The wisdom of Trevor Kletz – the ‘founding father’ of inherent safety (Day 353)

Trevor Kletz
Photo Credit | tce
Trevor Kletz

The name, Trevor Kletz, needs little introduction to anyone who has been involved with chemical process safety over the past forty years. Trevor died in 2013 at the age of ninety.

He is greatly missed but his impact on the chemical engineering profession was enormous and his name is rarely uttered along without the words ‘hero’ or ‘guru’ as well as ‘teacher’, ‘mentor’ or ‘friend’, in the same breath.

Trevor spent his entire career at ICI (Imperial Chemical Industries), and by the time of his retirement in 1982 he had created a safety culture within the company with a major positive impact on accident statistics.

This success was attributed to his powerful intellect on one hand, but also to his exceptional communication skills. Trevor’s ability to reduce complicated issues to simple fundamentals was the stuff of legend.

Continue reading The wisdom of Trevor Kletz – the ‘founding father’ of inherent safety (Day 353)

Time to dust off and deliver (Day 330)

As you well know, I started this blog to highlight all the good things that chemical engineers do and how we can make a positive difference.

The stimulus for me to do this came from my experience of talking to the media (see my blog on ‘Chemical engineers and the media‘) and in particular, when asked to comment on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Process safety is embedded in our profession and is considered in everything we do. Because of this we are always striving towards improvements in process design, process delivery and also in research – something we definitely need to talk more about.

green dustSo I was pleased to learn that a group of researchers from Norway, Italy and Canada have investigated a dynamic approach to risk management.

Their particular focus is on metal dust explosions. Dust can present a significant hazard in mining, food processing (eg flour dust) and other industrial settings.

Continue reading Time to dust off and deliver (Day 330)

When 99.9 per cent just isn’t good enough (Day 108)

99.9%Have you ever wondered why we make mistakes? Well, according to a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, called Joseph T Hallinan, he thinks ‘humans are pre-programmed to make blunders’. He’s even written a book about it called ‘Why We Make Mistakes’.

Hallinan is a former Wall Street Journal reporter who began to shape his theory while researching a story on anaesthetists.

Hallinan discovered they had a mixed safety record, but noted their safety record was vastly improved by a simple change to their equipment that cancelled out human error. The change was the introduction of a valve that could only turn one way to deliver anaesthetic to a patient.

Continue reading When 99.9 per cent just isn’t good enough (Day 108)