New publication details future of process safety for academia, industry

Substantial risk remains for serious industrial incidents that could cost property and lives, but effectively integrating science and engineering principles into academia and industry can help mitigate and even prevent these incidents, according to a new publication released by the Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Center at Texas A&M University.

The publication, “Process Safety Research Agenda for the 21st Century,” is the product of a 2011 conference that was sponsored by the center and attracted a host of international authorities in the field of process safety to help develop a blueprint for the study and integration of process safety in academia and industry.

With the goal of providing a deeper examination into the root causes of industrial incidents, the group set out to address the role of science and engineering in preventing these events, says M. Sam Mannan, director of the Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Center, which is headquartered in the university’s Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering.

“This publication is the product of a unique gathering and the subsequent work of some of the top authorities in the world who are studying various aspects of process safety,” Mannan said. “It provides a roadmap that outlines the process safety research and needs that will be critical in the coming years.”

Providing analysis in such areas as inherently safer design, risk management and safety culture, the publication details 19 areas on which process safety research should focus. In addition, it examines recent developments in science and engineering, societal expectations, the role of international collaboration and the future of the industry.

An electronic copy of the publication is available for download, courtesy of the Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Center, at: Hard copies of the book may be obtained by contacting Valerie Green, assistant director of the center, at (979) 845-6884 or via email:

Established in 1995 and headquartered in the Jack E. Brown Engineering Building, the Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Center is dedicated to enhancing safety in the chemical process industry. The center conducts various educational endeavors aimed at “making safety second nature” to everyone in the industry. In addition, center researchers work to develop safer processes, equipment, procedures and management strategies to minimize losses.