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Conservation of Life: Application of Process Safety Management


J. Klein (DuPont)


This SACHE product introduces “conservation of life” (COL) as a fundamental principle of chemical engineering design and practice, equivalent in importance to conservation of energy and mass. This presentation provides a good introduction to application of process safety and provides an overall structure for consideration of process safety by students.

COL principles that are discussed include:

  • Assess material/process hazards
  • Evaluate hazardous events
  • Manage process risks
  • Consider real-world operations
  • Ensure product sustainability.

Most of the presentation is spent on the first three principles, which are most important to chemical engineering design and education, but all principles are introduced. Important factors for assessment of toxicity, flammability, reactivity, and dust hazards are provided. Use of PHAs, layers of protection, inherently safer methodologies, and human factors for managing process risk are highlighted. The “Swiss Cheese Model” is also introduced to consider how layers of protection can fail, potentially leading to catastrophic incidents such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010.

This product can be used in the university (introductory engineering, design, or kinetics courses) or for the introduction of process safety for new industrial employees. COL can be used by universities as a concept and unifying theme for increasing awareness, application, and integration of process and product safety throughout the chemical engineering curriculum and for meeting the revised ABET accreditation criteria.

Student access: All files are available to students logged into the site.

Suggested courses that can use this product

  • Material/Energy Balances (Fundamentals)
  • Heat Transfer
  • Mass Transfer
  • Chemical Reactions/Kinetics
  • Design
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