The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

Mushroom Composting Hazards

Graham Marshall - Saturday, March 31, 2012

The run off liquids produced when mushroom composting  are often collected and stored in tanks, ponds, or other vessels for reuse.

The liquids can often stagnate; and if not appropriately aerated, dangerous hydrogen sulphide gas and other hazardous gases such as ammonia or carbon dioxide can be generated.

There is a danger that workers may be exposed to the hazardous gases or to a low-oxygen atmosphere when they access the liquids stored under such conditions.

These gases can be immediately dangerous to life and health.

In all such cases, where mushroom composting liquids are stored, a risk assessment should be undertaken and a HSE management plan developed.

Procedures need to be developed and workers need to be appropriately trained to follow the procedures.

Mushroom compost liquids should not be allowed to stagnate, particularly during periods of high temperature.

Aeration using appropriate technology is the primary engineering control against stagnation.

And storage areas should be adequately ventilated, possibly using forced ventilation measures.

For further information about the hazards associated with mushroom composting, Work Safe BC have produced a handy hazard alert.

To access the safety alert, click here.

Testing Fire Alarm Systems

Graham Marshall - Friday, March 30, 2012

Today I'm posting some valuable guidance provided by the Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service on the requirements for testing a fire alarm system.

The most important point is that any fire alarm test should be carried out in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and the current national standard (e.g., British Standard, or AS/NZ Standard).
The responsible person should carry out a weekly test and examination to ensure that the fire alarm system is capable of operating under alarm conditions.
It is suggested to operate a manual call point at approximately the same time each week using a different call point for each successive test.

Where appropriate, inform the monitoring control centre prior to the test.

Note:   Where the weekly test proves onerous, the local Fire and Rescue Service may agree to it being carried out monthly.

However, this only applies to certain modern fire alarm systems that are tested by a suitably competent person and where such a change of test frequency is supported by a risk-assessment. 

No agreement will be given where automatic door release mechanisms operated by the fire alarm system are installed.

On a three-month basis, the fire alarm system batteries and their connections should be examined by a person who is competent in battery maintenance  

Electrolyte levels should be checked and topped up as necessary.

There should also be periodic fire alarm system inspections performed by a competent person (e.g. a fire alarm engineer).

Requirements for these inspections and tests will depend upon the type and design of the system.

i. Carry out a regular visual inspection of each detector to check for damage, excessive accumulations of dirt, heavy deposits of paint and other conditions likely to interfere with  correct operation.
ii. Each detector should be checked and tested for correct operation and sensitivity in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and the current National Standard.
False alarms will not only disrupt business operations but may also contribute to death or injury should Fire and Rescue Service resources be deployed answering false alarms when they should be attending incidents where life or property is in danger.

To reduce the probability of false alarms on systems incorporating automatic fire detectors it is very important that a suitable system of testing and maintenance is in place.

The cause of any false alarm should be properly investigated with measures being taken to avoid a repetition.

Control of Dangerous Equipment

Graham Marshall - Thursday, March 29, 2012

On Saturday 3rd March 2012, I posted a free tool box talk about the dangers posed by the use of unsafe equipment.

It is vitally important that we all take responsibility to ensure that unsafe equipment is not brought onto, or used on work sites.

Below are some tips on what you can do to control the hazards associated with unsafe equipment.



Chemicals Regulation and Impact Statement

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Australian industry and community members have only two more days to comment on proposed measures to reduce risks of common chemicals getting into the wrong hands and being used to make home made bombs.

While the vast majority of chemicals have legitimate uses, in the wrong hands, some products can be used for illegal purposes.

For example, the bomb detonated in Oslo on 22 July 2011 was composed of common chemicals including fertilizer, nitro-methane and aluminium.

A draft Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) has recently been released, weighing up the costs and benefits of several policy options, including a targeted awareness campaign, codes of practice and supply-chain regulation.

The Government is now asking stakeholders to comment on the RIS.

In particular, views and comment are sought on issues such as cost, effectiveness and likely uptake of various measures.  These measures include:

1.   Employee and contractor checking;

2.  Inventory and consignment control;

3.  Security during transport and storage; and

4.  Point-of-sale procedures.

The Attorney-General’s Department stated its particular interest in receiving input from businesses that manufacture, handle or use any products that contain the following chemicals:

Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2);

Ammonium perchlorate (NH4ClO4);

Sodium chlorate (NaClO3);

Sodium nitrate (NaNO3);

Nitric acid (HNO3);

Potassium nitrate (KNO3);

Potassium chlorate (KClO3);

Nitromethane (CH3NO2);

Sodium perchlorate (NaClO4);

Sodium azide (NaN3); and

Potassium perchlorate (KClO4).

