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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Learning foreign languages can make your job easier

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10/04/2007

Make the most of newly hired, experienced engineers

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Build reliability in during design

Instrumentation that promises to improve reliability may not always be what they seem. You have to consider whether a site can properly maintain sophisticated instruments.

12/19/2007

It really isn’t your problem

A manager shouldn’t try to be a Mr. Fix-it.

02/05/2008

Stick to the basics

Getting immersed in details can doom a basic design contract to financial failure.

02/13/2008

Take a studied approach to plant studies

Carefully address the challenges of managing and directing specialized teams

03/13/2008

An Alert Operator Is a Safe Operator

Maintaining a good work environment can contribute to a safer plant

04/24/2008

Keep plant layout from laying you low

Spot mistakes before they literally become set in stone on the site

05/02/2008

A haphazard approach can hobble hazard reviews

Taking some simple steps can help you avoid common pitfalls in assessing changes

06/02/2008

Maintain an open mind about maintenance options

Sometimes it’s better to take a preventive rather than predictive approach

06/17/2008

Keeping Peace While Managing Unions

Dealing with unions often poses challenges to engineers

08/07/2008

Get Pipe Specifications Right in the Beginning!

Good pipe specifications can avoid costly and dangerous mistakes

08/08/2008

Solve the real problem

Sometimes solving a problem causes more harm than good

08/27/2008

Correctly Manage Change

How you begin is at least as important as your eventual goal

10/10/2008

Make the Most of Contractors

Using hired help effectively starts by treating them as part of your team.

10/15/2008

Deftly Deal with Management of Change

Consider some proven tactics to survive this grueling process.

11/20/2008

Finding The True Cost of Data-Collecting Equipment -- Can You Really Afford It?

Consider all costs before you opt to install an instrument.

12/15/2008

Choose Your Next Position Wisely

Finding your dream job takes a bit of soul searching and answering some tough questions.

01/20/2009

Brain Drain Brings Big Headaches

Inexperience and a tough production schedule can be a lethal combination

02/15/2009