The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

Intrinsically Safe Forklifts

Graham Marshall - Monday, September 12, 2011
Hazardous area classification is common in industries in which flammable and/or explosive gas, vapor or mist may be present for long periods of time under normal operational conditions.

Class 1, Zone 1 areas are described as those with a high potential for explosive atmospheres to be present.

Whenever electrically-powered forklifts are used in such hazardous areas, they should be purchased or leased only after the most stringent evaluation for their suitability as being intrinsically safe.
 
Enclosed here, you will find a recent safety alert from NOPSA in which a forklift identified as being suitable for "Zone 1" work, was in fact non-compliant with legal requirements and industry standards. 

 

What is a psychological hazard?

Graham Marshall - Sunday, September 11, 2011
Visitors to the blog with questions about psychological hazards or psycho-social hazards are one of the most common types of queries I get.  

In fact, I've had over 50 visitors asking about this in just the last three months.

To my way of thinking, the psychological hazard is pretty straightforward.  

We're on the lookout for deliberate and wilful attempts to cause harm by individual people. 

As I've defined hazards in the past - people themselves have the potential to cause harm. 

The psychological hazard is simply the potential for individuals to cause harm - to themselves, to other people, to equipment, or to the environment around them.

As such the psychological hazard manifests itself through incidents involving suicide attempts, assault or murder, sabotage and deliberate acts of pollution.

I distinguish the psycho-social hazard from the purely psychological form because the latter tends to involve whole groups of people with the potential to cause harm (rather than single individuals).

Such groups may include terrorist groups, criminal gangs (e.g., the Mafia), anti-capitalist Anarchist or Marxist groups, social, environmental or political movements with a specific disruptive "direct-action" agenda (e.g,. animal liberation activists or "hunt saboteurs"), or vigilante groups.

Put simply then, the psychological hazard involves individuals who wish to cause harm and the psycho-social hazard involves those individuals when they come together in larger groups with a specific harmful agenda.

For further information about the Hazard Spotting Guide which provides a detailed analysis of the various types of hazards people face in the workplace please click here.



Hot Work on Tanks and Containers

Graham Marshall - Saturday, September 10, 2011

Hot working involves all jobs that create ignition sources and these include flames, sparks, welding flash, and electrical arcs.

History demonstrates that there is a particularly high risk of uncontrolled fire or explosion when undertaking hot work on vessels, tanks or containers that contain, or have contained, flammable or combustible hazardous substances.

Such hazardous substances include petrol or diesel, thinners, engine oil, anti-freeze, and solvents.

These hazardous substances are in common use in many industries including manufacturing, mining, engineering, vehicle servicing, energy and utilities and farming.

In all cases, although tanks or containers may appear to be empty, sufficient residue may exist in seams, creases or rust-scale within the container leading to vapours at explosive levels.

Hot work may ignite the vapour contents leading to high-energy explosive releases.

In order to prevent these types of incidents, managers and workers should always ensure that hot work on vessels, tanks, or containers is undertaken using the most appropriate hazard and risk management controls.

These controls include:

1. Eliminating hot work which may not actually be necessary;

2. Substitution of safer alternatives to hot work, including disposal of containers rather than their repair;

3. The use of cold-cutting or cold repair methods;

4. Using specialist contractors who know how to manage the risks involved in hot work;

5. Using engineered controls involving cleaning, purging and inerting prior to hot working;

6. Isolating tanks being worked on from other tanks or vessels that may still contain vapour at the LEL;

7. Ensuring that employees performing hot work are competent to undertake the job safely;

8. Ensuring that an appropriate gas testing and monitoring regime is in place prior to any hot work; and

9. Ensuring that appropriate administrative controls are in place prior to undertaking hot work on tanks which may include a risk assessment, a permit to work and/or a Job Safety Analysis.

A JSA for generic "hot work" can be found by clicking here.

More detailed information is contained in the the UK HSE Code of Practice  entitled  Safe Maintenance, Repair and Cleaning Procedures, Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations (2002).