Comments and input received during the consultation process will inform the final decision on the RIS, including the recommended course of action.

2011 Chinese Workplace Fatalities

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Figures from the Chinese State Administration of Work Safety show that nearly 50,000 people died in work-related accidents in China during the first nine months of 2011, down 16 percent from the the same period in 2010.

I'm  not sure just how great that result actually is!

Major Accident Failure Rates Project

Graham Marshall - Monday, March 26, 2012

The major accident failure rates project is a joint venture between the UK and the Netherlands to address the feasibility of updating generic failure rates used in risk assessment for major hazard chemical plants.

The approach addresses the two essential parts of a failure rate:

1.   Accidents where there has been a loss of containment of a hazardous chemical; and

2.   The plant containment population from which the accidents originated.

The key parties working together are the Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL) in the UK and the National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) in the Netherlands, coordinated by White Queen Safety Strategies.

The key stakeholders in the project are the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in the UK and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment (SZW) in the Netherlands.

While the ultimate aim of the project is to provide the foundation for developing failure rates there are other reasons for its inception, particularly concerns about major accident analysis and causation sharing that have arisen after the Buncefield and Texas City accidents.

This report and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

To access the report,simply click here.


Coal Bed Methane Indonesia Conference, 2012

Graham Marshall - Sunday, March 25, 2012

The inaugural Coal Bed Methane Indonesia Conference will occur on the 14th & 15th May 2012 at the Conrad Hotel in Bali.

The theme of the CBM Conference is on optimizing the potential of CBM towards commercialization.

According to the conference organizers, the conference aims to promote the opportunities in Indonesia's Coal Bed Methane industry .

Best of all - in my opinion - is the opportunity it provides to spend a couple of days at the Conrad Hotel in Bali - which just happens to be my favourite place to stay whenever I visit Bali.

The conference will revolve around the following themes:

- Regulatory and Legal Framework Impacting Indonesia's CBM Industry;

- Indonesia and Global Unconventional Gas Developments;

- Meeting Indonesia's Energy Demands with CBM Gas Developments;

- Attracting Investments for Growing Indonesia's CBM Industry;

- Serving the Coal Bed Methane Industry Needs;

- Global Unconventional Gas Market Commercialization Experiences;

- Early Stage CBM Commercialization in Indonesia; and

- Implementing Sustainable and Economic CBM Growth.

It would appear that as the industry begins to move past its infancy stage, Coal Bed Methane Indonesia 2012, will be timely for industry stakeholders and investors looking to benefit from the potential of Indonesia's rich CBM reserves.

To access the conference brochure, simply click here.



Fire Safety Training and Drills

Graham Marshall - Saturday, March 24, 2012

In the United Kingdom (UK), the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (2005) requires the ‘responsible person’ for a premises to ensure that all fire safety facilities, equipment and devices are maintained in efficient working order and in good repair.

Additionally, where there are employees, they should be provided with adequate safety training.

The Fire Safety Order requires that tests, maintenance and safety training are capable of being audited to ensure they are being carried out.

Fire safety training should be given to employees so that they are aware of the following:

• What to do if they discover a fire;

• How to raise an alarm of fire;

• What to do if they hear the fire alarm;

• Where fire extinguishers are located and how to use them (if it safe to do so);

• Escape routes from the building;

• The whereabouts of the evacuation assembly point(s);

• How to call the Fire and Rescue Service;

• Arrangements for the evacuation of people with special needs; and

• The dangers associated with obstruction of fire exits and wedging open of fire resisting doors.
 In addition to those points, fire safety training should be given:
• At the time employees are first employed;
• On their being exposed to new or increased risks; and

• At periodic intervals as appropriate.
Furthermore, fire safety drills should be carried out:
• At periodic intervals appropriate to the nature of the risk;

• A minimum of one safety drill each year is recommended; and

• All employees MUST evacuate the premises regardless of seniority or commitments.


The importance of issuing clear safety instructions

Graham Marshall - Friday, March 23, 2012

Free Fire Risk Assessment Template

Graham Marshall - Thursday, March 22, 2012

Today I'm posting a free fire risk assessment template that could be useful to any small- to medium-sized enterprize (SME) who needs to develop a site-specific fire prevention risk management plan.

The template comes from the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (UK) and is a good and user-friendly tool.

To access the fire risk assessment template, simply click here.

Please leave us a comment if you make use of this tool.


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