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What doesn't leak doesn't harm

May 23, 2015


Many learned people (particularly at Hazards 25) encourage us not to consider safety as an "add-on" like an expensive veneer on poor quality softwood, but more of an inherent, inbuilt component like solid hardwood.


Whilst I fully endorse this view, I believe we should take another step back and focus on Asset Integrity as a founding tenet of Chemical & Process Engineering; by creating plants & operating processes which avoid (or at least minimise) losses of primary containment (LOPC) and uncontrolled releases.


It's simply an extension of Trevor Kletz's immortal quote "what you don't have can't leak" i.e. "what doesn't leak doesn't harm" People, Planet or Profit.


Fast forward 100+ years and imagine we have process plants on the moon which are operated by robots and that humans only provide remote supervision. Will Safety still be our #1 priority ? We will certainly be concerned about keeping the plant intact regardless of whether anybody is there or not.


I recently visited a facility with the slogan "Safety First, Production Follows" in huge letters on the side of a plant. Perhaps we need to rethink this as "Integrity First, Safety (Environment & Production) Follows".


There should be an increased awareness of Asset (Integrity) Management standards such as ISO 55000 as a core element of teaching and practising Chemical and Process Engineering.


This can be simplified into 5D's:

  • Design = make it strong enough

  • Deviation = keep it inside it's design envelope

  • Degradation = don't let it's strength deteriorate

  • Discipline = utilise competent personnel

  • Damage = don't drop or drive anything onto/into it

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