GUEST BLOG: Fireworks and Explosives – Loss Prevention Bulletin special issue

It’s 5 November, and across the UK tonight sparklers will be sparkling, and bangers will be banging. Each year fireworks displays are put on to mark the fortunately unsuccessful attempt by a group of conspirators trying to demolish the Houses of Parliament.

In today’s guest blog, Tony Fishwick explores process safety and management of fireworks as part of a special issue of the Loss Prevention Bulletin, entitled Fireworks and Explosives.

Continue reading GUEST BLOG: Fireworks and Explosives – Loss Prevention Bulletin special issue

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.
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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.

Continue reading Piper Alpha anniversary and Hazards – process safety matters

Be inspired to advance process safety worldwide

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.

Continue reading Be inspired to advance process safety worldwide

Fire safety expert gives interviews on Grenfell Tower fire

As the police and safety investigations into the Grenfell Tower fire continue, media across the world has been reporting on the tragic event that saw more than 150 homes destroyed and around 80 people presumed dead.

Police have said the London tower block fire started in a fridge-freezer, and outside cladding and insulation failed safety tests.

In the early stages of the investigation and as the incident unfolded, fire safety specialist Joe Ruane, Associate Member (Process Safety) of IChemE, was interviewed to give his expert opinion.

Listen to Mr Ruane speaking to Ireland’s RTE Radio 1 news on Thursday 15 June.

Watch Mr Ruane speaking to American news network CBS at the site of the fire.

Mr Ruane also spoke to the Associated Press news agency and the article was subsequently reported by media across the world, including The Daily Mail, Time, Fox News and Hindustan Times.

Ten things we learned at Hazards 26

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 26a 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.

  1. We forget the past at our peril

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Continue reading Ten things we learned at Hazards 26

“It’s about valuing diversity”, an interview with Dame Judith Hackitt for #InternationalWomensDay #IWD2016

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.

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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.

Continue reading “It’s about valuing diversity”, an interview with Dame Judith Hackitt for #InternationalWomensDay #IWD2016

Best blogs of 2014: A day in the life of a chemical engineering graduate (Day 219)

Graduation hatsHello and happy New Year everyone (if you are a follower of the Gregorian calendar).

This is the last of my seasonal review of the most popular blogs from 2014, and we’ll start again from tomorrow with some new stories showcasing our great profession.

At the start of 2015, I’m sure some of you are thinking about the future. Today’s ‘guest blog’ may help some of our younger readers who are still thinking about which career to pursue.

It’s a unique insight into a typical day of a chemical engineer just starting out in their working life. Thanks again for reading.

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Stepping into the world of work from university can be scary because it’s unknown, unfamiliar and it comes with responsibility. But it’s the start of an exciting chapter, full of opportunities and meeting new people.

So it would be great for students to know a little more about what it’s like to start a chemical engineering graduate job and what the journey was like to get there.

As IChemE president, I get to interact and talk to chemical engineers, all at different stages of their careers. With applications to study chemical engineering increasing year by year, I thought it would be great to blog about what it’s like to be a graduate just starting out.

The individual in question is a graduate safety engineer working for an engineering consultancy and has been in post for about two months – so I will pass the reigns over to them and let them explain, via this mystery guest blog, what it’s like to be a chemical engineering graduate.

Continue reading Best blogs of 2014: A day in the life of a chemical engineering graduate (Day 219)

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)

Remember, remember the 5th of November (Day 160)

FirecworksIn two days time, many people across the UK will be heading outdoors to enjoy an annual festival called ‘Bonfire Night’, which celebrates the failed attempt by Guy Fawkes and others to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605.

It is a nervous time, leading up to, and on the night for the rescue services with fireworks used widely. Accidents inevitably happen.

In the chemical and process industries, the fireworks industry is one of the most hazardous to work in.

In 2013, there were eight reported accidents in firework factories worldwide including China (3), India (2), Italy, Canada and Vietnam killing at least 48 people and injuring over a hundred.

The worst incident in Northern Vietnam’s Phú Tho Province killed 26 people and damaged an estimated 1,300 households in a three kilometre blast radius.

Continue reading Remember, remember the 5th of November (Day 160)

A day in the life of a chemical engineering graduate (Day 155)

Graduation hatsWith the autumn semester of the academic year well under way in the UK, final year chemical engineering students will be starting to think about their next step – applying for a graduate job.

Stepping into the world of work from university can be scary because it’s unknown, unfamiliar and it comes with responsibility. But it’s the start of an exciting chapter, full of opportunities and meeting new people.

So it would be great for students to know a little more about what it’s like to start a chemical engineering graduate job and what the journey was like to get there.

As IChemE president, I get to interact and talk to chemical engineers, all at different stages of their careers. With applications to study chemical engineering increasing year by year, I thought it would be great to blog about what it’s like to be a graduate just starting out.

The individual in question is a graduate safety engineer working for an engineering consultancy and has been in post for about two months – so I will pass the reigns over to them and let them explain, via this mystery guest blog, what it’s like to be a chemical engineering graduate.

Continue reading A day in the life of a chemical engineering graduate (Day 155)

Tough Gloves (Day 22)

Gloves and needleThere are lots of industries where protective clothing is a necessity. Although technology makes a contribution and advancements have been made, such Kevlar, by and large, some of the protection and the technology used seems to be stuck in a bygone era.

Chain mail is still used as protection in meat processing factories. Many boots still have metal toe caps. Plastic hard hats have been around for over 60 years. Surgical gloves are made from simple polymers… or are they?

Continue reading Tough Gloves (Day 22)