June 30, 2014

A simple slogan

 Yesterday, while driving behind a car, I saw a sticker on  its rear window which said
" WEAR YOUR SEAT BELT - YOU PAID FOR IT"
 A simple yet effective slogan!

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Technology is not a complete substitute

The saga of the missing Malaysian airlines MH370 flight highlights the fact that technology is an enabler but it cannot override the human. The way in which vendors are hard selling process safety technology these days worries me. A typical case is SIL rated instrumented systems. While the statistics and numbers sound very good, no vendor is gong to tell you about the life cycle needs and cost of maintaining these systems.

Nowadays, I also see many cases of the operation staff  left out of the design loop. The net result is that the operator gets a system which leads to work overload during emergencies. Then the vendor hard sells "alarm management software"!!
Somewhere in our journey of process safety management we have forgotten Dr Trevor Kletz's inherent safety philosophy of "keeping it simple".
I often see complicated PSM systems in many "World Class" companies. These systems are "managed" by separate PSM cells.....have we forgotten that the owner of PSM is operations? I often see the systems getting more complicated because the PSM cell needs to justify their existence! (My due apologies if I have hurt anyone).

Having had the fortune to learn about process safety when the word was not in "fashion" , I pray the post bhopal generation of chemical engineers realise that managing process safety is not only about technology........design it for humans who make mistakes.....keep it simple and easy to understand.


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June 28, 2014

Visakhapatnam pharma unit blast: Condition of three critical - The Hindu

Visakhapatnam pharma unit blast: Condition of three critical - The Hindu

Thanks to Mr Subbu for sending news about the blast.
Ammonia and high temperature are dangerous due to the thermal expansion coefficient of liquid ammonia.

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June 27, 2014

Update on GAIL pipeline blast


The Hindu: GAIL pipeline blast in AP


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Pipeline fire kills 14 in AP

News filtering in of a GAIL pipeline blast in Andhra Pradesh which has reportedly killed 14 people. Read the story in this link


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June 17, 2014

2 die in steel plant accident

Thanks to Mr Subbu for sending news about Two engineers who were killed at a steel plant when they entered a container laboratory and were apparently asphyxiated by some gas.
Read about the accident in this link

When you enter analyser houses in chemical plants, ensure that the gas alarms are working and that there is no alarm before entering the confined space. As there will be tubing and other places from where gas from cylinders outside can leak, be careful.

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June 16, 2014

Major fire in Russian refinery

Major fire in Russian Refinery courtesy rt.com
See photos and videos in above link.


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The dangers of evaporating liquid nitrogen

A case study where a post graduate student died due to nitrogen inhalation is given in this link . The student was using liquid nitrogen. The accident highlights again the dangers of nitrogen.

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June 13, 2014

Improving road safety in India

Please take some time off to sign this petition. It affects all of us......

Petition to improve road safety in India


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Gas leak in Chhattisgarh’s Bhilai steel plant, 6 killed, 40 injured

A tragic accident where 6 people lost their lives when a water line to scrubber ruptured and gas leaked out: (two DGM's among those killed)

Times of India Gas leak in Chhattisgarh’s Bhilai steel plant, 6 killed, 40 injured


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June 12, 2014

How secure are your redundant systems?

An article in the Guardian highlights the importance of functional testing of your redundant systems. In the incidents mentioned, two helicopters of identical make faced a main lubrication oil system failure while airborne. Though the back up system came on line, an alarm indicated that it was not working properly, so the crew had to make emergency landings in the sea. Later it was found out that the back up system was indeed working fine, but the alarm was wrongly configured.
Read the article in this link. 


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Fire in Refinery

A news article mentions about a fire in a Chinese refinery in the sulphur recovery section. Interestingly, it mentions that the fire reignited a few hours after it was put off due to "chemical reaction of combustible material in an oil tank with fire extinguishing foam".

Read the article in this link. 

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June 9, 2014

Basics of flammability

A good basic primer on flammability, explosion protection and flammable gas detectors can be found in this link. 
PS: I am not endorsing any product - this is for information only.


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June 6, 2014

Ammonia leak hospitalises 54

An ammonia leak due to an apparent pipe burst in a fish processing plant in Tamilnadu has sent 54 of the workers to hospital. The reason is under investigation.
The ammonia leak incidents at the users end as well as incidents related with fireworks are on the increase in India. This is a good case for Large chemical manufacturing companies to take up the education and safety precautions for the small scale industries which handle hazardous chemicals.

Read about the incident in this link.


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June 4, 2014

Massive fire in Dutch plant

Explosion and fire at Dutch Chemical plant - BBC news


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June 2, 2014

Proposed changes after oil rig accident


The Coast Guard issued a Federal Register Notice of recommended interim voluntary guidelines concerning mobile offshore drilling units, or MODUs, and manned fixed and floating offshore facilities engaged in activities on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf. This is part of the Coast Guard’s continuing response to the explosion, fire and sinking of the MODU DEEPWATER HORIZON in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010.

- See more at: http://mariners.coastguard.dodlive.mil/2014/05/02/522014-federal-register-notice-of-outer-continental-shelf-units-fire-and-explosion-analyses/#sthash.zFvYwSqf.dpuf

The Report highlighted the following considerations as areas not specifically addressed by current regulations:
Minimum values are needed for explosion design loads for use in calculating the required blast resistance of structures;
Explosion risk analysis of the design and layout of each facility should be performed to identify high risk situations;
H-60 rated fire boundaries between the drilling area and adjacent accommodation spaces and spaces housing vital safety equipment may be necessary dependent on the arrangement of the facility;
Uniform guidelines for performing engineering evaluations to ensure adequate protection of bulkheads and decks separating hazardous areas from adjacent structures and escape routes for likely drill floor fire scenarios are necessary;
Performance-based fire risk analysis should be used to supplement the prescriptive requirements in the MODU Code; such analysis should use defined heat flux loads to calculate necessary levels of protection for structures, equipment, and vital systems that could be affected by fires on the drill floor;
Maximum allowable radiant heat exposure limits for personnel at the muster stations and lifesaving appliance launching stations in anticipated evacuation scenarios should be implemented.

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