Dwight Look College of Engineering, Texas A&M University
Home > News & Events > ISEN 681 Seminars

Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering Seminar


Title: Challenges and Needs for Process Safety In the New Millennium

Date : Sept 24th, Monday 2012, 1:50 p.m.-2:40p.m., 1027 Emerging Technologies Building

Speaker :  M. Sam Mannan

Affiliation : Regents Professor and Director Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Center McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering Texas A&M University


The process industry is a much safer industry than many other industries and is quite a bit safer than many recreational activities. Nonetheless, a majority of the incidents in the process industry occur because someone did not do what they were supposed to do or someone did not take advantage of the information that is available reasonably easily. Another issue is being able to learn from incidents and capture those lessons into our design, procedures, training, maintenance, and other programs. One of the attributes of a good safety culture that is a “must” is “learning from incidents.” There is no excuse when “lessons learned” from incidents are ignored or not implemented, particularly “lessons learned” from incidents that have occurred in one’s own organization or incidents that are widely publicized. The organization must naturally have good incident investigation procedures and all the other management systems necessary to take advantage of the lessons learned. But one factor that is often overlooked is the types of incidents that are tracked or investigated. Quite often incidents are defined narrowly and include only the ones that caused serious or catastrophic consequences. While this may be the politically expedient thing to do, it leads to some problems and pitfalls. Globalization of the economy has intensified over the recent years and, together with the development of the new information and telecommunications technology, it is bringing about radical changes in society, comparable to those produced during the industrial revolution. Chemical process safety cannot ignore those changes. And, in this context, the greatest challenge for the countries is the transformation of the difficulties involved in adapting to the new situation into opportunities for the future development of process safety. One of the most important impacts that economic integration and the liberalization of international trade have had on chemical process is undoubtedly that of the harmonization of standards. There are significant areas of need where research related to both onshore and offshore activities must be funded if advances are to be made in technology, management systems, and other aspects of process safety. Some of these research areas are listed below: Abnormal System Management, Dust Explosions, Inherent Safety, Quantitative Risk Analysis, Reactive Chemical Research, Safety Culture and Its Impact on Safety Performance.


Dr. M. Sam Mannan is Regents Professor in the Chemical Engineering Department at Texas A&M University and Director of the Mary Kay O'Connor Process Safety Center at the Texas Engineering Experiment Station. Before joining Texas A&M University, Dr. Mannan was Vice President at RMT, Inc., a nationwide engineering services company. Dr. Mannan is a registered professional engineer in the states of Texas and Louisiana and is a Certified Safety Professional. His experience is wide ranging, covering process design of chemical plants and refineries, computer simulation of engineering problems, mathematical modeling, process safety, risk assessment, inherently safer design, critical infrastructure vulnerability assessment, aerosol modeling, and reactive and energetic materials assessments.