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Comment PDF Environment, Health, Safety & Security

Safety, ethics on the Horizon

By Chemical Engineering |

Any chemical engineer can attest to the fact that safety is an ongoing pursuit in our profession, where we occasionally find our teams taking two steps forward and then one step back. Foreseeing and avoiding every type of equipment malfunction is practically impossible, and even the most diligent, conscientious and experienced professionals are bound to make mistakes. However, when the insightful warnings of engineers or operators are ignored — particularly by their superiors — labels like malfunction and mistake sound more like negligence and misconduct. Sadly, such unethical head turning continues to be found at the root of many industrial safety incidents, casting a shadow on the remarkable safety progress that we’ve made over the past several decades. In that vein, disasters in one industry often serve as lessons or wakeup calls for another. Such is the case in what we know so far about events surrounding the Deepwater Horizon, the mobile offshore-drilling unit owned by Transocean (Houston; http://www.deepwater.com) and leased by BP (London; http://www.bp.com), which exploded on April 20th, killing eleven men and spewing staggering volumes of petroleum and natural gas into the Gulf of Mexico. While the official…
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