Process Safety Podcast Addresses Cognitive Biases

April 5, 2023
By getting our brains used to looking for the unusual, we can better manage safety in our facilities.

The latest release of “Process Safety with Trish and Traci,” a podcast hosted by Chemical Processing’s Editor-in-Chief, Traci Purdum, and Trish Kerin, director of the IChemE Safety Centre, discusses how cognitive biases can lead to process-safety events. 

In the podcast, Kerin explains how to remove common cognitive biases using the Platypus Philosophy. By getting our brains used to looking for the unusual, we can better manage safety in facilities and improve safety training, she says.

“The platypus itself is proof that the impossible is possible, because who would've thought that an animal would have a duck's spill, a beaver's tail, otter's claws, glow in the dark and all these other features that it has — it makes no sense. It is so improbable, but it exists, it's real,” explains Kerin.

The platypus becomes a metaphor for talking about and identifying weak signals in facilities, she adds.

“We might see a glimpse of the bill and think, oh, I don't need to worry about that. That's just a duck. But if it's a platypus, remember, the platypus has a spur with toxin that can hurt you, so you’ve got to find the platypuses in your facility so you can actually do something about them. We've got to identify our weak signals, find them and manage them.”

Kerin further explains the philosophy’s PLATYPUS acronym in her book, “The Platypus Philosophy,” available on Amazon

Sponsored Recommendations

Keys to Improving Safety in Chemical Processes (PDF)

Many facilities handle dangerous processes and products on a daily basis. Keeping everything under control demands well-trained people working with the best equipment.

Comprehensive Compressed Air Assessments: The 5-Step Process

A comprehensive compressed air audit will identify energy savings in an air system. This paper defines the 5 steps necessary for an effective air audit.

Get Hands-On Training in Emerson's Interactive Plant Environment

Enhance the training experience and increase retention by training hands-on in Emerson's Interactive Plant Environment. Build skills here so you have them where and when it matters...

Managing and Reducing Methane Emission in Upstream Oil & Gas

Measurement Instrumentation for reducing emissions, improving efficiency and ensuring safety.