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M-News Edition 12
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M-News - the Maintenance Newsletter

Edition 12, January 2001

Welcome to the twelfth edition of M-News, the first of a new millenium. This is a free newsletter on topics of interest to Maintenance professionals, brought to you by the Plant Maintenance Resource Center.

We aim to bring you the latest news and views on what is happening in the world of Maintenance. If you wish to receive notification of future copies of this newsletter by email, please register here. If you have any feedback on the newsletter, or have something to contribute, please send me an e-mail.


In this edition...
Feature Article - Recurring Causes of Recent Chemical Accidents
Feature Article - Effective Monitoring of Cooling Towers
Survey Results - Root Cause Analysis
Survey Results Update - CMMS Implementation
Current Survey - Maintenance Salaries
Book Review - By Accident...a life preventing them in industry, by Trevor Kletz
On the Lighter Side - Engineering Humor

Feature Article - Recurring Causes of Recent Chemical Accidents

There has been some discussion on the plantmaint Maintenance discussion mailing list in the last month or so regarding the most appropriate tool to be used to assess the routine maintenance program for safety-critical equipment and systems, so this article is most timely. Written by James C. Belke of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, it outlines brief case histories of several recent chemical accidents investigated by EPA and OSHA and illustrates common causes and other recurring themes of those accidents. The common causes were:

  • Inadequate hazard review or process hazards analysis
  • Installation of pollution control equipment
  • Use of inappropriate or poorly designed equipment
  • Inadequate indications of process condition
  • Warnings went unheeded

Even those who are not directly involved in industries with hazardous processes involved will find that many of the lessons probably relevant to their situation. This article can be read at

Feature Article - Effective Monitoring of Cooling Towers

This article is kindly contributed by Ralph Copp and Aaron Pieroway, of PCS Potash, and provides an excellent case study of the effective use of condition monitoring technologies to predict failures on Induced Draft cross-flow cooling towers. It can be read at

Survey Results - Root Cause Analysis

This survey closed recently, and the results are currently being analysed. Thank you to all those who participated in this survey. Detailed analysis of the results will be reported in a future edition of this newsletter. In the meantime, if you wish to see the "raw" results, visit

Survey Results Update - CMMS Implementation

In the last edition of this newsletter, I stated that, based on the results of the CMMS Implementation survey run on the Plant Maintenance Resource Center website "Statistical analysis of responses showed no clear correlation between the conduct of the usual change management/process reengineering activities associated with CMMS implementation, and the perception of implementation success". Dennis Belanger of Management Resources Group, Inc. wrote to me, and pointed out that, based on the data presented, "If you look at the results for the question of Business Process Reengineering (BPR) impact on implementation success you see that of respondents that had conducted BPR 16 rated their success as Good to Excellent and 4 rated their success as Satisfactory to Poor. (4 to 1 ratio). If you compare that to respondents that did not conduct BPR where 25 rated Good to Excellent and 20 rated Satisfactory to Poor (5-4 ratio). I think this is a significant indicator that there was a larger percentage of dissatisfaction if BPR was not conducted." Dennis is absolutely correct, although it is interesting to note that if you look at the proportion of those who rated their implementation as Excellent or Very Good, compared with those who considered it Satisfactory or Poor, in both cases, the majority of respondents had not conducted BPR (13 of 23, ignoring the Don't Knows, and 20 of 24, respectively). This, to me, indicates that conducting BPR was not a significant factor in assisting with implementation success, although I accept Dennis' point that overall, conducting BPR does seem to increase the chances of success - although, on its own, still not increasing the chance of success above 50%. An updated analysis of this survey is at

Current Survey - Maintenance Salaries

Yes folks, its that time of year again. Time for the annual Plant Maintenance Resource Center survey on Maintenance Salaries. This is our most popular survey, and all submissions are totally confidential. Last year we had over 300 responses to the survey. Tell all your friends and colleagues who work in the field of Maintenance, and see if we can double that number this year. The survey closes on March 15, 2001. You can register your response, or view the results to date at For the results of last year's survey, visit For the results of the 1999 salary survey, visit

Book Review - By Accident...a life preventing them in industry, by Trevor Kletz

By coincidence, this month's book review also has a connection with the issue of process safety. Trevor Kletz is widely recognised as an outstanding communicator on safety in the process industries, and is one of the founding father of modern approaches to safety management. He spent his entire career working with ICI in the UK, and this book is a biography of his recollections and experiences of the time that he spent with ICI from 1944, until his retirement in 1982. He is a prolific author, having written ten books, and over 100 papers on the subject of process safety.

This book is his autobiography, and is a fascinating insight into how far we have come in the area of process safety, and also a timely reminder of how much there is left to be done.

In chronological order, Kletz remembers the key events and people in his lengthy career, starting with his time as a research chemist, working through his time running production operations, and culminating in his achievements in the field of process safety. For me, the early part of his book was somewhat slow moving, as it deals largely with places and people with which I have little connection - although those who have worked for ICI at some time in their career may find it more interesting. However the book comes to life when it deals with safety incidents, such as Flixborough, and others, the causes of those incidents, and the resulting actions and events.

Kletz clearly has some interesting insights and views in the area of process safety, many of which appear to be common sense, until you realise that they have yet to be adopted into common practice in many areas. The book is relatively light reading, and provides an interesting overview and insight into Kletz's many other books - none of which, I might add, have I yet read - but this book made me want to find, and read at least two of his books, namely What Went Wrong? : Case Histories of Process Plant Disasters, which is his most popular book, and An Engineer's View of Human Error.

What Went Wrong? is available from The Plant Maintenance Resource Center, in association with, at

The latest edition of An Engineer's View of Human Error is not yet available from, but watch out for it soon.

By Accident...a life preventing them in industry is not available through, but look for it at your local technical bookstore, or contact the publisher, Peter Varey, direct, at

On the Lighter Side - Engineering Humor

A young man was crossing a road one day when a frog called out to him and said, "If you kiss me, I'll turn into a beautiful princess." He bent over, picked up the frog and put it in his pocket.

The frog spoke up again and said, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful princess, I will stay with you for one week." The man took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it, and returned it to his pocket.

The frog then cried out, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a princess, I'll stay with you, and do ANYTHING you want." Again the man took the frog out, smiled at it, and put it back into his pocket.

Finally, the frog asked, "What is the matter? I've told you I'm a beautiful princess, that I'll stay with you for a week, and do anything you want. Why won't you kiss me?"

The young man said, "Look I'm an engineer. I don't have time for a girlfriend, but a talking frog is cool."

I hope you have enjoyed this newsletter. All feedback, comments and contributions to future editions are very welcome (as are enquiries about sponsorship of this newsletter).

Alexander (Sandy) Dunn
Plant Maintenance Resource Center

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