The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

Can you spot the hazards for work at height?

Graham Marshall - Thursday, March 31, 2011
Today I've put together a little test of your hazard spotting ability. 

Below is a single picture showing a work-party doing a simple job at height. 

The image used here is ©Safetyphoto.

All you have to do is identify the hazards you see.

My guess is that you will fail to correctly identify any of the hazards that are present in the job being done.

Furthermore, I've included an answer sheet that I'll use to predict the things that you will incorrectly identify as hazards.

To open the answer sheet, simply click here.


Safety and Health Representatives

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Safety and Health Representatives (SHRs) play an important role in maintaining a safe and healthy working environment.

The primary function of a SHR is to assist management and employees to work together to improve workplace health and safety.

In Western Australia, SHRs require mandatory training.

The five-day introductory course should be accredited by WorkSafe WA and should be linked to a nationally recognized qualification.

Participants should learn how to carry out the important functions and responsibilities necessary to be an effective SHR in the workplace.

To find out more about SHR training, simply click here.

How to Maximise the Benefit of Senior Management Visits

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The visible presence of members of Senior Management on the “shop floor” is now routinely accepted as a defining characteristic found in organizations with a more mature safety culture.

In fact, the concept of “time-in-field” has become such an established aspect of performance arrangements that Senior Managers are now measured against it and visits are now frequently a HSE key performance indicator. 

The number of site visits completed by Managers has become a de facto HSE “leading indicator” for safety culture in many organizations.  Organizations taking this approach include BHP Billiton, Shell, Rio-Tinto, BP, Woodside Energy, Santos, Chevron and a host of others in high-reliability industries.

The assumption that management visibility is a good measure of safety culture maturity, however, is not wholly unproblematic.

For example, on the 20th April 2010, the day of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, two Senior Managers from BP and two from Transocean were visiting the rig as part of a scheduled management visibility tour.  The four Managers were either experienced drilling engineers or had previously been rig managers. 

On the day of the disaster, the four Senior Managers spent more than seven hours on the rig and during that period they spent time on a range of safety initiatives.

In spite of their presence, however, sub-sea well control was lost leading to a high-pressure release and a series of catastrophic explosions.  Eleven workers lost their lives as the disaster unfolded.

Given the generally positive assumptions surrounding time-in-field safety initiatives, this week’s blog takes a reality check and questions these assumptions. 

The enclosed slideshow (click here) provides more detail about the Management visit to Deepwater Horizon and addresses the key lessons that HSE Leaders can learn when initiating their own time-in-field visits. 

In summary, the slideshow highlights:

  • Senior Management visits often spend far too much time on lower-risk occupational safety issues;

  • As such, Senior Managers are not addressing the real HSE risk facing high-reliability organizations;

  • In response, we argue that Senior Managers need to spend far more time addressing higher-risk Process Safety Management (PSM) issues when visiting operational facilities.

  • Information about Major Accident Hazards and the events associated with them are readily available (usually in the Project Safety Case) and should be reviewed by Senior Managers prior to visits.

  • Process hazards and catastrophic-consequence incidents should always be the top priority focus area of Senior Managers making visits to high-reliability facilities.

  • Senior Managers making site-visits should always check and verify that the process hazards are being managed in appropriate ways.  This could involve reviewing a procedure (in real time) or undertaking a formal HSE Observation during a walk-round.

Deepwater Horizon was a disaster because eleven men lost their lives.  It will be still more tragic if lessons are not learned that make workers safer in the future.

To review a copy of the presentation, please click here.

Identifying Unusual Hazards

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Today the blog is covering hazards that are in some way unusual. 

The idea for this post came to mind recently when I became aware of three accidents in different parts of the World which have stemmed from the release of a hazard in an unusual form.

The first incident occurred in Japan on March 20th and involved a driver waiting in a traffic line at a petrol service station.  With a long traffic-jam and bitterly cold weather, it appears that the driver was using a portable kerosene heater to keep warm inside his vehicle.  He died from exposure to carbon monoxide – a hazardous substance.

The second incident occurred in Poland on March 24th and involved a 10-year old boy and his 9-year old sister.  Both were killed while playing with an unexploded bomb which they found in a field near the village of Konskowola in eastern Poland.  The UXO was thought to have been dropped in a WWII battle between Russian and German forces.  The boy was killed at the scene of the accident and his sister died from wounds a short time later.

The third incident occurred on 17th March at Fort Bragg in the USA.  In this incident, 10 military personnel were injured when an artillery round exploded inside the barrel of a 155 mm howitzer during live-fire training.  All were struck by flying shrapnel.

The three tragic incidents described above highlight the requirement for constant hazard awareness – especially for kinetic hazards and hazardous substances in the environment around us. 

Hazard Spotting using Stepback, 5 X 5, JSA or JHA is critical to prevent such unwanted events.

We have a variety of useful tools for identifying hazards and raising hazard awareness across a variety of jobs.  Please feel free to brouse our online store.

In memory - Val ffrench Blake

Graham Marshall - Sunday, March 27, 2011
I'd like to pay tribute today to Lt Col Val ffrench Blake who died recently.

His obituary can be found here.

