By Gregory Hale
Sure, there are safety professionals that strive to keep manufacturing operations safe from all types of catastrophic incidents, but in the end, process safety is everybody’s responsibility.
“Process safety underpins everything we do in the industry,” said Michael Graff, chairman, chief executive, president of American Air Liquide and executive vice president of Air Liquide Holdings Inc. during his keynote Monday at the 14th Global Congress on Process Safety Plenary at the 2018 AIChE Spring Meeting in Orlando, FL. “We all know what process safety is, but it can be difficult to give it a clear definition. It is a responsibility we all share and a responsibility we all must take seriously.
Process safety has evolved over time from when safety standards really started under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Safety gained Graff’s attention from incidents in the 50s and 60s in Whiting, IN where there were multiple events.
In the 70s, when the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) started, process safety evolved to a topic discussed in all board rooms.
“To this day process safety is continuing to evolve,” Graff said. “This is a legacy to be proud of, but more importantly, it is something we can build on.”
Part of that “something to build on” is creating a vision and direction that incorporates more aspects of sustainability, he said.
“The changing climate is bringing new challenges,” Graff said. “Sustainability clearly is good business. Investors will be looking at these companies for future growth. At Air Liquide, sustainability is not just a part of what we do, it is what we do.”
As a part of sustainability, Graff discussed some key points moving forward:
• Must keep innovating to create new technologies to keep people safer.
• Must continue to work on behaviors
• Must collaborate
• Must make connections to share best practices: “Often times, breakthroughs come at the coffee machine and not in the laboratory.”
• Education: Enable all of industry to collaborate; the industry needs to place process safety and sustainability into core curriculums.
• Communicate: “It is not natural for scientists and engineers to communicate, but we clearly have to communicate to the outside world and communicate with colleagues.”
As a part of moving forward increasing collaboration will become an even more important factor in process safety.
“Process safety is about keeping people safe and the communities in which we operate safe. We have the responsibility to act; the public expects companies to act,” he said. “We should learn from past incidents and build on that learning to take safety to a new level.”