Piper Alpha anniversary and Hazards – process safety matters

LPBcover261.inddThis week we have been looking back, thirty years ago to the day, to arguably the world’s biggest offshore oil disaster – Piper Alpha. The devastating incident killed 167 people. Only 61 survived and were left with serious injuries and trauma.

Our friends at The Chemical Engineer have been sharing Piper Alpha Perspectives all this week, where chemical engineers and process safety professionals from around the globe have been sharing their personal views on the tragedy. You can read them here. 

In addition, our Loss Prevention Bulletin has published a special issue to mark the 30th anniversary.

The anniversary reminds us that process safety matters, it still matters, and it will continue to matter for as long as the process and hazard industries continue to exist. It matters because we all have a duty to ensure that people return from work in the same state they attended – safe.

This is why the sharing of knowledge is critical in our industry.

IChemE helps to support the sharing of knowledge through the IChemE Safety Centre (ISC), which provide resources such as interactive case studies; journals such as Process Safety and Environmental Protection (PPSE) and the Loss Prevention Bulletin; expert networks such as our Safety and Loss Prevention Special Interest Group; dedicated medals that recognise excellence in process safety, such as the Franklin Medal and the Lees Medal; relevant training courses, partnerships with international process safety centres such as the Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Center; and and by qualifying Professional Process Safety Engineers.

IMG_9315In addition to all of this, our Hazards conference – held annually in the UK and Australia and every two years in South East Asia – is our flagship event for sharing process safety knowledge.

Hazards 28 took place in May, with Hazards Australasia being brought to a close just last week. Here’s a recap of both conferences, and a sneaky peek at some of the key talks.

Hazards 28, Edinburgh, UK, 15-17 May 2018

#Hazards28 started with some pre-conference workshops on the first day including a presentation by the IChemE Safety Centre on Fukushima in partnership with AKT – using theatre-based learning to better understand the incident and the timeline of events in the lead-up to a disaster. DSC_0457

Trish Kerin, Director of the IChemE Safety Centre helped open the conference, alongside Technical Committee Chair Laurence Cusco, and officially launched ‘Tidal Wave’ – the latest in ISC’s interactive case study range.

She also presented the Franklin Medal and the Lees Medal, which you can read about here.

Ahead of the welcome drinks reception, generously sponsored by Drager, came the Trevor Kletz Memorial lecture. Kletz was an internationally acclaimed expert in process safety, and coined the expression: “If you think process safety is expensive, try an accident.”IMG_9387

This was touched upon briefly by our 2018 speaker, Chair of the US Chemical Safety Board Vanessa Sutherland, who said:

“Dr Kletz changed the way American leaders thought about safety. That’s why the Chemical Safety Board was created.”

Flashing up photographs of infamous process safety incidents, such as the Texas West Fertilizer incident in 2013, she added: “There is a personal side the process safety disasters, of which even the best reporters cannot convey.” A message which is even more poignant as we remember Piper Alpha today.

You can watch the fourth Trevor Kletz Memorial lecture here. 

DSC_0386Wood’s VP of Capital Projects and Technical, Andy Ewens and L’Oreal’s Health and Safety Director, Malcolm Staves, provided practical suggestions to eliminating risk in their keynote sessions on day two of the conference.

Ewens was keen to promote the Cynethin Framework and Staves demonstrated how L’Oreal has adapted Dupont’s Bradley Curve to create an interdependent safety culture.

Watch Andy Ewens’ keynote here, and Malcolm Staves’ here.

IMG_2586AkzoNobel’s PSM Pool EMEA Manager, John Mul took the first keynote on the final day of the conference, explaining how AkzoNbel’s PSM Framework was being implemented across 220 manufacturing sites worldwide. Mul highlighted that process safety change relies on a organisational ‘culture shift’ from compliance to commitment (two very different things!)

Nestle’s Process Safety Programme Manager, Shahana Buchanan, moved the discussion into the future and discussed how Industry 4 and artificial intelligence will impact process safety. She left delegates with this message: “Future devices could be making safety critical decisions without any human interaction.”DSC_0811

Watch John Mul’s keynote here, and Shahana Buchanan’s keynote here. 

That could make for an interesting Hazards conference in future! What do you think our Hazards 50 event will look like?

View the Hazards 28 photo gallery here. 

Hazards Australasia, Perth, Australia, 26-27 June

Hazards Australasia (#HazardsAA) had a strong focus on fire safety, a subject that is still fresh in our minds following the Grenfell Tower fire in June last year.

Hazards AA 2018 065The event opened with a presentation by Brett Darley, the CEO of Quadrant Energy, an upstream O&G company in Australia. Darley was passionate and inspiring in his speech, making it clear that “process safety is the right thing to do – and our legal and moral obligation.”

NOPSEMA’s Chief Executive, Stuart Smith, followed with the same passion and challenged industry to do better and now, due to the increasing number of hydrocarbon releases.

The topic of fire safety dominated the afternoon sessions on day one. Dame Judith Hackitt and Stan Krpan spoke about the fire safety of buildings in the aftermath of Grenfell Tower. Hackitt led the independent inquiry on the fire safety of building materials and Krpan led the Victorian Cladding Taskforce, created after the Lacrosse fire in Melbourne in 2014.  Hazards AA 2018 193

Delegates were challenged to think about buildings as complex systems – something chemical engineers know a little about! Our knowledge and experience as chemical engineers could be a great advantage in helping our construction colleagues.

ACT Australia took centre-stage, with a live stage production based on the Kings Cross Underground fire, called Smouldering.

Hazards AA 2018 231US Chemical Safety Board Member, Rick Engler opened discussions on the second day of the conference, discussing the current political situation in the US and the challenges that brought to process safety investigations.

Pam Pryor AO from the Safety Institute of Australia opened the first panel session –  How can process safety leverage off personal safety?

Facilitated by Dame Judith Hackitt, it included BHP’s Marcus Lemin, Shell’s Melissa Leonard, Alumina’s Danny Spaducci and IChemE Safety Centre Director Trish Kerin. It ended with a call for action for each process safety engineer to go back to their workplace and have a conversation with their occupational health and safety (OHS) colleagues, to see how they can help each other.

Do you think that chemical engineers can learn from OHS? Let us know in the comments. 

View the Hazards Australasia photo gallery here. 


Risk will never be eliminated, but it can be greatly reduced. If you are interested in attending Hazards 29 in Birmingham, UK next year please visit http://www.icheme.org/hazards29

The next Hazards Australasia will be held in November 2019 in Queensland.

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