Guest Blog: Account from Asia Pacific on the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on chemical engineers in the region

In today’s guest blog, chemical engineer David Platts tells us how he has been working to share knowledge to support chemical engineers in his region during the coronavirus outbreak.

DSCF5083Name: David Platts

Job title and organisation: NZ based Food Industry Consultant (semi-retired)

IChemE role: Member of the Learned Society Committee and Subject Area Lead Food

 

 In discussions with IChemE members in my region, it was evident that although much information published globally was centred on the major economic centres, we too had interesting stories to share regarding our response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Asia Pacific.

Working with the country chairs in Australia and New Zealand, and fellow Learned Society Committee member Alexandra Meldrum, a series of short webinars was planned highlighting how we were navigating the myriad of the challenges brought about by pandemic.

We asked two subject specialists to join us for the first webinar on 23 March. Both presenters shared some thought-provoking content which was extremely relevant to current events, but also challenged us to carefully consider future actions post the pandemic.

Trish Kerin, Director of the IChemE Safety Centre, gave a presentation titled “Decision Making in a Crisis”. Clearly this topic was of much interest to the delegates as we are indeed in a crisis and, for many, this provides many challenges to leadership. A key aspect that I took from the talk was that good leaders need to develop a well-stocked bank account of trust with the people they are leading. This point, I suggest, is highlighted by some of the differing global leadership styles that we are witnessing in many countries.

The second presentation was by Kennie Tsui, Principal Analyst at the New Climate Commission and board member of Engineering New Zealand. Kennie talked in depth about climate change issues going forward. Kennie gave us a vision of what could happen post COVID-19 if we let the brakes off too quickly, referencing the bounce back in emissions following the global financial crisis of 2008. We have a decision to make, follow a new path that leads to meeting our goals for emissions reductions or accelerate those emissions thereby making the challenges even more difficult. A direction that we need to carefully manage – informed and well communicated decisions are critical.

We do hope that those who viewed the presentations found them valuable. If you missed the webinar it can be viewed on the IChemE Safety Centre YouTube channel here.

For the future, please keep your eye open for more webinars as we would like to expand this initiative to the wider Asia Pacific region with more varied content. If you have stories to share, please contact us via the regional members portals for New Zealand and Australia. We would love to hear from you.

 

For more information on how IChemE is responding to the coronavirus outbreak, please visit our Coronavirus Information Hub.

How do we achieve, maintain and demonstrate competencies for process safety?

Every day, chemical and process engineers are working hard to reduce the huge risks that come with working in hazardous environments and share lessons learnt in regard to process safety incidents.

IChemE and its members are intrinsically involved in sharing lessons through various streams of work; the IChemE Safety Centre, the Safety and Loss Prevention Special Interest Group, and producing journals and publications such as the Loss Prevention Bulletin, to name but a few.

Delegates and exhibitors share safety practices and learnings at Hazards 28 in Edinburgh, UK

The annual Hazards conference is also a key date in the calendar. It brings together hundreds of process safety practitioners from around the world, so that together, they can learn from one another’s experiences to help maintain a clear focus on safer operations and support good practice.

For the first time, at this year’s Hazards 29 conference in May, a new panel discussion has been added to the technical programme to encourage a two-way discussion around some of the challenges facing process safety. The theme of the panel discussion will be: ‘How do we achieve, maintain and demonstrate competencies for process safety?’

To mark World Day for Safety and Health at Work today (28 April), panel members IChemE Safety Centre Director Trish Kerin and Dr Chris Tighe, Chemical Engineering Lecturer at Imperial College London, have shared their insights into how they think we can continue to improve safety processes around the world.

Continue reading How do we achieve, maintain and demonstrate competencies for process safety?

10 things chemical engineers learned from #Hazards27

Risk will never be eliminated, but it can be greatly reduced.

Our flagship process safety conference Hazards continues to build momentum and we were pleased to welcome over 300 delegates to Hazards 27, at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham, UK, last week. Various speakers, workshops and exhibitors from across the world gave excellent insight, advice and tips into the ways to review process safety practices, and useful services and products that could help improve process safety performance.

One of the most anticipated talks of the conference is the Trevor Kletz memorial lecture. Last year, Mr Justice Haddon-Cave gave some great insight into the RAF Nimrod enquiry, and how it could be applied to engineering. This year Formula 1 Analyst Mark Gallagher took to the stage, drawing parallels between risk management in the world of motorsport and the process industries.

Continue reading 10 things chemical engineers learned from #Hazards27

Ten differences between process safety and occupational safety (Day 166)

Work safetyOne of the most important roles that chemical engineers can play is improving safety.

A good example of this is the IChemE Safety Centre (ISC) which sets up a new impetus and framework for process safety.

Despite the good work of chemical engineers in mitigating dangerous events, they still occur.

Often the reason given for these incidents is a lack of understanding of what process safety is and how it differs from occupational safety.

For example people often use this to explain why the BP Texas City refinery explosion and fire, which sadly killed 15 people and injured 180 more, occurred. It has been suggested that there was too great a focus on reducing the high number of occupational safety incidents, rather than the more infrequent but much more serious process safety incidents.

I have put together this list of ten differences between process and occupational (personal) safety to help dispel this (however it should be noted that this list is my opinion and there is a lot of overlap between process and occupational safety – hence the confusion!):

Continue reading Ten differences between process safety and occupational safety (Day 166)

A global ring of safety (Day 80)

Step by step, day by day, country by country, something special is happening in the world of process safety. In chemical engineering hubs around the world, process safety is being taken to new levels led by a network of IChemE members.

There are now nearly 70 chemical engineers enrolled or registered as Professional Process Safety Engineers based at strategic locations on five continents.

They are the vanguard and champions of a long-term IChemE initiative to improve safety and give greater recognition to one of the most important – if the not the most important – discipline in the chemical engineering profession.

Locations of Professional Process Safety Engineers
IChemE’s Professional Process Safety Engineers are now located on five continents

Continue reading A global ring of safety (Day 80)