The concept of process safety has been around for over 200 years, although awareness of process safety was limited to nearly nonexistent for most of this time. Two catastrophic incidents — at Flixborough, U.K., in 1974 and Bhopal, India, in 1984 — were largely responsible for refocusing industry, regulatory, and public attention on process safety.
Many of the Baby Boomer generation (i.e., people born approximately between 1946 and 1964) started their careers in the 1970s and ’80s without any process safety education. Opportunities for process safety education at universities were few at that time, and organizations interested in training employees on the fundamentals had to develop their own in-house courses.
As a Boomer, I was not exposed to process safety during my undergraduate and graduate studies in chemical engineering. When I started working at Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., in the late ’70s, I received rudimentary exposure to process safety through indoctrination safety training. Air Products is a leader in process safety and a founding member of the Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS). The company’s process safety training program was based on in-house knowledge, supplemented by information collected through industry and organizational benchmarking. The majority of my fellow...
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