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PT Notes

Critical Thinking in Process Safety Management

PT Notes is a series of topical technical notes on process safety provided periodically by Primatech for your benefit. Please feel free to provide feedback.

Process safety management requires many decisions to be made that influence the safety of processes. Such decisions are subject to the frailties of human thought processes. Indeed, poor decisions have led to process safety incidents. The discipline of critical thinking can be used to evaluate the merits of decisions.

Critical thinking addresses human and psychological factors that influence decisions, including those decisions made in a group context. Most process safety practitioners have not been trained in these aspects of critical thinking and, consequently, they are unlikely to be addressed in process safety studies. Critical thinking has an essential role to play in process safety management. Its application will reduce the likelihood of incidents. Key facility personnel should be trained in critical thinking.

A framework for applying critical thinking in process safety is described in the following article and its use is illustrated with a worked example:

A Framework for Critical Thinking in Process Safety Management, Process Safety Progress, Volume 35, Issue 4, pages 337–340, December 2016.

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