Process safety in the pharmaceutical industry: a selection of illustrative case studies

Anna L. Dunn, Andrew Payne, Peter R. Clark, Christopher McKay, Glynn D. Williams, Katherine Wheelhouse, Kevin Arendt, Frank Dixon, Susan Shilcrat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Awareness of best safety practices in the industrial sector will allow students in chemistry and chemical engineering programs to apply these approaches to their own safety assessments. Process safety is a critical function within the pharmaceutical industry to ensure safety when performing reactions. An introduction to process safety and a series of case studies illustrating how safety is routinely considered within the pharmaceutical industry is presented. The concepts presented herein are applicable to multiple industries, academic research, and chemical reactions conducted on all scales. The case studies include examples where a synthesis was redesigned to afford a triazole intermediate without forming potentially explosive byproducts, an exothermic reaction was controlled by understanding the heat output with time and developing a portion-wise addition procedure, and a reaction that displayed extremely fast gas evolution was managed by using an alternative solvent and controlling the rate of reagent addition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-182
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Chemical Education
Issue number1
Early online date21 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jan 2021


  • pharmaceuticals
  • graduate education
  • industrial chemistry
  • problem solving/decision making
  • thermal analysis


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