Process plant safety. A few thoughts.

[Classroom of a mandatory theoretical safety training - dialogue between the HR manager of a multinational chemical company, sitting in front, and myself, sitting in the second row]

HR - You are also from the process industry, and I'd like to ask you a question.

Myself - Please.

HR - We try to implement the strictest safety procedures. Yet, I feel that something can be done to increase awareness of our engineers.

Myself - When do you maintain your plants?

HR -During August

Myself - Where are your engineers in August?

HR - On holiday

[I roll my eyes]

[Dialogue ends]


  • Even a non-technical person can understand that there is something wrong with today's approach to process plant safety and operation.
  • Outsourcing and undue reliance on software tools are sacking opportunities for engineers to understand what is happening in the plants.
  • The hallmark of a safe plant is an engineer who understands and feels what is happening inside the pipes. Way more than Hazops and certificates.