Safety Moment #26: A Missed Opportunity

Failure to capture the experience of a retired superintendent

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 take charge of the re-start because they knew that his experience would help them get up to speed in as short a time as possible.

He did return; he spent most of two days and nights in the control room directing the startup. His knowledge and experience were such that he was able to do all of this from memory — he did not need operating procedures or checklists. And he brought the refinery back on line in considerably less time than if they had had to rely on workers with less experience.

But management missed an opportunity. If they had made a video of him standing there barking out orders like the captain of a ship they would have had a wonderful training guide for people who were new to the facility. But they did not make that video — a wonderful opportunity was lost.

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