Cargill: On a Journey To Do A World of Good

Process Safety Management is certainly not new to Cargill.  However, according to Cargill’s Vice President for Environment Health & Safety, Al Johnson, “Collaborating with CCPS/AIChE on this recent Faculty Workshop, is one of the significant ways we are expanding our ongoing commitment to continuous improvement in our industry’s process safety performance."

It is about continually learning and challenging ourselves to be better today than yesterday, in order to build a better future. 

Chris Aiken, Worldwide Process Safety Manager

In fact, it is a journey – a mission - to strengthen and deepen the culture of safety at Cargill, which is built on fundamental values to ensure a safe and healthy workplace. “It’s really based on the expectation that everyone within Cargill and within our industry, has the responsibility to work together to protect people, communities and the environment from the risks within the chemical processing industry” says Chris Aiken, Worldwide Process Safety Manager and leader of this collaboration between Cargill and CCPS/AIChE.

It is this commitment to a strong and effective culture of safety that led the diversified global leader to host 18 chemical engineering faculty members from 15 universities at its Blair, Nebraska plant, for a three and a half day Workshop, August 15th – August 19th.

Shakeel Kadri, CCPS’s executive director, reinforces the mission that Cargill and AIChE/CCPS share. “We could not accomplish our mission without the tireless dedication of industry partners like the team at Cargill. Our collaboration with them and others is allowing us to revitalize chemical engineering process safety education and accelerate undergraduate preparation in this function and related critical thinking skills.”

During the Workshop, faculty members received a comprehensive, firsthand understanding of process safety risks by combining tours of Cargill’s plant operations along with classroom instruction. Ongoing discussions about how and where to integrate these concepts and topics into the classrooms were emphasized throughout the Workshop.

According to one participant, Eric M. Davis, Assistant Professor with the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Clemson University, “attending the workshop helped me to better understand how important process safety is in industry. I left with a real appreciation for the importance of a safety culture; and how that was being created at Cargill.”

One of the highlights of the experience for Eric and other Faculty members was learning directly from the panel of young engineers, six Cargill employees with one to ten years of experience. Through their own reflections and a robust question and answer session, these young engineers shared their thoughts about ways to improve the academic process safety experience.

Cargill’s faculty workshop is one of the critical components to the success of the undergraduate process safety learning initiative, a core priority of AICHE’s ‘Doing a World of Good’ campaign. The initiative is a major industry movement with the potential to positively impact society and chemical engineering for decades to come. 

In the end, Chris says, “It is about continually learning and challenging ourselves to be better today than yesterday, in order to build a better future. We believe the incorporation of process safety risk management into the curriculum at universities is a critical success factor to improve our industry’s process safety performance.”

See photos from the event.

Learn more about the Undergraduate Process Safety Learning Initiative.