Chemical safety starts in classroom

Chemical engineering education and safety continues to develop as groups are coming together to promote awareness and prevent potentially deadly accidents from occuring.

02/20/2013


ISS SourceIt was just over six years ago when four people died, and 13 others ended up hospitalized after an explosion from the production of a gasoline additive, methylcyclopentadienyl manganese tricarbonyl, at T2 Laboratories Inc. in Jacksonville, Fla.

Catastrophes such as that December 19, 2007 incident continue to emphasize the need to further improve U.S. chemical engineering education.

That’s the purpose behind a program from the Chemical Safety Board (CSB), Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET) and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) to build criteria for including more information about reactive chemical safety in chemical engineering university curriculums.

That was the idea behind a Wednesday AIChe webinar by Thomas Spicer, professor of chemical engineering at the University of Arkansas, and Kimberly Ogden, professor of chemical and environmental engineering at the University of Arizona.

The big question surrounding how to meet chemical engineering and safety requirements in the classroom is: Why doesn’t ABET just tell us what to do? “What we have to discern is how other departments have dealt with the issue, what the common problems are, and decide on some solutions,” Spicer said. The key is to find common ground about how to comply, using common sense, rather than just following a set of rules, which is only the first step.” Instead of having a rules-based approach to safety education, Spicer emphasized the need for a culture-based approach. “This makes the effort sustainable,” he said, because “culture is about what you do without even thinking about it, such as putting clothes on first thing in the morning before you leave the house. That’s what we hope people will seek regarding safety education.” The key is to make sure graduates understand the concept of inherently safer design.

To instill that safety culture, Ogden said you have to do things that go beyond legal requirements for lab safety before students go into the lab. One example from the University of Arizona is an online course of rules and regulations before they can start in the lab. Some are using a job-safety assessment. Ogden’s team starts at a sophomore level for reactor design, using the Safety and Chemical Engineering Education (SAChE) module.

It’s also important to understand regulations of chemical hazards. How do you read a material safety data sheet in looking at chemical hazards? “We start doing distillation, using more chemicals as opposed to just heat exchange, hitting the hardest in the senior year,” Ogden said. “We also start job-safety assessment, taken from Michigan Tech’s model. We integrate a variety of SAChE modules related to inherently safer designs and reactors. There is a SAChE dust explosion module as well. We do a what-if analysis, a hazard operation analysis, and a lab-safety review of a research lab,” she said.

Other requirements in the curriculum include drawing a diagram at a P&ID level for process equipment. Students also draw laboratory floor plans and figure out equipment specifications so they understand maximum temperatures and pressures they’re working with. One example is a diagram of acid-based reactions, safety exits, and showers, which is important because it helps the student understand their space and how what they are doing affects the rest of the people around them.

Students also do a hazards and operability review, which is part of the senior capstone design project. “When they look at their process flow diagram, they try to understand variations in temperature and pressure, what can cause them, and how what is happening in one piece of equipment can affect downstream,” Ogden said.

“With a heat exchanger, for instance, if you have a low temperature, you might have incomplete reaction someplace else. Maybe check your thermocouples and make sure things are going in at the right ratio or whether there is flow going in the wrong direction. So they think of individual pieces of equipment and how safety is important in the design they are putting together.”

The University of Arkansas offers required courses in chemical process safety atmosphere dispersion, toxicology, engineering ethics, loss statistics, fire and explosion phenomenon, and management of risk, to name a few. “We voted as a faculty years ago to include these as criteria for graduate courses,” Spicer said. “Every two years we go through course outcomes to make sure everyone understands what’s being offered in curriculum and give detail in topics covered. That helps because it allows us to make sure material is covered in a uniform fashion. Also, the content of the course will not change. This works as an effective management approach. The educational experience of undergraduates is uniform.”

Spicer also said his faculty has included which ABET outcomes correspond to these topics. “We can discuss in class the ethical dilemmas associated with case studies, and then have a quiz to see if they’ve actually understood it. This is a good way to provide a written history and pass knowledge along from one person to another,” he said. The idea is, as different people teach the course, there are optional topics in the course as well. You can teach and mold this material to your style.” The SAChe website also discusses how safety subjects can be included in a way that doesn’t depend on who is teaching the course.

In reporting accreditation results, Ogden pointed to the big picture in a series of charts from ABET. If you look at all the programs, including electrical engineering, 76 percent of the programs at the end of the review cycle were re-accredited for general review; 20 percent have to write an interim report, and 2 percent have an interim visit. The actual non-accredited number is quite small,” she said.

Click here For materials to help you get started on a program. Products will soon to be available by course, such as materials and energy, or a mass-heat-transfer course, where you might work on inherently safer design. Faculty members can easily adapt the products to their programs. “You don’t have to do exactly what is on the slide. You can change things to suit your own time constraints or style and personality,” Ogden said. The student safety certificate program is available at the USCSB website. A process safety management e-book by Deborah Grubbe will be available in March 2013.

Click here for more information from the webinar.



Top Plant
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America.
Product of the Year
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
July/Aug
GAMS preview, 2018 Mid-Year Report, EAM and Safety
June 2018
2018 Lubrication Guide, Motor and maintenance management, Control system migration
May 2018
Electrical standards, robots and Lean manufacturing, and how an aluminum packaging plant is helping community growth.
April 2018
2017 Product of the Year winners, retrofitting a press, IMTS and Hannover Messe preview, natural refrigerants, testing steam traps
August 2018
SCADA standardization, capital expenditures, data-driven drilling and execution
June 2018
Machine learning, produced water benefits, programming cavity pumps
April 2018
ROVs, rigs, and the real time; wellsite valve manifolds; AI on a chip; analytics use for pipelines
Spring 2018
Burners for heat-treating furnaces, CHP, dryers, gas humidification, and more
August 2018
Choosing an automation controller, Lean manufacturing
February 2018
Setting internal automation standards

Annual Salary Survey

After two years of economic concerns, manufacturing leaders once again have homed in on the single biggest issue facing their operations:

It's the workers—or more specifically, the lack of workers.

The 2017 Plant Engineering Salary Survey looks at not just what plant managers make, but what they think. As they look across their plants today, plant managers say they don’t have the operational depth to take on the new technologies and new challenges of global manufacturing.

Read more: 2017 Salary Survey

The Maintenance and Reliability Coach's blog
Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
One Voice for Manufacturing
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Maintenance and Reliability Professionals Blog
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Machine Safety
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
Research Analyst Blog
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Marshall on Maintenance
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
Lachance on CMMS
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
Material Handling
This digital report explains how everything from conveyors and robots to automatic picking systems and digital orders have evolved to keep pace with the speed of change in the supply chain.
Electrical Safety Update
This digital report explains how plant engineers need to take greater care when it comes to electrical safety incidents on the plant floor.
IIoT: Machines, Equipment, & Asset Management
Articles in this digital report highlight technologies that enable Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies.
Randy Steele
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Matthew J. Woo, PE, RCDD, LEED AP BD+C
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Randy Oliver
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me