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Honorary Degree Orations
Professor Trevor Kletz
Public Orator, Professor Richard Wakeman presented the Honorary Graduand at the Degree Ceremony held on Thursday 13 July at 3.00pm
Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, Honoured Guests, Graduates, ladies and Gentlemen
Professor Kletz was educated in Chester and graduated from the University of Liverpool in with a BSc in chemistry before joining Imperial Chemical Industries. After working in the Research Department at Billingham, mainly on infra-red spectroscopy, he carried out various jobs in production, gradually working his way up to the position of Assistant manager of the Oil Works. In 1968 he was appointed safety advisor to the Heavy Organic Chemicals (later Petrochemicals) Division, with particular responsibility for loss prevention and process safety – and this was where Trevor really found his niche.
His appointment was one of the first of its type in the UK chemical industry, and followed a number of serious fires and explosions which made the company realise that safety needed technical input. In 1978 he joined the Department of Chemical Engineering at Loughborough University of Technology as an Industrial Professor, and later he became a full Professor in the University. In 1986 he was awarded a DSc by the University.
After his retirement from ICI in 1982 he made a second career as a consultant and prolific writer, commentator and lecturer on all aspects of process safety. The 11 books that he has written, together with well over 100 papers, have had an enormous impact on students and practitioners alike – not just in the process industries but on all with an interest in safety. He is an outstanding communicator with the insight and experience to recognise the generic lessons that can be learned from specific incidents – although Trevor would say that most of what he says is just ‘common sense’.
His common sense has earned him accolades in many countries – amongst them prestigious medals from the Institutions of Chemical Engineers in the UK and the highest honour of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers was bestowed upon him in 1995. In 1997 he was appointed with an OBE. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Institution of Chemical Engineers, and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.
In a forward to one of Trevor’s books, his old boss Sir John Harvey-Jones writes: “Trevor single-handedly taught us to look at safety in a different way .. he will, I am sure, always sleep soundly at night, secure in the knowledge that his persistence, imagination and passion have saved countless numbers of his fellow men from injury, mutilation and even death.”
All professional engineers would endorse that! Trevor’s influence has been immense, we have all learnt crucial lessons from hearing him talk or reading his engaging prose.
Therefore, Chancellor, I have the pleasure and honour to present to you, and to the whole University, Professor Trevor Kletz, for the degree of Doctor of Technology Honoris Causa.