Process safety in labs, chemical compatibility, and other topics in process safety newsletters

From AIChE's Center for Chemical Process Safety, recent "Process Safety Beacons": Process safety in the laboratory - "Wherever you work – in a process plant, a research laboratory, a pilot plant, a quality control laboratory, a maintenance shop, or anywhere else – make sure you fully understand the hazards associated with all of your materials, equipment, and operations. You can’t manage the risk from a hazard that you don’t know about!" Understanding chemical compatibility - "This is important information to understand so you can take proper precautions to make sure that incompatible materials are not inadvertently mixed. That can happen when making material transfers such as unloading shipments into storage tanks or other containers, when containers are stored adjacent to each other in warehouses or production areas, and when products are transferred to tank farms for storage before being shipped." Dangerous chemical reactions at home - "Did you know that mixing some household cleaners could be fatal?" A little static can cause a big fire - "Static charge is generated by contact and separation of two different materials. Once generated, charge may remain on the materials until it finds a lower electrical potential, then it discharges. The spark can have enough energy to ignite flammable vapors, gases, or a combustible dust cloud." Can you recognize a change - "On the passenger vessel that experienced the engine fire, couplings on three of the four engines had been replaced with threaded hose fittings and rubber hoses. One of those hoses failed and sprayed fuel directly onto the hot engine exhaust, which likely provided the ignition source." 15 years of the "Process Safety Beacon" - "When you read a Beacon, think about what you can learn from it, even if it discusses an incident which happened in a very different kind of plant."

Author: Jyllian Kemsley

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1 Comment

  1. I have recommended using PSM, scaled to the lab level for many years. It organizes the way safety can be easily integrated into research and provides a construct which has a high probability of catching unmitigated risks before they get out-of-control.

    The difficulty is that a chemical scientist’s education (with the exception of Chem E’s) does not include hazard assessment / risk management and thus implementing PSM seems daunting. This is where our EH&S colleagues can play a significant role by guiding the discussion within a research group. This role is far more important than doing “inspections”, but requires a much larger investment of EH&S resources. Moving in this direction is as difficult for the EH&S professional as implementing lab-scale PSM is for the chemical practitioner.

    Difficulty not withstanding, we must move in this direction if we expect to see a real improvement in leading and lagging safety metrics.

    Stay safe out there…