The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

What to do if stranded in cold weather

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tomorrow marks the official start to winter in the Northern hemisphere, and with the cold comes the risk of being stranded in a broken-down or trapped vehicle.  This is a potentially high-risk scenario; so some preparation may pay-off in the event of you getting stuck in the wilderness.

The key to good journey management - as with all safety management - is to be organized and have a plan.

If you become trapped, stuck or simply break-down, take time to consider each step of your plan carefully.

In almost all cases, the key survival requirement is to remain with your vehicle - your chances of survival are much improved if you do.

Featured below are some additional survival tips on what to do if stranded in a cold climate.

+   Put on the warm clothing NOW, before you get cold.

+   Remove metal jewelry as it can chill you.

+   Get your emergency supplies into the interior of the car as soon as you realize you're stuck.

+   As soon as possible, start to call the emergency services using your cell phone;

+   Also call for assistance with a CB or other radio if you have one.

+   Your car was designed to be warmest when facing into the wind, so position it that way whenever possible.

+   Ensure that the engine exhaust outlet is free of snow and check it periodically if you use the engine for heat.

+   Tie a colorful banner on the car antenna or "dune pole".

+   If you must leave the vehicle for any reason during a blizzard, tie yourself to the car using a nylon rope.

+   Check your supplies to see what you have to work with and when you can plan on using it.

+   Arrange supplies in order for their use.

+   Manage your heating systems carefully - avoid carbon monoxide poisoning resulting from heater use. 

+   Listen to weather reports on the radio.

+   Be prepared to send signals for help if rescue crews are reported to be close-by.

+   Eat high calorie foods just before sleeping to stimulate your own  internal heat production.

+   If you awaken due to the cold, eat some more high energy food and add another layer of insulation.


Winter coat, balaclava, insulated gloves, stocking cap, insulated footwear, heavy socks, sleeping bag.

Emergency Food Supplies

High energy breads or pastry, drinking or distilled water, breakfast bars, nuts, fruit, high energy candy bars. Keep these items warm, not frozen.

Other Useful Supplies

Something to keep you entertained (e.g., magazine, book, Ipod, etc).  Toilet paper and large can.  Supplemental heaters (to be used with caution for fire and/ore carbon monoxide).  Facial tissues.  First aid kit.  Prescription medical supplies.  Tooth brush and tooth paste. Keep these items warm, not frozen.

Fire engulfs fire engine

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, November 29, 2011

This image and the accompanying video show a dramatic fire that "outran the sprinklers" at a chemical plant in Waxahachie, Texas.

The fire at the Magnablend Plant started when chemicals that were being mixed caught fire, officials said.

Witnesses reported hearing repeated explosions from the plant, which is about 70 kms from Fort Worth.

The building where the fire started had sprinklers, "but the fire outran the sprinklers," Waxahachie Fire Chief David Hudgins said.

Firefighters from Waxahachie and surrounding cities, including DeSoto, Red Oak, Ennis and Midlothian, fought the blaze.

"We were the fifth company to arrive, and the flames were shooting 150 to 200 feet in the air," Red Oak firefighter Brandon Nichols said.

Early in the firefighting, a tank released a flood of some kind of flammable liquid that spread flames faster, Hudgins said.

About two hours after they began fighting the fire, Hudgins said he thought they were getting it under control."Then there was another release of liquid," he said.The flames spread so fast that they ran under and engulfed an Ennis firetruck before it could be moved.

Those flames also threatened several nearby railcar tankers where chemicals were stored, Hudgins said.

Two Magnablend employees sustained minor injuries but no firefighters were hurt in the incident.

WA Fatalities in 2011

Graham Marshall - Monday, November 28, 2011

Although work-related deaths in Western Australia have fallen dramatically over the past 20 years, the fact that we've seen six work place fatalities in November alone has spurred us to urge employers and employees to take extra care as Christmas nears.

The recent spate of deaths is unusual, with roughly 20 people dying in workplace-related accidents in WA each year.

Already ten people have died in work-related accidents in WA since July 1st

The most recent fatality occurred at the Smith Broughton and Sons industrial auctioneers' yard in Midland.

A co-worker found the body of the 53-year-old employee in a workshop.

It is believed the mechanic may have died on Friday 25th November after cutting his arm while working on equipment.

