Chemicals play a key role in today’s high-tech world. The chemical industry is linked to every technologically advanced industry, and only a handful of the goods and services we enjoy on a daily basis would exist without essential chemical products. Furthermore, chemicals are a big business in Texas, where the state’s chemical complex is the largest in the world. The industry provides jobs for more than 85,000 Texans, and the state’s chemical products are shipped worldwide at a value of $15 billion dollars annually. The use of chemicals is a double-edged sword. Safe use creates a healthier economy and a higher standard of living. Unsafe use threatens our lives, our businesses and ultimately our world. For this reason, working and living safely with chemicals are the ultimate focus of the Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Center.
In Memory of Mary Kay O’Connor and Dr. Sam Mannan
The Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Center was established in 1995 in memory of Mary Kay O’Connor. Ms. O’Connor was an operations superintendent who was killed in an explosion on October 23, 1989 at the Phillips Petroleum Complex in Pasadena, TX. Ms. O’Connor graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a degree in chemical engineering and from the University of Houston-Clear Lake with a Master of Business Administration.
From 1997-2018, Dr. Sam Mannan, a world-renowned expert in process safety, was the founding executive director of the Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Center. He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, then pursued graduate education and earned master’s and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Oklahoma. A process safety pioneer, Dr. Mannan’s work influenced the entire chemical engineering industry in the U.S. and worldwide and directly led to industry’s adoption of more rigorous safety standards throughout his more than 20 years with the center. After his passing on September 11, 2018, the center strives to continue fulfilling his legacy as a driving force behind process safety education and awareness.