04 December 2017

Chair of US Chemical Safety Board to deliver esteemed process safety lecture

Vanessa Sutherland - Hazards 28
Vanessa Sutherland, Chair and CEO of the US Chemical Safety and Hazards Investigation Board (CSB), will deliver the fourth Trevor Kletz Memorial Lecture, at the Institution of Chemical Engineers’ (IChemE) Hazards 28 conference next May. The lecture will take place more than a year since US President Trump announced plans to scrap the federal agency, a proposal which shocked the process safety community.

At the time, former Head of the US Environmental Protection Agency, Christine Todd Whitman condemned the proposal as being short-sighted, and said; “If you want to put American people in danger, this is the way to do it.”

However, Trump’s budget proposal is still not confirmed, and in the interim Sutherland has led the CSB in several important investigations. Most recently, the agency announced an investigation of the fires at the Arkema chemical plant in Texas, after it was flooded by Hurricane Harvey in August this year.

The Board has had a major impact on the development of process safety legislation in the US. It’s Drivers of Critical Chemical Safety Change programme is aimed at implementing change that will achieve national-level safety improvements. Sutherland’s lecture will focus on identifying critical chemical safety challenges and improvements, based on her in-depth experience investigating serious incidents.

Her talk will also focus on shared ownership of process safety principles, something Sutherland is particularly passionate about. Speaking at an event in April 2016, hosted by the American Institution of Chemical Engineering (AIChE), she said:

“Process safety is always an evolution. You have to be open to learning. It is joined by that common bond of shared responsibility.”

Trevor Kletz died in 2013. A lecture in his name was created to preserve his legacy, and continue to develop best practice in process safety. Kletz was a regular contributor to Hazards from its inception in 1960, and is widely regarded as the founding father of inherent safety.

Sutherland, on accepting IChemE’s offer to deliver the lecture, said:

“I am pleased to accept this invitation and recognise the magnitude of having such an honour, as the past presenters are some of the most respected professionals in the industry.

"This is a great opportunity for me to continue the inspirational works of Mr Kletz.”

Formula One Analyst, Mark Gallagher delivered the lecture in 2017, and The Honourable Mr Justice Haddon-Cave (who led the RAF Nimrod crash inquiry) took to the podium in 2016.

Hazards 28, in association with the Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Center, will take place on 15-17 May 2018, at the EICC in Edinburgh, Scotland. Over 100 leading experts from around the globe, including industry practitioners, researchers and industry regulators, will share their experience via oral presentations and posters. The registration portal will open on 8 December 2017 via www.icheme.org/hazards28.

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IChemE is a registered charity in England & Wales (214379), and a charity registered in Scotland (SC 039661).