Monday, March 01, 2010

CCPS Process Safety Beaon - how can we improve it?

Each month I read the CCPS Process Safety Beacon with great interest. It provide well documented examples of what can go wrong. They are excellent for getting students attention by a short presentation with just one or two presentation slides.

The topic this month is about facility siting, and a simple slide with pictures fra the destroyed BP Texas City Refinery unit quickly get the attention of engineering students, and it is hoped that they then will not locate trailers and other temporary facilities for people close to sources of potential hydrocarbon releases. But do they really understand why? Or do they walk away thinking, that the explosion on March 23, 2005 at BP's facility in Texas City was just a case of poor facility siting?

The Process Safety Beacon usually have two sections. A section, which describe something, that went wrong, and a section about what you can do. This months what-you-can-do-section contain six bullet points requiring the reader to understand, point out, assure and insist - all positive actions. However, one of the middle bullets starts don't!

I think the Process Safety Beacon would be better with fewer bullets and more focused bullets that all are formulated in a positive maner, e.g. know were to seek refuge prior to starting work. Or in stead of "As soon as you become aware of a flammalbe material release which could create a vapor cloud, follow your plant's emergency procedures, including sounding evacuations alarms ot ensure that non-essential personnel evacuate process units and nearby buildings". That is a rather complex task! First the person need to evaluate if the release is flammable oor not. Second the person need to evaluate if the material could form a vapor cloud. Only if both answers are afirmative should the emergency procedures be followed. However in following these the person is further required to consider questions such as: What is non-essential personnel? What are nearby buildings? Nearby to what? I believe the message a) that your plant should have emergency procedures, b) that you should know your plants emergency procedures, and c) that the procedures should be followed for ANY release is completely lass in trying to be specific.

I also think people should be encouraged to go to a web-site such as or for more information - not - and the site web-server should be smart enough to display the index page if the 'index.aspx' is omitted or misspelled.

Furthermore if you manage to find the archive you find yourself at a different place. You are no longer at the AIChE website or the CCPS website, you are at the SAChE website. Maybe there are good historical reasons for this, but the CCPS Process Safety Beacon deserves in my opinion to be presented by professionally than is currently happening.