Safety Instrumented Systems / Intrinsic Safety

Safety First?

The Wind Power Industry Is Experiencing a Learning Curve in Safety and Accident Prevention

Safety and loss prevention is one of my passions. Have you ever seen or known someone get killed in an industrial accident? Well, I have. I was 25 years old, and it has haunted me for 37 years. 

It's interesting that this relatively new industry (wind power) is experiencing a learning curve in safety and accident prevention. [Editor's note: The writer is referring to this story that appeared in the U.K. newspaper, The Telegraph, on Dec. 11, 2011:]

Something that seems clean also seems safe. At Dow, we used to paint everything eggshell white because it made the plant look safe.

Don't get me wrong. Dow was one of the best places I have ever worked, and they really took safety seriously. I only wish that other companies would follow their lead. But we still had terrible accidents from time to time. Usually there was an accident when someone was not paying attention. In addition, there were usually three problems that were overlooked. Any one of them would have prevented the accident. However, anything mechanical or electrical deserves respect, especially the larger it gets. The number of accidents is beyond reasonable.

What is wrong with management and engineering professionals in our automation and control business? Sometimes we as engineers and automation professionals need to say no! Are we building things to code, or are we building things to last and be safe?

I am beginning to believe most of those in charge don't have a clue about what they are doing. We all want to go home to dinner with our families after a good day's work. We never think that when we say goodbye in the morning we may never see our loved ones again, do we?

Joe Kaulfersch
Pepperl+Fuchs Process Automation