This 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.
Each year hundreds of professionals gather to be a part of our flagship process safety conference Hazards.
Process safety is fundamental to chemical, biochemical and process engineers. IChemE’s three-day event encourages them to come together and discuss: the current best practice, the latest developments, lessons learned in the process industry, and how to make operations even safer.
The conference was first held in 1960, and is now is an annual event. Hazards brings together around 100 presenters from leading industry practitioners, researchers and regulators, as well as keynote speakers invited from industry.
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.
Today we go to the big projects in chemical engineering that require strategy, innovation and teamwork. These winners are demonstrating great chemical engineering in its purest form. All of the projects below have demonstrated a key chemical engineering skill, systems thinking, and a drive for achieving the best results.
Take a look at their work below and don’t forget to leave a comment.
Recently we announced the finalists for the IChemE Global Awards 2016. The ceremony takes place on 3 November in Manchester, UK – and we can’t quite believe how quickly Awards season has come round again!
Each year our Awards judges have the tough task of narrowing down the hundreds of excellent entries to a select group of exceptional finalists for each category. We have seen some fantastic projects over the years, and 2015 was really special. 16 well-deserved winners were handed trophies at the Global Awards evening, which took place on 5 November 2015 in Birmingham, UK.
Read on to find out what some of our 2015 finalists have been up to since the ceremony, and re-cap some of the best moments of the night.
1. Ohio State University congratulated by President Obama
Bharat Bhushan and Philip Brown from Ohio State University, US were awarded the Water Management and Supply Award in 2015. To win the award they developed a special mesh which uses a unique coating and tiny holes to separate oil from water. The ground-breaking work, designed to help clean up oil spills, was even noticed by the President of US, Barack Obama, who sent the researchers a congratulatory note.
This week our IChemE journals have much to celebrate. The latest figures from Thomson Reuters have revealed two journals, which we published in partnership with Elsevier, have increased Impact Factors.
So how does he plan to make the role his own? We caught up with him to find out.
Name: Ian Wilson (DI Wilson on papers – I’m called by my second name) Education:
Undergraduate, Chemical Engineering, University of Cambridge, UK
PhD, Chemical Engineering, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada Job Title:
Professor of Soft Solids and Surfaces, University of Cambridge, UK
Joint Editor-in-Chief, Food and Bioproducts Processing Membership Grade: Fellow Special Interest Group: Food & Drink Research interests: How processing microstructured materials such as foodstuffs determines their structure and properties. This has led me to work in rheology, fouling and cleaning, and heat transfer.
IChemE’s flagship process safety symposium, known far and wide simply as ‘Hazards‘, goes from strength to strength. From its modest beginnings in Manchester, England in the 1960’s the event has grown into an international brand attracting delegates to conferences in Europe, Australasia and South East Asia.
Last month we welcomed over 300 delegates to the Edinburgh International Conference Centre for Hazards 26, a three-day event that featured some notable keynote speakers, who offered some powerful insights on a wide range of process safety topics.
Those who were fortunate to have a ticket for the biggest process safety event in Europe this year, went back to their day jobs armed with valuable lessons in how to improve process safety performance. But for those of you who couldn’t attend, here’s a flavour of the key messages that were delivered by the keynote speakers and some of the big names who were present in Edinburgh.
Today is International Women’s Day, and to celebrate we decided to put a chemical engineering leading lady in the spotlight – Dame Judith Hackitt.
Judith Hackitt, who was IChemE’s second female president (2013-2014), has had an eventful 2016 so far. The Chair of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), was made Dame in the New Year Honours, and has recently announced her new appointment as Chair at the EEF, the manufacturers organisation.
We sat down with her to look back on her career so far, and get her perspective on the gender debate, and the future of chemical engineering.
Thanks for joining me today Judith. You have had quite an impressive career. I’m sure you’re a bit sick of this question but what was it like to be made a Dame in the New Year’s Honours List?
Well on a day-to-day basis it doesn’t make any difference, I’m not using the title anywhere and everywhere and insisting people call me Dame Judith! I was at home on the day the letter arrived, it was first of all a big surprise but also a massive honour. It’s hard to describe but you feel like it’s something special. I really am genuinely honoured to be offered this, and it was a delight to write back and say yes, of course I’d accept.
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.
One 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!):
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.
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.
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.
Improvements in process safety education should never stand still, so it was good to hear from one of IChemE’s members based in the US this week, Deborah Grubbe, who contacted me about the development of some new technical software called The PSM eBook.
The eBook was commissioned by the chemical engineering team at Purdue University in the US. They decided to introduce process safety management more formally into the undergraduate curriculum.
Forty years ago, today, the explosion at the Flixborough Nypro Chemicals site near Scunthorpe, UK, killed 28 people and injured 36 others.
It resulted in the almost complete destruction of the plant. Further afield, the blast injured another 53 people and caused extensive damage to around 2,000 buildings.
With the exception of the Buncefield fire in 2005, it remains the biggest post war explosion in the UK.
At the time there were no specific UK regulations to control major industrial hazards. The incident also exposed weaknesses in the understanding of hazards, the design of buildings, management systems and organisation.