Graham Marshall

Graham Marshall - Friday, September 09, 2011

Hello, and welcome to my blog.  I've been asked a few times by visitors to the risk tool box to introduce myself.  Being a reserved Yorkshireman I've always been reluctant to do so, but since I'm a bit low on information to post this Friday, here is a bit of fluff about me.


At work introducing a HSE Intervention Program.


In the field - but not the oilfield!

So, here goes.  I'm 47 and the Managing Director of the Risk Management Tool Box Pty Ltd.

I've been working as a EHS Consultant for the past 15 or so years and mainly worked in the oil-field, mining and ports and shipping.

I've been lucky to get to travel and see and experience a wide range of ways of doing business across the World and this has helped me to formulate a number of, what I think, are unique "best practice" EHS programs.

In essence, I'll admit that I've cherry-picked the best bits of the safety practices I've seen in the oil-patch and I've integrated these practices into the programs I mainly work with.

I specialize in four main areas of EHS but all with a risk management focus.  These being:

One - safety culture surveys (where are you today?) and culture improvement initiatives that reduce risk (how do you get to where you want to be?) ;

Two - Risk management coaching and mentoring.  This is where my groundbreaking Think 6, Look 6 program has really come into its own.

Using the concepts embedded within Think 6, Look 6, I coach and mentor managers and workers to use the basic tool-kit of Hazard Spotting, Job Safety Analysis (JSA) and Preliminary Risk Assessment for managing everyday routine and non-routine activities as well as HazID and HazOp Analysis tools for managing process hazards.

This stuff is the bread and butter of my business which is putting my kids through school.  I'm lucky that my existing customers usually sell my program by word of mouth, so it keeps me pretty busy each year.

Three - my HSE Observation and Intervention Program.  I get a lot of pride from being able to get reluctant workers to recognize the need for good hazard spotting, helping develop their ability and confidence to correctly see EHS problems and then foster a culture of intervention where people stop turning a blind-eye to the little things that build-up into big entrenched EHS problems.

Four - a bit boring, and not glamorous but essential none-the-less - I work in EHS Management System design, document writing and such like. 

Outside of work, I'm a family-man with my wife and two daughters living down in Perth, WA. I think we're pretty close-knit and we have a good, honest life.

Like all gents from Yorkshire, I enjoy watching cricket and listening to it on the radio.  I especially enjoy it now that England are ranked as the number one test side and we've beaten the Aussie convicts twice in a row.  Fantastic and I can die a happy man.

For my sins, I've also been a life-long Middlesbrough FC fan ("c'mon the Boro") but you can't help where you're born. 

Also like Northeners everywhere, I tend to call a spade a spade so I'm not much good at dressing up the truth about EHS problems I see in PC overtones.  Some people like that attribute, others don't. 

Even so, that trait has only ever got me run-off a site once in my 15 year safety career and that company then had an 18 hour gas release, a fire in its laundry and a helicopter crash (no injuries thankfully) all within three months of my safety culture concerns being raised to the Company CEO.  I'd like to think that I did my job in raising a warning on that occasion.

Along the way I must have done something right 'cause I managed to pick up a PhD, a Mastery of Psychology degree, a Diploma in OHS Management, an RABQSA certificate in OHS-Management Systems Audit and a few other bits of wallpaper. 

Lastly, I enjoy a good BBQ rib-eye, a cold beer, a nice single-malt and dancing to Northern Soul - "keep the faith"!

Not all at the same time!

If you've bothered to read this far, thanks!

If you want to know more about how I might assist your business build its EHS culture, feel free to get in touch.


How to Transform a Poor Safety Culture

Graham Marshall - Thursday, September 08, 2011

Over the years I've worked with a lot of organizations with shit-house (Aussie term = "not very good") safety cultures but who have had a genuine desire to make real and lasting changes in order to reach a more mature form of safety culture.

It is my belief that any organization, regardless of its current level of safety culture maturity can make the changes necessary to reach "World's best practice" in safety performance - provided they follow a good plan.

I realize, however, that starting the EHS improvement journey can seem like an overwhelming decision with what seems like no possibility of success.