Val ffrench Blake was commanding officer of my fathers tank squadron in Tunisia in World War II. 

He was shot in the head in 1942 at Bou Arada by a German Sniper but survived to return to fight the Germans in Italy in 1944-45.

We owe our freedom to the soldiers of the 6th Armoured Division.  Thank you all.


The importance of OHS "verification"

Graham Marshall - Sunday, March 27, 2011
What is OHS verification?
“If you verify something, you check that it is true by careful examination and investigation.”
"Verification is the process of research, examination, etc., required to prove or establish accuracy, authenticity or validity.”

In terms of OHS, verification involves the corrective and preventive actions arising from risk assessments, audits, and incident investigations.

It involves checking that the controls of significant risk activities need to have been effectively implemented in a manner that manages the targeted risk-exposure and continues to do so over time.

In this context we are verifying effectiveness of controls, and embedding an improved behaviour.

OHS Verification Tools include the following:


  • Visual inspections of equipment by knowledgeable people;
  • OEM reports;
  • Interviews with personnel and documented/signed by area managers;
  • Confirmed use of OHS and process hazard management documentation such procedures, P&IDs, other drawings, training records, photos, specifications, designs, meeting minutes, inspections, JHA, etc;
  • Completed, checked and approved  management of change paperwork and visual inspections at the location of the MOC;
  • Confirm with an operator or supervisor that the item/system is in place and works;
  • Observe the operation where possible and note effectiveness; and
  • Regular review and updating of risk registers.

With thanks to Phil Smith, Ngarda.


Airline Safety Video

Graham Marshall - Saturday, March 26, 2011
Is this the best airline safety briefing ever?

Check it out by clicking the link below:

Report of a Serious Safety Incident

Jay Stansell - Friday, March 25, 2011

This week I am writing about an extremely serious breach of acceptable safety performance which could easily have resulted in the deaths of two engineering ground crew working on a Aircraft which I was about to travel on.

Incident Description

I observed two ground crew on separate occasions climb from the edge-protected barriers of an Elevating Work Platform (EWP) onto the top of the starboard engine of the aircraft, ‘shimmy’ along the upper surface of the engine and then attempt to remove a small panel secured by approximately 10-20 tapping screws.

At no time whilst working outside the edge-protection of the EWP, was either worker secured to any fixed anchor point by any form of fall arresting personal protective equipment (PPE) or other fall restraining devices.  Furthermore, none of the tools – including a low voltage drill, ball hammer, and screw driver - used by the two workers was secured by any form of lanyard or other restraining mechanism. 

The potential for a fall of personnel or dropping tools was high.

On raising my concerns with the Aircraft Cabin Crew I was politely informed that everything was OK because the staff is “experienced and know what they were doing”. 

Below I am including several photographs which I took during the course of this incident over a 15-20 minute period.


Worker Number 1.  The first attempt to reach the panel with the worker in the danger zone.

Worker Number 2 observes from the safety zone of the EWP.


Worker number 1 is now safely back in the EWP.  Worker Number 2 now makes a second attempt to remove the panel in the danger zone.  Note the unused orange fall arrest device (PPE) on the floor of the EWP.


Worker number 2 in extreme danger if he were to fall to the ground from this height.


Worker number 2 now wearing the harness but not attached to any anchor point.  This picture was taken after I had insisted my concerns be relayed to the Captain of the Aircraft.





Safety Awards

Graham Marshall - Thursday, March 24, 2011
Receiving awards and testimonials is always nice.  Enclosed here is an award letter from Worksafe for my work in developing a unique hazard management training program.

Receiving a WA Worksafe Award from the Right Honourable John Kobelke MP and Australian Rules football legend Glen Jakovich.

As always, feel free to look round the risk management shop, to buy some products or to get in touch about any safety issues that are puzzling you.

The Dangers of Reactive Chemical Hazards

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, March 23, 2011

An Australian metal foundry has been fined $90,000 after it was found guilty of charges relating to an explosion that severely burned one worker and left another with severe trauma.

The workers were employed at Graham Campbell Ferrum (GCF) in West Footscray, Victoria.  On the day of the accident, they were decanting hazardous chemicals from one container into another container they believed contained the same chemical.
In reality, the two chemicals were an incompatible resin and catalyst which, when mixed could result in an explosive reaction.

It was like a bomb going off, said one of the workers, that's how I'd describe it.  The worker suffered burns to more than three-quarters of his body.  He was hospitalised for three months and spent one month in rehabilitation. 
Although the company claimed the employees should have read the chemical labels, a WorkSafe investigation found the company failed to properly manage chemicals handling and storage, while training for employees was inadequate. 

The court found that the workers had never been properly trained in the chemicals' use and dangers.  For those reasons, the company was found guilty of failing to provide a safe workplace or adequate training in hazardous substances handling. 

Victorian WorkSafe Authority counsel Nicholas Papas said the workplace law was "risk-driven" and the company should have eliminated or managed risk associated with chemical handling.

For useful tools for managing risk across a variety of jobs involving hazardous chemicals, click the links to our “personal safety tools, “operational safety tools”, “process safety tools” and “behavioural safety tools”.

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