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Whose Safety is it anyhow?

Personal Protective Equipment-1Where I live between Seattle and Vancouver, not many vegetables grow in November. We planted some red organic carrots late in August and I went out this November 14th weekend curious to see how they were doing. I was surprised to find a few of them as big as my thumb and pretty tasty.

So how is this about Safety?

I got my safety training at the ARCO and then BP Cherry Point oil refinery. The Safety Program was built around asking WYE – What’s Your Exposure. I’m going to congratulate and thank Curt Brisky for his big success in starting the WYE program and Greg Rust the Safety Manager for supporting it. That WYE question became so ingrained in us that we automatically asked it whenever we were prepping for a job.

Whether you’re working the sulfur recovery unit, tailgas, sour water or pulling amine samples, the WYE question is always appropriate.

Why are you doing this or that, WYE? What’s Your Exposure! I know that is one of the reasons Cherry Point Refinery is consistently in the Solomon top quartile and very low on the OSHA safety ratings.

They even gave us Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)–safety glasses, ear plugs and gloves–to take home. Why not be safe 24 hours a day.

When I ran out to the garden the other day, I didn’t bring my safety glasses or leather gloves. After all, I was just checking the carrots. But while I was there I noticed several branches the wind had blown down and spied some new roses. I picked up the tangle of branches, and did not get poked in the face or eye. Then I pruned several roses to bring inside. Not so lucky on the thorns, I have the scratches to prove it.

Why didn’t I grab the gloves and glasses on the way out, just in case. Was it for convenience? I exited out from the deck and would have to have gone all-the-way-around-to-the-garage to get my PPE. Or was it invincibility (or stupidity) theory? “I’ll be alright just this once.”

At the refinery they give you a lot of grief for not wearing your PPE and rightly so.

But no one’s going to make me wear PPE at home, just like no one’s going to make me plant vegetables or flowers. My quality of life, my hobbies, and yes my simple safety choices are up to me.


Why not be safe?

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Posted by: Paul R Orlowski

Paul Orlowski is General Manager for the Refining Community which includes,,, Resid Hydrocracking and SDA. They consult at refineries around the world. They've hosted 36 technical conferences around the globe, trained 1,000's and completed very beneficial consulting and troubleshooting projects. Paul co-founded Inc in 1998 with Gary Pitman. Evan Hyde later joined the team. Besides being an educator and software applications engineer, he worked 18 years at ARCO and BP refineries near Seattle, WA USA. Previously he worked for Science Applications International Corporation and Dealer Information Systems. In 2019 look for #RefComm Galveston Coking | CatCracking | Resid Hydrocracking and RefComm® Rotterdam Coking | CatCracking. In 2020 Galveston; Gdansk, Poland and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Singapore.

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