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Reader feedback: July 2021

July 22, 2021
Readers respond to recent articles and editorials by Keith Larson and Jim Montague

I found Keith Larson’s article “Containerization meets process automation” very insightful. (May ’20, p.31).

Kubernetes-controlled industrial control systems could solve many of our problems. Even if the core ICS components are unsupported in a container, there are literally hundreds of associated services that are major security problems because their associated OS is no longer supported. Taking those apps with their required win32 binaries and running them in a Docker container would be a huge step forward.

Even if an open, third-party platform into which you can plug in and swap out applications from different suppliers is a ways off, hopefully FOMO will kick in if they discover another player is looking into the technology and some development resources can be applied.

Christopher Ring
Network Engineer, Georgia-Pacific
[email protected]

I liked Jim Montague’s editorial "Maybe don't save the CSB" on the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (May ’21, p.50).

The Center for Operator Performance tried several years ago to see if we could use the CSB database to help guide our research. We found that 56% of incidents investigated by the CSB could be attributed to system error and 44% to human error. And of those attributed to human error, 18% were further attributed to emergency preparedness, 15% to improper safety measures, 10% to industrial standards deficiency, 40% to hazard evaluation systems, and 17% to “other” causes such as miscommunication, improper procedures and improper work timings.

Unfortunately, the CSB root-cause analysis really wasn’t much of one, and did not match human-performance variables that could be researched. Whether the human-error events were related to interface design, training, organization, job design, etc., would have been useful. But as reported, the investigations by themselves were not much help.

Thanks for bringing CSB's issues to the surface.

Dave Strobhar
Chief Human Factors Engineer,
Beville Engineering
[email protected]

It has been on my to-do list to email and let you know I enjoyed Keith Larson’s article, “There’s room for an A in STEM” (April ’21, p.9).

I recall a few years ago when some organizations began co-opting the STEM acronym into STEAM and promoting the "essential" nature of arts at the same level as science/tech/eng/math. At the time, that idea rubbed me the wrong way.

However, I must say I've long noticed that the most capable STEM folks I've known have always demonstrated a strong arts affinity. They're not always working in painting or music. However, the strongest STEM people I've seen exhibit an elegance or efficiency in what they create.

Thanks for the reminder.

Paul Darnbrough, P.E.
Principal, ControlsPR
[email protected]

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