Keep a sense of vulnerability: For safety's sake

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Excellent safety performance is our goal. But safety is not bankable. Long periods of time without significant incidents may in some cases create an unwarranted sense of complacency and relaxation of discipline. We must encourage a healthy respect for process industries chemicals, equipment, processes, procedures, and all the things we do for process safety management. Continuous incident-free operations may result in a slackening up of our well-established practices and procedures. Perhaps, incident-free safety performance tolerates a wink and a nod at proven methods allowing questionable shortcuts to flourish. This article offers some suggestions on raising the awareness by sharing focused examples of past mistakes and some catastrophic blunders. A number of resources are listed that identify easy-to-use, thought provoking case histories. Some are available at no cost. If employees share a sense of vulnerability within their process, there will probably be less deviation from time tested protective operations and maintenance activities. © 2013 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Process Saf Prog, 2013