Previous to that death, Kevan Hook was struck by a skid-steer loader that had been installing reticulation pipes at Morris Place Shopping Centre in Innaloo.

On November 19th, a three-year-old girl died after falling off a tractor on a farm near Mumballup.

On November 18th, Mandurah man Peter Cucow, 66, was crushed while working on a jetty at Rottnest Island.

On November 5th, an Irish backpacker - aged in his 20s - died in a propane explosion at New Norcia.

On the same day another man died in a separate accident at a Picton scrap metal yard.

We at the Risk Tool Box are urging all West Australian workers to be extra careful at work.

Every workplace death has enormous consequences for families and work colleagues.

Although the causes of each death are unique, and as yet unknown as investigations take place, a failure to address hazards is always a central root-cause in all serious accidents.

For years now, we've been banging on about the need for every worker to use the Think 6, Look 6 hazard management process.

Please take a little more time at your work place today to spot the hazards.

Refinery Fires Show Need for Good Hazard Management Program

Graham Marshall - Monday, November 28, 2011

Two major fires and explosive releases have occurred at refineries in Singapore and Kuwait over the last couple of months.

Each incident points to the continued need for good use of the Think 6, Look 6 hazard and risk management process and to avoid complacency amongst refinery workers.

The first of the fires occurred in Singapore at the Palau Bukom Refinery - the largest in Singapore.  According to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the incident is thought to have started during preparation work for maintenance which involvede draining residual oil from a pipeline using a suction truck.

It is thought the truck caused a spark which ignitied the oil.

The second recent unwanted event occurred at Kuwait's largest refinery of Mina Al-
Ahmadi. The explosion took place at the Gas Liquefaction Plant at the refinery during maintenance
works, and four workers were killed and two employees injured.

Risk with Pressurized Air Cylinders

Graham Marshall - Sunday, November 27, 2011

Today's post is a great little link to the "Mythbuster" boys showing what can happen when high-pressure air escapes from a pressurized gas bottle.

It certainly makes you realize the energy stored inside these cylinders -  and could be used as a nice tool-box talk presentation on the risk associated with use of bottled gas.

To view the short video, simply click here.

Oppose a moratorium on Coal Seam Gas

Graham Marshall - Saturday, November 26, 2011

The folks over at the Conservation Council of WA have called for a moratorium on coal seam gas (CSG) exploration and development in WA.  For a number of reasons, we at the Risk Tool Box oppose any moratorium, and we explain why this is so below.

First up, some facts....

+   Coal seam gas (CSG) is a form of natural gas found in underground coal (and coal baring shale) deposits.

+    It is an energy source and consists mainly of methane.  In fact, it is sometimes called coal-bed methane.

+   CSG is a odourless and colourless and it is used like other forms of natural gas in domestic homes to power heaters, stoves and hot water systems.

+    CSG is also used as a fuel for electricity generation.

Where does CSG come from?

Coal seam gas is recovered by drilling a gas well into the coal seam and fracturing it with high-pressure water and sand.  This is the so-called "fracking" which has the greenies up in arms. 

Gas wells are typically drilled to depths of many thousands of feet below the surface.

A by-product of the drilling and gas recovery process is water which is pumped out of the gas well alongside the gas.  The water is usually potable and can have many useful purposes (e.g., irrigation of tress in arid inland areas of Australia).

What are the benefits of CSG?

One of the biggest benefits of CSG exploration and production activities is that they have a relatively small environmental footprint.

A coal seam gas field involves a network of gas production wells.  The completed wells exist on a pad which takes up a very small area. 

The well pads are then connected to a buried pipeline system that transports the gas and produced water to a central processing facility before sending it on to the domestic of power-generation market.

Disturbance of the natural environment is limited to construction of access tracks, small well sites, buried gas reticulation pipelines, and water management systems.

Another benefit of CSG is that it is a clean and long-sustainable energy source compared to other fuel sources (e.g., coal, wood, peat, oil, animal dung).

CSG also burns much more efficiently than coal or oil (or cow dung) and it generates approximately 40 per cent less greenhouse gases than conventional coal-fired electricity generation.

The methane gas produced from CSG wells is clean burning and results in virtually no atmospheric emissions of sulphur dioxide or particulate matter and generates virtually no solid waste.

