“I work in the Refining & Chemicals branch of Total, at the petrochemical plant in Feluy, Belgium, where we produce polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene polymers. I work in the HSE department as a process safety engineer. My degree was a Masters degree in civil engineering, specifically in materials science, at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium.
In my first job in 2005, I was a junior process engineer at the polyethylene plant in Antwerp. I focused on raw material and energy consumption, provided process support to the production department and initiated energy saving projects, in response to the Kyoto protocol.
In 2007, I joined the central process engineering team at the Total Research & Technology Center. This team assists the different polymer plants in Europe with simulation and optimization of the existing process schemes, and also develops process design for larger long-term projects.
After 4 years there, I switched again to a more operational job as process safety engineer in the petrochemical plant in Feluy. Working in multi-disciplinary teams, we analyze the technological risks of our installations, collaborate with the engineering and production department to find technical solutions for a safer design, prove to the government that all risks at our plant are sufficiently managed, and at an acceptable level.
It’s very satisfying working in a very professional environment, together with all different departments in the plant. We also have external contact with authorities, auditors, university students and consultants. It’s a great combination of technical expertise and important communication aspects. Of course, it’s also nice to think that we are making the world a little bit of a safer place too.
At the moment, we are working on awareness training for all operational personnel to be more aware of the risks for major accidents in their work area (improving our safety culture). Besides that, safety reviews of upcoming projects are also being conducted.
One of the most enjoyable parts of my career to date has been the chance to move between different parts of the business. It’s always challenging and interesting, and I am always learning something new.”