We recently launched a podcasts series — Process Safety with Trish & Traci. Obviously, I’m the Traci in the duo. Trish Kerin, Melbourne, Australia-based director of the IChemE Safety Centre, is my partner. In this series, we aim to discuss current process-safety issues and offer insights into mitigation options and next steps.
In the premiere episode (“Educated Workforce Key to Safety in China”), we talk about the role an educated workforce plays in achieving better process safety. Several catastrophic incidents in China led to this discussion and Kerin offers some thoughtful analysis as to why it seems so many issues arise.
“Everywhere I go around the world, I constantly hear questions or comments about competency and the challenge in developing, establishing and maintaining competence of our people to do the tasks we need them to do safely,” says Kerin. “I don't think China is any different in that space. I think they, too, have some competency related issues just like we do in the U.S.A., in Australia, in the U.K., all around the world.
“I think there’re probably far more instances of people not knowing how to do the right thing rather than deliberately doing the wrong thing.” She notes that universities around China are dedicated to improving process safety education. “They're really trying to make efforts and strive to do these improvements, which does need to be commended.”
This episode also points out that all chemical processing facilities must continue to strive to really work to build that competency. “To make sure we have the right equipment in place and to drive that inherently-safer-design concept so that we actually make it much, much harder to make a mistake. It becomes easier to stumble into getting it right.”
Helping listeners get it right is the goal. And it seems a lot of work needs doing. According to a survey cited in Mark Rosenzweig’s editorial this month (“Process Safety Demands Perseverance”), a large gap exists between process safety intent and what occurs in everyday operations. That survey underscores the need for more action.
Action, indeed. This podcast is just another way “we’re doing our part to help you improve process safety,” if I may borrow from Mark’s column.
In upcoming episodes we will tackle inherently safer design, whether regulations make us safer, how to achieve better safety training, and deciding if safety checklists are a good or bad idea. And as incidents occur around the world, we will discuss missteps and how to avoid future events.
How To Listen
You can access this podcast and our other series — The Minute Clinic — via this link: chemicalprocessing.com/podcasts. Each series is available for download on several podcast apps including Apple (formerly iTunes), Google Play, Stitcher and Spotify. Don’t worry if none of those sound familiar to you — you can also listen right from the ChemicalProcessing.com website.
What’s The Minute Clinic?
Chemical Processing’s Minute Clinic podcast series is designed to tackle one critical issue at a time — giving you hard-hitting information in just minutes. This series is also hosted by me and covers several topics including operator performance and reliability and maintenance.
Have a topic you'd like covered for either series? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you are a subject matter expert who would like to participate in the Minute Clinic or join Trish and me and talk about process safety, use the same email address to pitch your ideas.
Traci Purdum is Chemical Processing's senior digital editor. You can email her at email@example.com.