Trevor Kletz

I always remember the first time that I met Trevor. I had recently joined Shell at one of its UK refineries and had been assigned to a new group looking at process hazards. I was duly sent off to Teesside to attend a course run by ICI. What an eye-opening experience that was! To be exposed to the eye-watering array of potentialities for disaster and to then grasp how that potential chaos could be converted into an orderly and structured management of the risks.  To understand how chronic unease did not have to be disabling but motivating. And of course, to grasp the idea of inherent safety - What you Don’t Have, Can’t Leak.

I guess the biggest lesson though was about personal conduct. About not asking for permission, but just doing what was right. As a result, during my career, I have had to ask for lots of forgiveness after the event, but I have never regretted choosing that path.  

Trevor was a true pathfinder and has inspired me and generations of other chemical engineers to grasp the difficult challenges of addressing those major accident hazards that can kill, maim, or wound people, do untold damage to the environment, generate huge economic cost & disruption, and destroy communities & businesses. He shone a light on how those events can be mapped, mitigated, and managed, and those lessons and insight are now being grasped beyond the process industries, for example in the building sector post Grenfell.

Trevor Kletz. Image provided by TCE.

This story has been contributed by Past President Ken Rivers