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How is IChemE Involved with Process Safety

IChemE have just published a blog post How do we achieve, maintain and demonstrate competencies for process safety?.

IChemE and its members are intrinsically involved in sharing lessons through various streams of work; the IChemE Safety Centre, the Safety and Loss Prevention Special Interest Group, and producing journals and publications such as the Loss Prevention Bulletin, to name but a few.

There is one thing I take issue with here. IChemE membership is not exactly cheap, and yet if you want to access most of these resources, you have to pay extra.

The online only version of Loss Prevention Bulletin is an extra £110 for IChemE members1. At an IChemE event, I remember someone pointing out that this was a fair amount for an individual to pay each year. The IChemE representative immediately pointed out that most employers will pay for these sorts of subscriptions. This didn’t go down well because the company that was hosting the event did not pay members subscriptions let alone any other fees. They then said something along the lines of ‘well process safety is such a critical and central role, I a sure most members ought to be willing to subscribe to the bulletin’. So I asked the question that immediately came to mind:

If IChemE believe that it is so central to what we should be doing, why don’t they make it more central to our membership? Why are we required to pay extra rather than including it in the main membership cost?

(I just got a stunned silence for response)

And this is one of my main frustrations with IChemE. Anything useful or important seems to require and extra payment. Want to organise a talk yourself, on you go, you can make that free. Want to access something that was organised by the central office? Pay up.

On top of the Loss Prevention Bulletin, they also sell ‘case study CDs’. I was quite curious and keen to look into these when they were first announced. Then when they were available and I noticed the price (£250 per case study, there are seven of them as of today), I decided that I didn’t need to see them that much.

It does seem that if you want access to the work IChemE has put into process safety, you need to work at a company that is willing to sponsor paying for these things. For everyone else you get locked out.

How do we achieve, maintain and demonstrate competencies for process safety?

That is the question that the post asked, I suppose I ought to try and answer it:

Don’t lock our knowledge away behind a paywall. If we claim that we are a learned society, then let us share that knowledge with as many people as possible.

This is why I started Disastrous Dinners to share knowledge of previous incidents and help ensure these things don’t happen again. I have decided to organise a relaxed social event to pass on these learnings, but I completely agree that bulletins and case study CDs are also excellent ways to share this information. I just disagree that that is the sort of thing that we should charge access to.

Notes

  1. paper copies and non-member rates are higher
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Comments

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  • Tom Downie
    said on: 28 Apr 2019 at 21:00

    I get what you're saying Alistair, I have got a bit of sympathy for the IChemE. We've all got used to trying to get access to stuff free online and scream when paywalls get put up. Quality content costs money to produce unfortunately, but no one seems happy to pay for it! In this case, there are no corporates willing to put up £100K+ to produce a nice set of books and members are skint. I don't really see an alternative but for individuals to pay for things they think are valuable.

  • Euan Munro CEng MIChemE
    said on: 28 Apr 2019 at 21:01

    Good article Alistair, and while Tom Downie is right that good content can't always be free - how much are LBP authors paid? I'd be surprised if it was anything.

    Is it the case that the IChemE know that high-hazard industries that need PS the most have the most to spend?

  • Alistair Marshall
    said on: 29 Apr 2019 at 20:34

    Tom, I mostly agree. I have added more to my thoughts in a follow up post: https://a14m.uk/2019/04/paying-for-process-safety/