Here are my tips on what I've seen work with the organizations I've assisted over the previous 15 years.

Firstly, start really, really small.

Develop and stick to a planning template which ticks off micro- and short-term targets.  Targets need to be immediately achievable. 

Start as small as what will happen in the next task over the next ten minutes.  What do we aim to achieve in the next hour?  What is achievable over the course of this morning?  What is achievable over the whole day?

Setting and achieving realistic simple hour-by-hour and day-by-day goals is positively reinforcing.

Secondly, start with the "safety one-percenters".  You'll need to check my blog posts in January and February 2011 for more information about these.  In a nutshell, however, safety one-percenters are the low-hanging fruit of the safety world.  They're the easy to achieve targets that are almost impossible to stuff-up. 

Getting quick-wins becomes positively reinforcing.

Thirdly, once you get the easy to achieve and immediate daily targets being met over a sustained period, slowly build up to harder to achieve stretch targets and over a longer time-period. 

Establish safety targets for the whole week. 

Note that these targets can be both leading- as well as lagging-indicators.  A leading indicator would be a completed JSA for each defined higher-risk task over a whole week.  You might expect to receive 15-20 individual JSAs for review by Friday.  A lagging indicator might be a whole week worked with no recordables.  Either way, they're both good targets to aim for.

Fourthly, continue to build harder- and harder-objectives over longer- and longer-periods of time.

Within a few months you might begin to talk about monthly safety goals.  After a while it will build to annual goals. 

Before long you'll find you have five- and maybe even ten-year safety plans being discussed.

But start really small - overwise it'll all just seem overwhelming to most folks.

If you start small, you'll find the longer-term safety culture ambitions take care of themselves.

This slow process of "accumulation of good practices" will go almost unnoticed but one day, you'll wake up and realize you've built a World-beating mature safety culture.

I'm happy to talk more about improving safety culture performance so feel free to use the "contact us" page to get in touch with questions or suggestions.

I wish you good luck in your efforts.

 

What is lockout-tagout?

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, September 07, 2011
The process known as lockout-tagout refers to the practice of de-energizing equipment in order to reach a state of safety and then applying physical locks and tags (that provide information) so as to prevent the equipment from being unexpectedly re-energized.

The purpose of lockout is to allow equipment which contains hazardous forms of energy (such as electricity, kinetic energy, stored pressure or hazardous substances) to be inspected, worked on (e.g., serviced), assembled or disassembled in such a way that the energy is either eliminated completely or appropriately isolated. 

The purpose of tag-out is to provide information to workers about the current energy status of the equipment.

Note that equipment can be "tagged-out" (e.g., provided with an "out of service" tag) without being locked out (i.e., without being de-energized and isolated).

As such, "lockout" can be considered to be an "elimination" or "engineering" control within our Layers of Protection whereas "tagout" is merely an administrative control.  It is always better to apply higher level controls whenever possible.

Types of equipment in which lockout-tagout is typically applied during maintenance or servicing includes conveyers, electrical power boards, electrical motors, hydraulic systems (e.g., on crane booms), augers, oil and gas pipelines, rock crushing machinery, stackers and reclaimers and such like.

In the United States, lockout-tagout is formalized by OSHA through the Standard CFR 1910.147 and in Australia we have Australian Standard 4024.1 Safeguarding of Machinery.

In all cases, the best practice when it comes to lockout-tagout is to apply the following controls:

  • Develop an Energy Isolation Standard to specify the minimum mandatory requirements and prohibitions applicable to lockout tagout;

 

  • Develop a specific Lockout-Tagout Procedure for each applicable piece of plant or equipment within the workplace.  The specific procedures should be available in immediate proximity of the equipment being subject to lockout-tagout;

 

  • Avoid a single lockout-tagout procedure or "boiler-plate" generic procedure;

 

  • Establish a lockout-tagout training program for both authorized persons as well as affected employees.  Authorized persons are those with the authority to lockout equipment and affected employees are typically equipment operators;

 

  • Purchase and apply locks and tags that meet national or international standards;

 

  • Audit your lockout-tagout Standard and equipment specific procedures at least annually.  Revise where necessary.

