LPB: Access All Areas

Article by Fiona Macleod CEng FIChemE

Key safety resource is now free for members, says Fiona Macleod

SOME good news for 2021 - from January the digital version of the Loss Prevention Bulletin (LPB) will be free to all classes of IChemE membership.

LPB started out of discussions led by Ted Kantyka and inspired by Trevor Kletz’s ICI Safety Newsletters, to record stories of accidents – in order to prevent the same things happening again.

The archive now contains almost 2,000 papers going back to the very first edition in 1974 – including stories, case studies, and best practice – what to do, and what not to do. In 2019, the LPB archive moved to a new platform which is easier to access and search. And by opening up this valuable resource to the entire IChemE membership, we hope to boost the collective knowledge and understanding of this important subject, with the ultimate aim of enabling our members to create a safer workplace and protect the environment.

In his book, Lessons from Disaster, Kletz claimed that there are no new accidents. The same things have happened before, for similar reasons, but those involved in the latest accident were unaware of the previous lessons learned. One way to avoid new accidents is to understand old ones. The LPB is the “memory book” of the Institution of Chemical Engineers.

For me, the greatest strength of LPB is the collection of in-depth case studies. If people only see summaries of accidents, they may think: “Well that couldn’t happen to me, here. I’d never be so foolish as to store 40 t of methyl isocyanate in a centre of population and switch off all my safety systems!”

But with almost all major accidents, there are multiple small slips which led up to a major disaster, and for most us in manufacturing, some of those slips will be unpleasantly familiar. You may think you know what happened in Bhopal in 1984, but I will guarantee that if you read the special editions focussing on major accidents in the process industry, you will learn something new – something useful to your current job.

The stories that resonate and stay with us can also be from allied industries. Over many decades, Tony Fishwick, our most prolific contributor, has been examining the stories of the less well-known accidents. Stories that really make you think – like the Great Molasses Spill in Boston, US.

Learning from accidents has never been easier, with help from internet search engines and Wikipedia articles, CSB videos, graphic novels, and the LPB archive. And yet accidents continue to happen. Why?

In real work, people face a variety of difficulties, complexities, dilemmas and trade-offs and are called on to achieve multiple, often conflicting, goals. It is practically impossible to provide guidelines or instructions that are detailed enough to be followed “mechanically”. How work is actually done, how everyday performance is adjusted to match the conditions and why things go well is a prerequisite for understanding what has gone or could go wrong. We remember stories about accidents far better than we remember disconnected advice. And by remembering, we avoid repeat pitfalls.

You can access this valuable resource via www.icheme.org/knowledge/loss-prevention-bulletin, using your membership details. Alternatively, log on to “MyIChemE”, where you’ll find LPB listed under “My Resources”.

We need everyone to open the memory book and act on the lessons learned!

Article by Fiona Macleod CEng FIChemE

Managing Director of Billions Europe and Volunteer Chair of the Loss Prevention Bulletin Editorial Panel

Recent Editions

Catch up on the latest news, views and jobs from The Chemical Engineer. Below are the four latest issues. View a wider selection of the archive from within the Magazine section of this site.