Process Safety Beacon mini-round-up

I know that many blog readers like the chemical safety news round-ups, which went on hiatus for many months while I was busy with other things. I’m hoping to make a fresh start on those in a couple of weeks, after I return from vacation. This week my goal is to clean out my safety items folder, and as part of that I’m aiming to do a post a day with a few things each.

Here we go with the first installment, AIChE’s Process Safety Beacon issues for the year so far:

June – A safety device gone wrong

The flag on the fire hydrant can be considered to be a safety device – to protect the hydrant from damage by snow removal equipment, to remind people not to block access to the hydrant, and to help firefighters find the hydrant if it is buried by snow. But, because it was improperly installed, it is difficult to quickly open the hydrant valve.

Freedom Industries tank 396 held the 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol that spilled into a West Virginia river in January. Credit: Associated Press

Freedom Industries tank 396 held the 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol that spilled into a West Virginia river in January. Credit: Associated Press

May – Major spills and environmental incidents

We may think of process safety incidents as fires, explosions, and immediate injuries from exposure to toxic, corrosive, or otherwise hazardous materials. However, major spills of hazardous materials, especially into rivers or other bodies of water, are also process safety incidents

April – How do you measure process safety performance?

Traditional injury rate statistics do not effectively measure how well your process safety management system is performing. Think about it – what if there is a large release of a flammable material, perhaps several tons, and it catches fire? If nobody is in the area, there will be no injuries.

March – Don’t forget about occupational safety!

In a facility, there was a safety rule prohibiting wearing jewelry. One worker continued to wear a ring on his finger. As he got out of a truck, the ring caught on something and his little finger was amputated.

February – Are we reliving past incidents?

A recent article described an incident at a gasoline processing plant in Norway. A carbon adsorber used for emission control ignited a flammable atmosphere in the attached tank. Sadly, a very similar incident occurred at a bulk chemical storage terminal in Savannah, Georgia, USA in 1995. A thorough literature search would undoubtedly find more similar incidents.

January – Corrosion under insulation

A 1-inch (2.5 cm) flammable gas feed line ruptured because of wall thinning of the pipe due to corrosion under the insulation, causing a gas fire.

Author: Jyllian Kemsley

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  1. Freedom Industries – litigation has been filed against an airport authority very close to the Freedom Industries tank farm claiming that improper storm water management during the reconstruction of a runway allowed rainwater to flow under the foundation of the tank and was the cause of the ultimate failure.

    Interesting theory; have not seen the supporting documents/facts

  2. March – jewelry –
    Amputations are not as common as a banana peel of the skin on the ring finger. Many companies have prohibitions on jewelry and other stuff. For example, having anything in a shirt pocket is frequently forbidden when working around open process tanks; or having metal on your body when near large magnets…

    The rules usually make sense; the question of how big a 2×4 is needed to make people follow them is something else again!