when someone is prejudiced in favor of their hometown sports team.) But the word …

Safety Moment #21: The Road Not Taken

The material shown here has been extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments.   Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel bothAnd be one traveler, long I stoodAnd looked down one as far as I couldTo where it bent in the undergrowth; Then took the other, as just as fair,And having perhaps the better claim,Because it was grassy and wanted wear;Though as for that…

Safety Moment #20: "Young Man, It’s Turtles All The Way Down"

The material shown here has been extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments and from the book Process Risk and Reliability Management .   Root Cause Analysis   Safety Moment #18: Incident Investigation: Words, Words, Words show how words mean different things to different people. Hence there can never be total agreement as to the what is a true “root cause”. Safety Moment #19: Root…

Safety Moment #19: Root Cause Analysis

The material provided here is extracted from the ebooks 52 Process Safety Moments and Incident Investigation and Root Cause Analysis.   Safety Moment #18: Incident Investigation: Words, Words, Words discussed the importance of defining the words that we use. It also raised the problem to do with the meaning of the term ‘Root Cause Analysis’. An 800 person forum comprised of Root Cause Analysis…

Safety Moment #18: Incident Investigation: Words, Words, Words

This Safety Moment discusses the importance of using the correct words when conducing incident investigations. The material provided here is extracted from the ebooks 52 Process Safety Moments and Incident Investigation and Root Cause Analysis.   The title of this Safety Moment is derived from a scene in Shakespeare’s Hamlet in which the hero disparages the meaning of what is written in the…

Safety Moment #17: Safe Limits

The material shown here has been extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments and from the book Process Risk and Reliability Management .   During hazard analyses statements such as the following are commonly heard. Could high temperature cause an incident? What is high temperature? It is that temperature that could cause an incident. In order to break circular reasoning of this type…

Safety Moment #16: Common Process Hazards — Drainage Systems

The material shown here has been extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments and in the book Plant Design and Operations.   Drainage systems have the following purposes: Ensure that accidentally spilled flammable and toxic liquids flow to a safe location. Provide a means for safely and environmentally responsibly disposing of liquid inventory. Properly handle surface water,…

Safety Moment #15: Important HAZOP Guidewords

The material shown here has been extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments and from the book Process Risk and Reliability Management .   One of the philosophies that lies behind Process Safety Management (PSM) is that each chemical process is unique. Therefore it is not possible to have a prescriptive standard that tells operating companies what to do. Instead, companies have to…

Safety Moment #14: Operating Procedures — Defining Terms

The material provided here is extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments. We also provide a PowerPoint presentation on this topic that can be used in your safety meetings and in process safety management discussions. Safety Moment #18: Incident Investigation: Words, Words, Words stressed the importance of using the correct terminology when discussing process safety management issues.…

Safety Moment #13: Education and Training

The material shown here has been extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments and from the book Process Risk and Reliability Management .   Contents   Overview Training Troubleshooting / Education Expert Assistance Further Information Overview Most process safety-related incidents involve some type of human involvement and error. Not only is human error usually a contributing…

Safety Moment #12: The (Process Safety) Two Second Rule

The material shown here has been extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments.   Contents Introduction Polystyrene Runaway Reaction Piper Alpha Conclusion Further Information Introduction The Two Second Rule is used in driver training. The rule is that a driver should ideally stay at least two seconds behind any vehicle that is directly in front of his or her vehicle. This is…

Safety Moment #11: Black Swans and Bow Ties

The material shown here has been extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments.   Contents Black Swans Bow Ties Conclusion Further Information Black Swans Nicholas TalebPublished in 2007, Nassim Nicholas Taleb's book The Black Swan achieved almost overnight fame (a circumstance that is, in itself, something of a black swan). He defined a black swan event as having the following…

Safety Moment #10: Common Process Safety Hazards - Nitrogen

The material shown here has been extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments and the book Plant Design and Operations.   Contents Introduction Oxygen Contamination Breathing Air Backup to Instrument Air Cylinder Color Coding Introduction Nitrogen is an inert gas — in most situations it will not react with other chemicals. In particular, it does not support the combustion of the…

Safety Moment #9: Let’s Not Make Common Cause

The material shown here has been extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments and from the book Process Risk and Reliability Management .   Contents Overview Utilities Example Fukushima-Daiichi Further Information Overview A common cause effect (or common mode) event is a single event that negates the effectiveness of spare equipment or backup systems. If the common cause event…

Safety Moment #8: “But We’re Different, You Know”

Contents Introduction Industry Special Features Transportation Railroads Hyperloop Two-Way Street Further Information Introduction Process safety consultants usually find themselves working for a range of different companies and industries. (This variety is one of the most satisfying aspects of the work.) And, wherever they work they run across the statement, “But we’re different, you…

Safety Moment #7: No One There

The material provided here is extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments. . Contents The Incident Lessons Learned Further Information The Incident A contractor was dewatering a 10 mile section of pipe after a hydrostatic test. He was using a foam pig that was pushed along by compressed air to displace the water. The water was removed from a 12" bypass line. The pig got stuck…

Safety Moment #6: Qualitative Fault Trees

Contents Overview Further Information Overview Safety Moment #31: the 26-Year Old HAZOP discusses the need for new methods for hazards analysis that can help generate fresh insights as to how incidents may occur. Techniques such as Layers of Protection Analysis (LOPA) and Bow-Tie method that have been introduced in recent years provide different and fresh ways of understanding risk. Another…

Safety Moment #5: Management of Change — Defining Change

The information provided here has been extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments.   Overview Management of Change (MOC) is rightly recognized as being at the core of a successful Process Safety Management (PSM) program. Indeed, it could be argued that all undesirable incidents on an operating facility are due to someone, somewhere making an uncontrolled change. But, when implementing…

Safety Moment #4: Excess Flow Valves

The material shown here has been extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments and in the book Plant Design and Operations.   Contents Introduction Operation Concerns Further Information Introduction The purpose of an Excess Flow Valve (EFV) is to stop the flow of gas or liquid through a pipe if the flow rate exceeds a specified value. Typically, they are spring-operated, although…

Safety Moment #3: Flammable Range and Flash Point

The material shown here has been extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments and in the book Plant Design and Operations.   Contents Introduction Flammable Range Flash Point Flammability and Ignition Limits Autoignition Temperature Further Information Introduction For many process and energy facilities, fires and explosions represent the greatest potential for a catastrophic event…

Safety Moment #2: Common Process Hazards — Static Electricity

The material shown here has been extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments and in the book Plant Design and Operations.   Contents Introduction Gas Tank Fire Static as a Source of Ignition Fail Safe Equipment Emergency Response Further Information Introduction Static electricity is a common cause of ignition in industrial facilities, particularly when loading and unloading tank…

Safety Moment #1: The Dangers of Safety

The material shown here has been extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments.   Contents Introduction Mumbai High North Piper Alpha Stair Treads Lifeboat Drill Further Information Introduction Analysis of catastrophic events frequently shows that one of the causes was that someone was improving a safety system and, in doing so, degraded the integrity of the system — at least for…

Safety Moments for the Process and Energy Industries

Safety Moments Safety Moments are short stories or anecdotes that illustrate some aspect of personal or process safety. Generally they feature a near miss or foolish event that had the potential to be much worse than it was. They can be used to start a meeting or a task assignment. We publish a wide range of Safety Moments at this site. A list of the what is currently available is shown at the…