The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

Food Safety

Graham Marshall - Saturday, April 30, 2011

I don't often have so much to say about the "H" for health in Occupational Health and Safety. 

But today is definitely a "health" topic.

Have you ever thought about the difference between the words "Best-before", "use-by", or even "sell-by" or "display-until" that crop up on your grocery purchases?

Well, in the greener more eco-friendly World we all now inhabit, the UK advisory body Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) says that families are trashing up to a quarter of their monthly grocery purchases because of this confusion.

The cost is said to be about £680 to the average British Family every year.

Apparently, the confusion over product labeling means that shoppers are  unclear about the difference between "use-by" and "best-before".

So what purpose do they actually serve?

The UK Food Standards Agency says that "best before" dates are about quality of the product and NOT safety.

The "best before" date shows when a product could begin to lose flavor and texture.

It does not  indicate that the foodstuff is dangerous.

The purpose of "best before" is really to protect product manufacturers and retailers from litigation, and has nothing to do with  the health of consumers.

In contrast, however, the "use-by" date is to show when meat products, cooked meats, soft cheeses, dairy-based dessert and other similar "fresh" products may put people at risk if eaten after a given date.

So the "use by" date provides the key information to consider in terms of health risk.

Never eat food after this date.

In all cases the "use-by" date is only reliable when the foodstuff is stored according to any given instructions on the product.

For further information on this topic, click here to visit Food Standards (Australia and NZ).

White Card Construction Safety

Graham Marshall - Friday, April 29, 2011

OSH Regulations  in Australia establish mandatory requirements for the provision of construction safety induction training.

White Card  online training is the easy and flexible way to get your staff onsite quickly.

The course is interactive and filled with practical examples and animations which reinforce the content.

Pre-topic assessments enable participants to skip content they already know.

The WA White Card is also available as face-to-face training.

This course is intended for anyone working or wanting to work on a construction site.

To find out more, click here.

Bottled Gas JSA

Graham Marshall - Friday, April 29, 2011
I get frequent visitors to the blog looking for JSAs on working with bottled gases. 

While I'm OK with people spending hours searching the internet for "free" stuff, it sometimes may pay just to get your hand in your pocket and cough up the cash to buy a good resource.

If you're looking for a JSA on managing the risks in working with bottled gas, I'd suggest you click this link and get what you really need.

That way you can stop wasting your time on internet searching and get on with making the job safe!

Have a good day from the team at the Risk Tool Box. 


Best bars in the oil-patch

Graham Marshall - Friday, April 29, 2011
The oil-patch is a Global industry and over the years I've been fortunate to work on health and safety programs for companies around the World.

I've compiled a short list of my favorite bars, restaurants and hotels in some of the places I've been working.

Here they are...but look out for more next Friday...

1.    London, UK - Rooftop bar at the Trafalgar Hotel.  Just a great location right in Trafalgar Square in the heart of London town.  You even get to look Lord Nelson straight in the eye (he only had one)  from the rooftop bar at this Conrad Hotel.  One of my all time favorite experiences.  Handy for Shell or Hess employees just down the Strand.  Check it out by clicking here.

2.    Houston, Texas - The Flying Saucer.  Right on Main Street and so handy for workers from Shell, Eni, Hess, Exon Mobil, Chevron, and every other oil company in town.  A great place to watch the World wander past.  Check it out by clicking here.

3    Perth, WA - Rigby's Bar.  Not nearly the best bar in town but a must visit for anyone in the oil patch.  Full of Woodside, Santos, BHP, and Chevron employees after hours - especially on Friday's.  The covered roof over the whole building makes it especially good if you need a beer during inclement weather (i.e., winter).  Check it out by clicking here.

4.    Midland-Odessa, Texas - Dos Amigos Cantina.  As it says on the sign - "Beer, Babes and Bulls".  What more can I say!  Check it out by clicking here.

5.    Sakhalin Island, Russia - Kona Bar.  Anton Chekhov may have described Sakhalin as "hell on earth" but he visited in 1890 before the oil-industry arrived on the scene.  I started to visit Sakhalin back in 2002 and it was still pretty primitive in those early days.  Now you'll find curry-houses, sushi bars and the Kona bar.  No website but it's in the Sakhalin Centre Building in the middle of Yuszhno and close to all the Exxon-Mobil and Sakhalin Energy  project offices.  You can't miss it!

6.    Seminole, West Texas - Charlies Place.  You might be way out in the Permian Basin and be mighty thirsty but you ain't getting a drink in this dry Baptist town.  Check out "Charlies" for the best Steak in this neck of the woods.  You'll be drinking Coke or Dr Pepper though!  Check it out by clicking here.

7.    Aberdeen, Scotland - Peep Peeps.  Spit and sawdust doesn't begin to describe the authenticity of this Scottish Ale House.  Make sure you take someone who is really hard with you.  Check it out by clicking here.

8.    Luba, Equatorial Guinea - Kelly's Bar and Grill.  You'll have to get a private invite but worth it if you make it there.  Check it out by clicking here.  

9.    Karratha, WA - The Icon.  Karratha is the home-town of the energy boom in Western Australia.  Even so, it's not much to look at!  The Icon is a good place for a beer and live music.  Check it out by clicking here.

