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Don't Fear The Others

May 22, 2018

Last week at Hazards 28 in Edinburgh (Auld Reekie), the IChemE Safety Centre & Mary Kay O'Connor Process Safety Center facilitated a workshop entitled 'Process Safety for the 21st Century and Beyond'.


Trish Kerin & Dr Sam Mannan led a call for action for better collaboration between the 4 major stakeholders:


  • Industry

  • Academia

  • Regulators

  • Society

Later in the conference, Vanessa Sutherland delivered the Trevor Kletz memorial lecture encouraging (let's be honest expecting) us to work better together for the greater good of Process Safety.



Vanessa highlighted how other high hazard industries, such as aviation, have been successfully sharing good practices and bad experiences with significant reductions in incidents.


Are we afraid of competition or criticism ?

In my previous post (Lest We Forgot), I offered some incident information tools either as a map or a timeline, however neither of these provide a representative database that can be queried to turn Data into Information then Knowledge and hopefully sustained Wisdom.

Any database should provide a consistent means of classifying incidents so that relevant lessons are shared and acted upon. One solution is Scenario-based Incident Registration (SIR) from CGE Risk Management Solutions:



This offers a simple but effective way to capture incidents using a recognisable scenario structure - after all, we typically perform the same (or similar) Unit Operations (Materials & Methods etc) using the same (or similar) Assets (Equipment & Instruments etc), so why not develop an industry library for say, tank overfill, reactor overpressure etc.

I've offered Process Safety Index (think Dow Fire & Explosion index meets Dow Jones index) as one way to standardise the way vulnerabilities are measured in a clear, confidential format and the feedback at Hazards 28 was certainly positive. If we all measure our Strengths (Protection) and Weaknesses (Threats) in the same way, then we are better able to judge if we are following good or better practice (the concept of actually achieving 'best' practice was challenged in one of the keynote presentations).

Ultimately we want to pool our experience and use it to the best advantage:

Learn from the mistakes of others. You won't live long enough to make them all yourself


The challenge is how to gather all experiences, good and bad, accident or near-miss/hit, so ... thinking completely outside the tank, the current film Anon is based on the principal that everyone's memories are uploaded into a central database ‘The Ether’ which law enforcement can access and use to prosecute criminals whose memories of committing or witnessing crimes are available for interrogation. Perhaps more credible (or foreseeable) than Minority Report and the Precogs.

Imagine all that collective experience from all Operations, Maintenance etc personnel who have survived or had a close call being available to prevent the same or similar incidents from happening elsewhere. At the end of the shift or working day, a 'brain dump' is uploaded - maybe less far-fetched now than we would have previously thought.

So who are The Others ? It could be people from another Shift, Plant, Site, Business Unit or Country within your own organisation or your competitors or your suppliers.

The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself!

If we don't collaborate, we will become isolated and ultimately LOST.

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