March 18, 2018

Ghosts of Bhopal?

In a CSB investigation report about a Nitrous oxide explosion in 2016 that killed an employee, the following causes were listed in the report. Many of the causes identified by the CSB are identical to the causes of the Bhopal gas disaster in 1984. Can you identify some of them?
 1.    XXXXXX did not evaluate inherently safer design options that could have eliminated the need for the pump;
 2.    XXXXXX never evaluated its process to identify and control process safety hazards;
3.    XXXXXX did not effectively apply the hierarchy of controls to the safeguards that the company used to prevent a possible nitrous oxide explosion;
4.    XXXXXX installed equipment that increased the likelihood of an explosion without performing a management of change safety review;
5.    XXXXXX did not apply an essential industry safety instrumentation standard, or key elements of a voluntary safe storage and handling standard, both of which are intended to prevent nitrous oxide explosions;
6.    XXXXXX safeguards that failed to prevent the explosion include an automatic shutdown safety control and an explosion prevention device;
 7.    The automatic shutdown safety control XXXXXX relied on required the XXXXXX worker to be physically present – and located immediately adjacent to the trailer truck – in order to bypass the shutdown at a time when an explosion was most likely to occur; and
8.    The XXXXXX explosion prevention device – a flame arrestor – was never tested or inspected to ensure it could protect workers from an explosion.
 9.    XXXXXX failed to apply lessons from previous nitrous oxide explosions; and
10. XXXXXX did not provide its Cantonment facility with an appropriate level of technical staffing support.

March 5, 2018

Fatal accident while repair of insulation on ammonia storage tank

A fatal accident occurred in 2015 when workers were weatherproofing the outer layer of a large ammonia tank, when a piece of equipment struck the tank’s valve, which caused an ammonia leak that killed one worker.
This accident highlights the need to ensure that proper job safety analysis is carried out especially when working with ammonia tanks.

March 1, 2018

And then there is a fatality!

How many of you have experienced good safety records when suddenly a fatality occurs in a non process area? Well, you have? The management of Process Safety and Occupational Health and Safety in a chemical plant have a few common elements like incident investigation, work permits, training, emergency planning and response etc. However there is one most important underlying foundation for both- it is a good safety culture. Recently, a large chemical plant experienced two fatalities within a span of two months. Both the fatalities were not in a process area (covered process as defined in PSM) but were road accidents within the factory complex. One of them could have been prevented if the driver was wearing a seat belt. I had visited the plant a month before the fatal road accident (driver without seat belt) and had observed that in the township (where employees reside) of that plant, many of the staff were not wearing crash helmets when riding a two wheeler or were not buckling up when driving a car. This is the problem. You cannot throw away your rules just because you have come out of the factory and entered the township! Safety Culture should be developed assiduously by management both in and outside the plant. Breaking safety rules outside a plant will carry the same behavior inside the plant and other employees will start emulating this. After a fatality, there is always a lot of introspection, but don't forget the basics - Management staff must walk the talk both inside and outside the plant. Plain and simple.