I recently moderated a Chemical Processing webinar on process safety that featured Dr. Sam Mannan, regents professor in the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University and director of the Mary Kay O'Connor Process Safety Center. If you’ve ever attended a presentation by Mannan, you know he is passionate about process safety and he doesn’t pull punches when it comes to placing blame. He also drives home the point that process safety is a journey that never ends. To become safer, companies must get to the root cause.
Mannan pointed to several recent incidents and noted the common factors for all of these fatal accidents: technical issues, poor hazard communication with first responders, management issues and industry's management of the matters. He also stressed the fact that there is no repository of chemical incidents. Without this, there is no way to share main causes and what kinds of chemicals are mainly involved in these catastrophic incidents.
“We see the same movie over and over again,” says Mannan. “The cast may be different, the chemicals may be different, the sequence of events may be different, but the underlying causes are the same.”
Regarding regulations, he suggests that they be based on risk and need. “Once we have a regulation, we must enforce it properly,” says Mannan. “Compliance must be assured. And competence, competence, competence -- that's also very important. People that are working in the regulatory arena must have competence in understanding what's going on in process plants and how these regulations need to be implemented.”
At the end of the webinar he issued a plea. “We need people from academia, people from industry, people from government, as well as public interest groups to join hands and work on this really difficult problem so that we can go on the path to improving process safety not only in one company but throughout the industry.”
To view the on-demand version of the webinar – including a robust Q&A session at the end that featured questions from the audience, visit our registration page. Scroll to the bottom to choose any of our on-demand webinars.
Unfortunately, we had some audio problems during the recording. You also might be interested in downloading the full transcript of this webinar. If you’re going to view the on-demand version, the transcript is located in the Handouts area. If you don’t plan on watching the webinar, download the transcript here.
Traci Purdum is Chemical Processing’s senior digital editor and webinar moderator. She’s also a fan of Dr. Mannan and process safety. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.