By David Gibble
Whether at home, on the job or out and about, there is inherent risk in life. Simply crossing a busy street carries risk.
Traffic signals moderate congestion and our traffic laws mitigate risk for drivers, passengers and pedestrians. Even more important, the knowledge and experience of those walking or riding is the greatest possible hedge against risk.
But when we do the same tasks day after day without adverse effect, complacency can creep in. Thousands of cars pass through a busy downtown Chicago intersection every day. A similar number of people walk across that street every day. It only takes one misstep, though, to lead to catastrophe — e.g., a driver distracted or pedestrian not seeing a "don’t walk" sign.
The same analogy holds true for the industrial workplace. Take as an example the refineries, plants, facilities or terminals that handle, store, transfer and transport thousands of gallons of critical, potentially dangerous or hazardous petroleum or industrial-chemical products.
Hazardous liquids are often transferred at high temperatures and pressures. The combination raises the safety stakes for owner/operators. For example, if just one time a distracted employee, who has participated in a loading or unloading operation hundreds of times, doesn’t recognize a line is pressurized and opens it, bad things can happen.
Employees handle products safely based on good training and oftentimes decades of experience. Equipment suppliers take great pains and spend many hours and research dollars to design, engineer and develop equipment, including loading systems, hoses and couplers, for safe operations.
But all it takes is that one time…
In this regard, a recently introduced disconnect coupling is impossible to disengage — whether intentionally or by accident — when used in fluid transfers that are under high-temperature or high-pressure.