What is Chemical Process Safety?

Chemical Process Safety is a blend of engineering and management practices focused on preventing accidents, particularly explosions, fires, and toxic releases which result in loss of life and property. Dr. Trevor Kletz is considered by most as the Father of Chemical Process Safety.

Reasons why we study Chemical Process Safety

Image of Bhopal disaster by Simone Kaiser and Der Spiegel

The world’s worst, most deadly industrial accident in history was a chemical disaster which occurred in 1984 in Bhopal, India (video / wikipedia), causing over 2,000 deaths and 10,000 injuried. In addition to Bhopal, many other industrial disasters have collectively killed and injured thousands of people and caused billions of dollars in damage to chemical plants and nearby communities. Accidents such as these occur because chemical engineering processes are some of the most potentially dangerous due to extreme operating conditions and the use of explosive, reactive, and flammable materials.

What surprises most students is that all these chemical engineering accidents were preventable. All of these disasters were the result of poor engineering decisions, made by people who lacked fundamental understanding of basic chemical engineering concepts and chemical engineering safety. All it took was a handful (oftentimes 1-3) of people who lacked understanding of the consequences of their actions to affect the lives of dozens or thousands of people. This means that knowing the fundamentals of chemical engineering and process safety may save your life or the lives of innocent people, and prevent the loss of millions of dollars of material and equipment.

Engineers have an ethical and professional obligation to only do work in areas for which they are competent and qualified. The best way to prevent future industrial disasters is to understand how to effectively and safely design, operate, and troubleshoot chemical processes. To do this we must understand chemical processes and chemical process safety.

What is the goal of this website?

Sometimes chemical process safety is taught in a separate safety course within the chemical engineering curriculum, and sometimes it is taught only in the senior year as a part of the process design course. The purpose of this website is to provide professors and students with real case studies and resources so that process safety can be more effectively and easily learned throughout the curriculum and become an integral part of chemical engineering culture.

Contributors to this website:

Safety Module Team

Professor H.Scott Fogler: Team Leader, Email: sfogler@umich.edu

Web Masters

Hangtian Zhu: Web Master (2021 - Current)

Arav Agarwal: Web Master (2019 - 2021)

Kiran Thawardas: Web Master (2019 - 2019)

Siqi Elsa Wang: Web Master (2018 - 2019)

KyungJun(Jun) Kim: Web Master (2017 - 2018)

Industrial Members

Ken First: Dow Chemical - Retired

Dr. Freeman Self: Bechtel

Dr. Marina Miletic: Miletic Consulting

Mayur Tikmani: Reliance Industries Limited

Academic Members


Professor Bryan Goldsmith: Assistant Professor, University of Michigan

Professor Andrej Lenert: Assistant Professor, University of Michigan

Dr. Chris Barr: Instruction Lab Supervisor, University of Michigan

Professor Xiaoxia(Nina) Lin: Associate Professor, University of Michigan

Professor Daniel Crowl: Professor Emeritus, Michigan Technological University

Chemical Engineering Students

Zachary Gdowski, Maeve Gills, Christina Meyer, Lydia Peters, Kara Steshetz, and Brandon Wertz: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Manan Agarwal, Sahil Kulkarni, Kushal Mittal, Kshitiz Parihar, KS Reshma, Jnana Sai Jagana, Devosmita Sen, Manjeet Singh, Triesha Singh, Anish Sukumar, and Arjun Varun Yennemadi: Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay

Dennis and Donald Faulkner: University of Zaragoza, Spain

Ayush Agarwal: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden