Virtual On line
June 22, 2020
June 22, 2020
June 26, 2021
There have been more than 150 reported process safety failures since the 2000s that resulted in not only employee injuries and deaths but also environmental impacts and financial detriment to the companies involved. For example, an isobutane fire erupted at Exxon Mobil’s Baton Rouge oil refinery due to workers disassembling a plug valve and gearbox outside of established protocol. Incidents driven by a series of poor decisions similar to this have highlighted how critical process safety decision making is to the chemical engineering industry. Leaders of the field have acknowledged the need for process safety education by incorporating it into occupational training. In addition to training, organizations such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB), and Safety and Chemical Engineering Education (SAChE) have made strides to offer consulting services or develop curriculum tools to address these failures in process safety. Current research has shifted focus towards training engineering students to better prepare them to handle process safety dilemmas before they enter industry.
Institutions offer courses and modules dedicated to process safety, but are these measures effective? For example, a student’s attitude towards process safety is typically unable to be properly assessed in an authentic situation until the students themselves enter industry. The Engineering Process Safety Research Instrument (EPSRI) was developed and validated as a means of measuring an individual's level of moral reasoning with respect to process safety dilemmas to address this gap in the field. The EPSRI is a paper-based questionnaire that presents five process safety dilemmas, three choices on how to respond (two options with one “can’t decide” choice), and eleven to fifteen ethical considerations per dilemma. The EPSRI has been implemented among fourth year chemical engineering students at eight ABET accredited institutions with a total sample size of 274. This paper will explore student decision trends based on the choices they made in response to the five process safety dilemmas in the EPSRI.
The goal of this work is to understand why certain ethical dilemmas are especially difficult for students to evaluate. This paper will also investigate trends in students’ choices with respect to their school’s process safety curriculum. It was found that while taking the EPSRI students found it most difficult to select a choice where both options had similar immediate outcomes towards their company and coworkers. Research examining the effects of process safety curricula on student choices shows that certain assignments, such as in class discussions or assigned reading has no significant effect. Understanding these decision trends will lead to recommendations and revisions of current process safety curriculum, which could teach students more effectively and in turn decrease the number of industrial process safety failures in the future.
Stransky, J., & Bassett, L., & Anastasio, D. D., & Cooper, M., & Burkey, D. D., & Bodnar, C. A. (2020, June), Exploring Student Decision Making Trends in Process Safety Dilemmas Using the Engineering Process Safety Research Instrument Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34645
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