Perspectives: Field Notes

You Can’t Duck Responsibility for Safety

Delegating design work doesn’t get you off the hook.

By Dirk Willard, Contributing Editor

I was chatting on Facebook about engineers and our occasionally twisted sense of humor when I imagined the hallway at General Motors after the design review on the faulty ignition switch that has led to several fatalities. “How many soccer moms do you think we’ll kill, Bob?” “Oh, maybe a dozen — is that too many?” “Let's ask the corporate lawyer — he’s part of the design team. Don’t forget to ask the accountant. He’ll say an extra 10 cents a car is too much to spend.”

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02/10/2006

Check out before you start up

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02/28/2006

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04/12/2006

Solve the real problem

Sometimes solving a problem causes more harm than good.

05/06/2006

Level transmitter — art not science

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06/13/2006

Don’t Be the Hub of a Wheel

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08/17/2006

Twisting the dragon's tail

Complacency is a problem when violating safety rules has no repercussions.

08/18/2006

Remember the old reliable orifice plate

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09/11/2006

Choosing the right contract

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09/20/2006

Work to build coalitions with difficult teams

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10/24/2006

Making Your Process Operator-Proof

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12/05/2006

Know when to leave a sinking ship

The unspoken truth about projects is that they all come to an end, according to Dirk Willard in this month's Field Notes column. The key, he says, is knowing when to leave.

01/03/2007

Rely on an Ombudsman for a Smoother Project

Working with someone who speaks the operator’s language will avoid problems, according to Dirk Willard, in this month's Field Notes column.

02/12/2007

Pressure tests can spur successful start-up

Push it: if it breaks it probably needed to be replaced, says Dirk Williard, in this month's Field Notes column. Doing so can help improve your processes.

03/01/2007

Choose the right fluid for your pressure test

Compressed gas often makes the most sense for checking a process, according to Senior Editor Dirk Willard, in this month's Field Notes column.

04/12/2007

Strike the Right Balance

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04/30/2007

Protect your electronics

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06/06/2007

Electives can contribute significantly to professional growth

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07/24/2007

Know when to call for help

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08/20/2007