“It is scary to see an accident happening at site while you are trying to convince a Client for implementation of safety measures on the same subject during HAZOP

“Here is a million dollar question”

What needs to be done to make someone to consider and accept your ideas or views or recommendations based on sound principles and after hectic mutual discussions based on facts and figures?

Under an ideal state, normally it shouldn’t take much time for any sensible person to go against such wise decisions, right?

But in real world it does not happen as straight forward as it looks to be, as generally people do not want to accept some sage advice coming from third parties like us since they believe that they know about their facilities and everything is in control and being managed well all these years.

No one wants to even believe that things might go wrong at some point of time and they must better be prepared to anticipate any eventuality of a failure either due to human error or equipment malfunctioning or safety systems not meeting the stated requirements.

Murphy’s Law seems to remind us this particular fact of uncertainty. Even the best laid plans can sometimes go awry, they say. While everyone seems to realize the impact that can cause harm or reputation of the Company, leave alone other aspects of damage as and when they go out of control which can lead to huge uproar from society also.

Coming to the issue of our main discussion, I wish to narrate what had happened in a given situation.

What was thought to be a simple node discussion by the Client, about drainage system of closed type involving heavier liquid hydrocarbon dragged on into more intense deliberations. The more and more questions were raised the less satisfying were the responses about existing SOPs’ for the specific activity. No JSA seems to have been thought off. No anticipation of where things may not perform as per our intentions, what could be the likely repercussions etc. No check lists and TBTs seem to have been insisted.

By the end of business hours, the Client representative got convinced about the outcome of discussions and accepted to retain our recommendations.

Next day, while opening the door at our hotel room there was the day’s newspaper and a quick glance on headlines made me feel very upset as the news was about an accident on the previous night involving the same scenarios of our discussions on the same subject activity but in another part of the Client’s complex resulting in few casualties getting admitted into hospital.

Needless to say that our deliberations and findings have been proved right but this is not to say that this incident should have been the one to prove our point but rather a stark but inevitable reminder which sometimes becomes the only effective manner through which people feel convinced on having such exercises to identify the hazards which they have been managing knowingly or unknowingly so far without any serious repercussions.

It was no wonder that Client’s participation during the later days went out quietly and with more respect and rapt attention on issues being discussed. There was also unanimous acceptance on recommendations arrived at.

As people, having represented various industries throughout our career in the past, it is always our wish that we should not try to learn after getting involved in  incidents and accidents on our own but rather be proactive to embrace the lessons learnt from the pains of others.