10.    Moscow, Russia - Golden Ring Hotel.  Not the best bar but certainly the best breakfast I've ever had.  A real luxury hotel and close to Shell's (Salym Petroleum) downtown  offices.  Check it out by clicking here.

Sydney, NSW.  Nothing to recommend it.  A town full of parasites feeding off hard working folks in the oil industry.  Avoid. 

Workers Memorial Day

Graham Marshall - Thursday, April 28, 2011

Today, Thursday April 28th marks the 40th anniversary of the inaugural Workers Memorial Day.

It remains a valid day of note because injuries, ill-health and fatalities continue to have catastrophic consequences to workers and their families.

And there are new and emerging challenges that HSE professionals must help organizations to manage, including:

  • The challenge of an increasingly diverse workforce;
  • New technology of which the longer-term HSE implications are not yet known or are little understood;
  • Increased potential for catastrophic accidents due to increasingly concentrated hazard "power"(e.g., within Nuclear Power Stations);
  • Increased potential for natural disasters as more and more people begin to populate areas prone to the release of natural hazards (e.g., within earthquake prone regions); and
  • Changes resulting from globalization including work organization, scheduling, and resource allocation.

On this Workers Memorial Day, I hope you make every job a safe job, and everyone in your workplace goes home safely.

Australian Code of Practice for Prevention of Occupational Overuse Syndrome

Graham Marshall - Thursday, April 28, 2011
Following on from the last two days' posts - I thought it might be useful to include a link to the Australian Code of Practice for the Prevention of Occupational Overuse Syndrome [NOHSC:2013(1994)] and the National Standard for Manual Handling [NOHSC: 1001(1990)] which both make important points about the requirements for the management of risk associated with the use of "Smart-phones" and the prevention of the so-called "Blackberry Thumb".

The Code of Practice can be found here.

The National Standard can be found here.


Blackberry Thumb

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Yesterday I posted about the Occupational Overuse Syndrome (OOS) issues surrounding so-called "Blackberry Thumb".

Today, I'll provide  some guidance on how to manage this risk in your organization.

In Australia, the National Standard for Manual Working [NOHSC: 1001(1990)] together with National Code of Practice for the Prevention of Occupational Overuse Syndrome [NOHSC:2013(1994)] require hazard identification, risk assessment and control of work tasks to be carried out by employers in consultation with employees.


This consultation should occur:

  • Whenever purchasing, or designing or implementing new workplace layout, new furniture, new work processes or new equipment - such as supplying so-called "Smart-phones" to your employees;
  • Whenever the organization identifies a new area of risk requiring assessment - such as is now know about "Blackberry-thumb";
  • During the risk assessment process;
  • When determining the risk control measures to be implemented to prevent or reduce the risk of OOS resulting from the use of "smart-phones"; and:
  • When reviewing the effectiveness of implemented control measures.


Known risk factors for OOS which may become apparent with the use of "smart-phones" include the following:

  • Awkward body posture when texting or sending e-mail;
  • Poorly designed smart-phones or smart-phones not matched to the employee; particularly associated with keyboard use, screen size, and stylus usage;
  • Factors such as body position and required force requirements for repeated movements;
  • Organizational issues including excessive demands due to the actual or perceived urgency of deadlines; required output volumes; the duration of tasks; exposure time to the task; and the number and duration of rest breaks;
  • The requirement to perform the same repetitive movements; and
  • The presence of new or returning workers who are required to perform repetitive movements without a period for adjustment.


All of the above factors should be managed if you wish to  avoid future civil litigation from employees claiming against you for Occupational Overuse Syndrome arising from their use of smart-phone technology.

Safe Work in High Ambient Temperatures

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, April 26, 2011

More than 30 workers died from heat stroke whilst working in the United States in the summer months of 2010.

In response, OSHA today launched its summer outreach campaign to educate employers and employees about the dangers associated with working in high ambient temperatures.

The campaign focuses attention on the importance of appropriately scheduling work, providing shade, enforcing rest breaks and providing water which are the cornerstones of heat illness prevention.

High ambient temperatures are a concern for many industries but especially in mining and resources, forestry, farming, road repairs and civil construction.

Further information on the campaign can be found here.

Smart Phone Occupational Overuse Syndrome

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, April 26, 2011

In my day, we used to get carpel tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, or repetitive strain injury.  All were problems that caused some degree of discomfort.
Well, apparently we now have 'BlackBerry thumb'  to add to the list of Occupational Overuse Syndrome (OOS) problems.

This new form of OOS is related to the over-use of a mobile phone for sending e-mails and texts, or playing games.

The condition is now so common that organizations need to protect themselves against future claims for workers compensation.

As with all hazards management for any job, start by using our Think 6, Look 6 Hazard and Risk Management Process to gather the right information and don't forget to record your task assessment.

Focus on the controls needed to manage OSS and make sure that these controls are communicated to the employees at risk of this form of OOS.  Then check and verify the controls are being used.

To avoid prosecutions or civil litigation, document everything!

You'll find a range of tools in our shop that will help you to identify the relevant information, develop the right approach, and raise your communication about the issues.

Tomorrow I'll make a post with a little more detail on what you need to do to reduce the risk of "Smart-phone" OOS.

Working with Explosives

Graham Marshall - Monday, April 25, 2011
Working with explosives can be a high-risk activity if all reasonable precautions are not fully established and actively implemented. 

Below is a series of photographs showing what can happen when explosives are inappropriately handled.

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