With society’s environmental focus shifting and climate change becoming a concern to some sections of society, the advantages of gas over other fuels is obvious (unless you're an idiot!).

WA and other parts of Australia stand to benefit enormously from the exploration and production of CSG, and for that reason, we at the Risk Tool Box oppose any attempts by greeny luddites to hold back this sustainable energy source.

So, is there a downside to CSG?

The main problem with CSG is that it involves bringing a lot of water from deep down in the earth's crust up to the surface.  Deciding what to do with the water by-product is the main problem with CSG.  The water itself is not a problem in terms of toxicity or draw-down on aquifers affecting drinking water as these are found at much shallower depths that CSG coal deposits (often below 10,000 feet down).

Contrary to the popular press, CSG extraction also does not cause earthquakes, the cows won't die, and the farmers won't all starve either.  The drinking water coming out of your tap will also not be affected by CSG extraction.


Electrical Fire at De Cordova

Graham Marshall - Friday, November 25, 2011

A recent fire at the De Cordova 260 MW Power Plant in Texas highlights the ever-present hazard of electricity in electrical panels.  Even though the plant had a record of 30 years without a lost time injury, the recent fire illustrates that persons working with electricity should ever be complacent about the dangers.

What is a "black swan"?

Graham Marshall - Thursday, November 24, 2011

Within the risk management vocabulary, the term "black swan" refers to an event or incident that had, up until a given point in time never been considered possible.

For Western Australian readers, the term derives from the the discovery of Black Swans in what was then the Swan River Colony in WA.  Up until that point in time, everyone (from Europe at least) knew that all swans were white!

The key feature of "black swan" events is that it is impossible to imagine risk scenarios that are by definition, unimaginable.

That may be a scary thought!


OECD Golden Rules for Preventing Chemical Accidents

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has released a set of ‘Golden Rules’ for chemical accident prevention, preparedness and response.

The OECD ‘Golden Rules’ are summarized here:

Role of all stakeholders:
•   Make risk reduction a priority in order to protect health, the environment and property; and
•   Communicate with other stakeholders on all aspects of accident prevention, preparedness and response.

Role of industry management
•   Know the hazards and risks at installations where there are hazardous substances;
•   Promote a “safety culture” that is known and accepted throughout the enterprize;
•   Establish safety management systems and monitor/review their implementation;
•   Utilize “inherently safer technology” principles in designing and operating hazardous installations;
•   Be especially diligent in managing change;
•   Prepare for any accidents that might occur;
•   Assist others to carry out their respective roles and responsibilities; and
•   Seek continuous improvement in use of the hazard and risk managment process.

Role of workforce labour
•   Act in accordance with the enterprize’s safety culture, safety procedures, and training;
•   Make every effort to be informed, and to provide information and feedback to management; and
•   Be proactive in helping to inform and educate your community.

Role of public authorities
•   Seek to develop, enforce and continuously improve policies, regulations, and practices;
•   Provide leadership to motivate all stakeholders to fulfil their roles and responsibilities;
•   Monitor the industry to help ensure that risks are properly addressed;
•   Help ensure that there is effective communication and co-operation among stakeholders;
•   Promote inter-agency co-ordination;
•   Know the risks within your sphere of responsibility, and plan appropriately; and
•   Mitigate the effects of accidents through appropriate response measures.

Role of other stakeholders (eg communities/public)
•   Be aware of the risks in your community and know what to do in the event of an accident;
•   Participate in decision-making relating to hazardous installations; and
•   Co-operate with local authorities, and industry, in emergency planning and response.

How to report a safety incident to NOPSA

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Workers employed in the offshore petroleum industry in Australia who may have safety concerns are advised as a first step to raise their issues with their line management.

If the issues are not resolved, it may then be appropriate to raise concerns with the Health and Safety Representative (HSR) or the safety committee for the work place.

If these approaches fail to produce a satisfactory outcome, then the issue can be raised with a NOPSA inspector.

You can contact NOPSA’s incident reporting number (08) 6461 7090 or email NOPSA on:

All voluntary reports made by workers on offshore facilities are treated in confidence and can be made anonymously.

NOPSA will examine the nature of the report and decide on an appropriate course of action.

And don't forget, operators of offshore petroleum facilities are required by law to notify NOPSA as soon as practicable after any accident or dangerous occurrence at or near their facility.



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