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Inspectioneering Journal

Lessons from a Risk-Based Career

By Brent Ray, Corporate Refining Engineering and Reliability Fixed Equipment Inspection Engineering Specialist at Marathon Petroleum Corporation. This article appears in the November/December 2019 issue of Inspectioneering Journal.
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Have You Seen the Risk Panorama?

I have been involved with risk-based inspection and risk-based work process development for much of my career.  The one thing I have learned as I’ve walked this path is that the concept of ‘risk’ extends far beyond the industry in which we work.  Risk impacts every facet of our lives. Whether or not we’re aware of it, there is some subconscious part of us that is analyzing the risks we take every day.  We regularly try to make “better choices” by limiting negative consequences to ourselves and others.

An example is when we ask ourselves questions such as, “should I take a left turn or a right turn?” One might get me to work 10 minutes quicker, but there is a higher chance of hitting stop lights and traffic which would actually take longer. In a career filled with risk-based decision making, the one thing I’ve learned is that when you think about it, we are always analyzing; always assessing the risks we see in front of us.

“We made too many wrong mistakes.”  ~ Yogi Berra

That’s what we are trying to avoid, too many ‘wrong’ mistakes.  And that’s when we realize, risks of all sorts surround us.  In my mind, risk itself has many layers.  There are many options with commensurate probabilities for winning; there are many options for losing. Each option is subject to the risks of concern and these can be described in many ways.  This is described as the ‘Risk Panorama’ - the width and breadth of risk that surrounds us and our environment.  The risk panorama surrounds us when we wake up, when we look in the mirror, and when we go out into the world.  But, in reality, it’s what we do with it that makes a difference.

Within our industry, it is important to remember three things about risk:

  • Risk Assessment is the methodology used to determine the probability and consequence of operations, and how to plan for mitigating risk.
  • Risk-Based Inspection is a tool for prioritizing inspections, through plans that include selecting the correct NDE for the anticipated damage mechanism, in order to minimize risk.
  • Risk Management is the culmination of these two items, and how we use them to understand and manage the condition of our equipment.

So, let’s back up a moment to consider...

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Comments and Discussion

Posted by Grady Hatton on December 30, 2019
Thanks Brent, We sometimes lose ourselves in our... Log in or register to read the rest of this comment.

Posted by Jason Deaver on January 6, 2020
There are a lot of really good "nuggets" in this... Log in or register to read the rest of this comment.

Posted by Tim Ganger on January 13, 2020
Nice article. Good to see you are having... Log in or register to read the rest of this comment.

Posted by Rick Nichols on January 13, 2020
Well done! Log in or register to read the rest of this comment.

Posted by Wilbur Hernandez on January 13, 2020
Excellent article. Log in or register to read the rest of this comment.

Posted by Alex Rodrigues on January 14, 2020
Great article! Excellent lessons for implementing... Log in or register to read the rest of this comment.

Posted by Saeed Bafail on March 7, 2020
It is not just a normal technical article. It is... Log in or register to read the rest of this comment.

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