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Industry Remembers the Life and Contributions of Trevor Kletz

By Greg Alvarado at Inspectioneering Journal. This article appears in the November/December 2013 issue of Inspectioneering Journal

It is with sadness that I learned of the passing of one of the world’s greatest authorities on chemical process safety, Dr. Trevor Kletz; a man I deeply respected and admired for his commitment to improving safety, preventing accidents, and saving lives. Although I never met Dr. Kletz, I certainly wish I had. He was a pioneer in the discipline of process safety management, and had the courage and conviction to speak up about industrial shortcomings at times when others would not. He wrote and spoke candidly on causes of industry incidents and provided insight on how to prevent them with a deep understanding of root causes. His ideas were practical and honest, and he had a way of communicating them in a simple, yet effective manner! It was clear Dr. Kletz was passionate about the subject, as he wrote prolifically and if I may use the word in an industrial setting, poignantly. Living relatively close to Texas A&M, where Dr. Kletz had become an adjunct professor as of the last few years, I had hoped that an opportunity would present itself where I could meet and chat with him, but mainly listen to him. Unfortunately it did not happen.

Dr. Trevor KletzDr. Trevor Kletz

As some of you know, I often quote Dr. Kletz in presentations and articles on asset integrity and risk management due to the high value I place on his perspective. He published numerous works over his long and illustrious career. Many of which I found to be an easy read and in a context that to me, a former chemist with plenty of chemical plant experience, were both entertaining and sobering. Two books in particular are “What Went Wrong?” and the follow up, “Still Going Wrong.” The titles alone spoke volumes to me, personally.

If you are interested, the following is a list of some of the fantastic works written by Dr. Kletz:

  • Cheaper, Safer Plants, or Wealth and Safety at Work: Notes on Inherently Safer and Simpler Plants (1984), IchemE, ISBN 0-85295-167-1;
  • Improving Chemical Engineering Practices: A New Look at Old Myths of the Chemical Industry (1989), Taylor & Francis, ISBN 0-89116-929-6;
  • Critical Aspects of Safety and Loss Prevention (1990), Butterworths, ISBN 978-0-408-04429-5;
  • Plant Design for Safety – a User-Friendly Approach (1991), Taylor & Francis, ISBN 978-1-56032-068-5;
  • Lessons from Disaster - How Organisations Have No Memory and Accidents Recur (1993), IchemE, ISBN 0-85295-307-0;
  • Learning from Accidents (1994/2001), Butterworth-Heinemann, ISBN 0-7506-4883-X;
  • Dispelling Chemical Engineering Myths (1996), Taylor & Francis, ISBN 1-56032-438-4;
  • Process Plants – a Handbook for Inherently Safer Design (1998), Taylor & Francis, ISBN 978-1-56032-619-9;
  • What Went Wrong? Case Histories of Process Plant Disasters (1998) Gulf, ISBN 0-88415-920-5;
  • Hazop and Hazan, 4th ed. (1999), Taylor & Francis, ISBN 0-85295-421-2;
  • By Accident… a Life Preventing Them in Industry (2000), PFV, ISBN 0-9538440-0-5;
  • An Engineer’s View of Human Error, 3rd ed. (2001), IChemE, ISBN 0-85295-430-1;
  • Still Going Wrong: Case Histories of Process Plant Disasters and How They Could Have Been Avoided (2003) Gulf, ISBN 0-7506-7709-0;
  • What Went Wrong?: Case Histories of Process Plant Disasters and How They Could Have Been Avoided, 5th ed. (2009), Butterworth-Heinemann/IchemE, ISBN 1-85617-531-6.

Farewell Dr. Trevor Kletz! Who will pick up the mantle?

-Greg Alvarado, Chief Editor


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