May 14, 2016

Fire in chemical factory near Hyderabad

 Reports coming in of a major fire in a chemical factory near Hyderabad. Read and see video about it in this link.

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May 13, 2016

Working at height safety by OSHA


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May 6, 2016

Internal corrosion of gas cylinders and fire extinguishers

Thanks to Shri M.K.Rao, Executive Director of India Glycols limited for sending the following links to articles on how internal corrosion can effect gas cylinders and CO2 fire extinguishers.

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May 4, 2016

German nuclear plant in Bavaria infected with malware, logins compromised

Are your control systems protected? I see there is a lack of enforcement of USB stick policy in many companies. 

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May 2, 2016

Does government mean business on safety audit?

Does government mean business on safety audit?: Promises by people holding high office to make it mandatory have remained only on paper
Frequent industrial accidents have raised public alarm with the talk of conducting safety audit of each and

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May 1, 2016

Are we forgetting lessons learnt in Process Safety Management?

I had recently posted this question in a forum: "In many of the process incidents I investigate, I see an eerie connection to what we had done wrong ages ago when we started our careers. This was a time in the 80's. For all you folks of that vintage, are you experiencing the same? A feeling of Deja Vu?" 
Here are some of the replies:

"Personally, I feel that things are very different now than when I started my engineering career.  When I started in 1977, I was told that I should have 10% of my time each week free to keep up with the latest technical journals and research topics that would help me learn how to improve my skills.  If I didn't have that time, I was to discuss it with my supervisor.  Try that in today's world.
I worked as a process engineer for a major chemical company in the early 1980s.  Any project involved multiple meetings with various departments and several levels of management.  Then I had to hand write a proposal and get it typed up.  It had to include what we were planning to do, why we wanted to do it, what other options had been considered, potential downsides and hazards, mitigations for those hazards, and any other information that I thought was necessary to get my boss, and possibly his boss, to sign off without having to rewrite the proposal and send it back to typing.
Today, most of this type of project work is handled with computer programs and emails.  This seems to have greatly reduced the amount of face-to-face time that people spend on projects.  This means that younger engineers do not get the benefit of all the things that the older engineers have seen in their careers.  This may what you mean by making the same mistakes that were made back then.  I can still remember several little tidbits that I learned just sitting in meetings with people who had been around awhile.
Based on what I see in MOCs, we are not documenting things nearly as completely as we did back then.  Maybe I just didn't want to have to rewrite the proposal, but I tried to be very thorough with my proposals, which meant a lot of research and discussion up front.  I do not see that level of detail in most of the proposals that come across my desk now."

"I write from Canada.  We may be typical, or we may be unique in the following challenges:
- Downsizing in the 80's and early 90's reduced numbers of engineers, amount of engineering supervision, formal training, access to journals at work, and conference attendance.  Far fewer well-rounded engineers in the 45-60 age group now work in Canada because of that attrition and lack of development and mentoring
- Computer use in university courses increased in the same time period.  Answers came out of the computers, rather than working through the problems on paper.  A certain loss of the "feel" for the right answer tends to plague our younger engineers--there is a tendency to trust what the computer results say without the same level of engineering judgement that people had to have in "the old days"
- In Canada, due to the boom and bust nature of the oil and gas business, when Canadian-trained engineers can't fill the job market, engineers are hired from other countries.  While the education received may be comparable to Canada's, proper understanding of the severe challenges of process facilities in very cold climates is often missing, and things aren't built properly to get through the first winter
- Pursuant to the previous point, familiarity with Canadian & provincial codes, standards, practices, and environmental legislation can be lacking in foreign-hired engineers, which can mean re-design is required.  Re-design can introduce process hazards late in the design stages.
- The "lean and mean" mandate of many of the operating companies drives projects to be "fast-tracked" as a rule, rather than the exception.  Equipment is ordered before the design has gone through a proper process hazards analysis review.  Furthermore, serious errors in design may or may not be discovered during the PHA because it, in turn is fast-tracked.
- Fast-tracking projects and finding errors in the design at a late stage drives band-aid solutions to address the hazards that are found--typically, more alarms and emergency shutdowns and interlocks.  This drives more maintenance costs and the need for more instrument technicians.
-  The "lean and mean" mandate of the operating companies limits the numbers of instrument technicians employed.  Everybody ends up working more overtime, being tired, lacking ownership, and incidents are more likely to occur.
Bottom line:  I agree.  If we don't see more process safety incidents in Canada over the next decade, it will be because of very good fortune.  On the upside, our universities are including more training in process safety, and superior PHA tools such as PFFM are available--the question is, will we have the courage and commitment to apply them"

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