Industrial Engineer Engineering and Management Solutions at Work

October 2013    |    Volume: 45    |    Number: 10

The member magazine of the Institute of Industrial and Engineers

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Interfacing with safety

Good control panel design improves situation awareness for plant operators

By Laura Ikuma and Cristina Handal

Accidents in the petrochemical industry draw extensive media coverage due to the often-disastrous consequences, including loss of life. Poor display design in control room operations has been a major factor contributing to adverse events such as the Texas City refinery explosion in 2005 that killed 15 people and injured 180. The Chemical Safety Board found that critical information that should have been compared was not on the same screen (liquid raffinate entering the unit versus raffinate product leaving the unit), which did not make the imbalance obvious to operators.

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