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The Flixborough Disaster As A System And The Impact Of Process Safety Management On Industry Safety

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This paper seeks to use the Flixborough disaster as a case study to point out the need for systems thinking in industrial activities. There have been many industrial disasters but one that stands out in its category of Temporary Modifications is the Flixborough disaster. Using a couple of systems thinking tools described in Anderson and Johnson’s (1997) book; Systems Thinking Basics, we outline all the events leading to the disaster in comparison to the possible outcome if systems thinking had been applied. One example of systems thinking is OSHA’s process safety management standard. Based on the models used in this paper, it can generally be inferred that with the right systemic approach, industrial accidents can be totally eliminated. Numerous events have occurred over time in industry. Some of these events have paved the way for safe activities in today’s industry. One such event is the Flixborough Disaster. My objective in this paper is to analyze the Flixborough Disaster as a system and the impact of process safety management on industry safety. The Flixborough Disaster is the most famous of all temporary modifications disasters where a temporary pipe was installed in the Nypro Factory at Flixborough. It failed two months later (Kletz, 1998). The disaster was an explosion of warlike dimensions which occurred at about 4.53 PM on Saturday June 1st 1974 and left the Flixborough works of
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