Safety Guru’s Legacy Continues: Behie Named Interim Director of MKOPSC

Dec. 11, 2019

They are big shoes to fill but it seems that Dr. Stewart Behie is up for the task to serve as interim director of The Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Center (MKOPSC).

The MKOPSC was established in 1995 in memory of Mary Kay O’Connor, an operations superintendent killed in an explosion on Oct. 23, 1989, at the Phillips Petroleum Complex in Pasadena, Texas. In 1997, Dr. Sam Mannan, because of his reputation as a world-renowned expert in process safety, was appointed director of the center and served until his passing on Sept. 11, 2018. (See: “Pioneer In Process Safety Dies” and “Champion, Critic Of Process Safety Remembered.”)

Mannan was a friend to Chemical Processing and to me. He served as presenter for Chemical Processing’s Process Safety Series. It was his mission to raise awareness and always asked the questions “Why do incidents keep happening?” and “What can we do to improve process safety performance?”

I’m hoping I can forge a friendship with Behie as well. He comes to the position highly regarded by his peers. In fact, it was Roy E. Sanders who alerted me to the news that Behie was appointed. Sanders serves on Chemical Processing’s editorial board and is a process safety consultant and lecturer based in Lake Charles, La. He currently is a part-time research associate at the Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Center at Texas A&M University.

According to the news release announcing his appointment, Behie has over 40 years of technical experience in risk assessment and management, process hazards analysis, safety engineering and the process of safety culture maturation. He has worked closely with the MKOPSC as an industry consortium member and also on the industry steering committee, and he has served on the risk communication subcommittee representing the Occidental Oil and Gas Corporation as well.

“I look forward to my new leadership role within the MKOPSC and to be able to continue the legacy of Dr. Mannan, a guru of process safety worldwide,” said Behie. “Learning to look through the eyes of risk is paramount to good process safety practices. When working with operators or engineers, I want them to see their roles and practices through a risk paradigm. I’m excited to incorporate this vision in my work at the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station.”

I wish you good luck in your new role, Dr. Behie. And if we do speak soon, don’t be alarmed if I greet you with a big “Howdy” as a hat tip to Sam.

Traci Purdum is Chemical Processing's senior digital editor. She is a fan of all things process safety and even hosts a podcast on the topic: Process Safety With Trish & Traci. You can email her to say howdy anytime at [email protected].

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