Safety Advisor Jobs in Demand

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, September 06, 2011
According to the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), demand for Safety Professionals is growing rapidly.

Money Magazine article titled "The 50 Best Jobs in America" also highlighted this fact when it listed Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) Specialists as the 22nd best job to have.  A job as a EHS Risk Manger was listed at number 14.

Other encouragement for EHS professionals can also be found in US Bureau of Labour statistics that show that employment opportunities for EHS folks are set to grow by about 10 per cent by 2016.

The University of California also lists the EHS Profession as one of a dozen "hot career choices" for graduate students.

Salaries for Safety Inspectors start in the mid USD $30,000s and rise to + USD $150,000 for experienced EHS practitioners working in the America.
 

Construction Industry Fatalities in the UK 2010-2011

Graham Marshall - Monday, September 05, 2011

Interim figures released by the UK Health and Safety Executive for the recent period - April 2010 to March 2011 - indicate that 50 construction workers were killed at work last year in the UK. 

Although UK construction industry deaths have seen a downward trend over the previous decade, last year's figurees show a 22 per cent increase on the previous year's figures.  The rate of fatal injury in U.K. construction has increased to 2.4 per 100,000 workers.  This is very concerning.

HSE chief construction inspector Philip White said “the construction industry continues to see more deaths than any other industrial sector.  We must not lose sight of the fact that 50 construction workers failed to come home last year, and that will have devastated those they leave behind.”

According to the UKHSE, the majority of the 50 fatalities recorded in 2010-2011 occurred on small construction projects.

Philp White noted that larger construction companies have shown “steady improvements” over the last 10 years, and smaller companies should follow their lead.

This is not about money, it's about mindset – planning jobs properly, thinking before you act and taking basic steps to protect yourself and your friends,” White explained.

Once again, the importance of embedding the Think 6, Look 6 hazard and risk management process within daily work activities is shown to be critical to controlling risk on construction sites.

Click on the JSA Manual link directly below this text for further information about Job Safety Analysis for use in construction projects.

 

Chemical Labeling Guidelines

Graham Marshall - Sunday, September 04, 2011

Across the European Union, the objective of the newly introduced European Classification, Labeling and Packaging Regulation (CLPR) is to create a consistent labeling system for hazardous substances in use within member countries regardless of where the chemicals are manufactured.

The new CLPR  label, consisting of a diamond with a red border is replacing the existing classification label of an orange square danger symbol.
 
The old design has been in use in Europe for more than 40 years.

The European Agency for Health and Safety at Work (EU-OSHA) offers the following hazardous material labeling guidelines:

1. Labels must indicate the name of the substance, the origin of the substance, danger symbols, indication of danger involved in the use of the substance and a reference to the special risks arising from such dangers.

2. The dimensions of the label must not be less than 52mm by 74 mm.

3. European countries may require their national language to be used in the labeling of chemicals.

Efforts to standardize chemical labeling under the UN Globally Harmonized System for the Classification and Labeling of Chemicals are also well advanced and will soon come into place in the USA, Asia, Africa and Australasia.

Watch this space!

What is the best way to reduce risk?

Graham Marshall - Saturday, September 03, 2011
In many cases, the best way to reduce risk is through inherently safer design at the front end of project development and prior to construction and operation.

The principles of inherently safer design typically involve an attempt to eliminate risk by removing sources of hazard potential.

Within the "hierarchy" of risk control, elimination of hazards is always the most favoured approach to risk reduction.

Inherently safer design also involves attempts by designers to substitute the potentially more dangerous hazards with less hazardous ones.

Inherently safer design also seeks out ways to separate people from hazards and from the potential consequences of foreseeable future (unwanted) events.  An example of separation can be found where offshore (marine) well-head platforms are designed to be "unmanned" and controlled from a shore-based central control room (CCR).

Other aspects of inherently safer design include the following:

  • Attempts to control of the magnitude and frequency of potential accidents;

 

  • Attempts to mitigate the impact of foreseeable incidents on people; and

 

  • Appropriate consideration of emergency response planning.

 


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