The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

Speed Fines Shown to Increase Accidents

Graham Marshall - Monday, April 30, 2012

In 2009 State Senator Leland Yee authorized legislation which approved the doubling of traffic infringement fines on four of San Francisco's busiest roads.

The four roads involved in the special legislation included 19th Avenue, Van Ness Avenue, Lombard Street and Park Presidio Boulevard.  The first three roads form State Highway 1 and US Highway 101 as they pass through San Francisco.

But after two years of implementation, the outcome of the doubling of traffic fines In San Francisco has been a significant increase in both traffic accidents and injuries.

The San Francisco Examiner (Sunday April 15th, 2012) reporting on information released by the SF Police Departed shows:

+    68 per cent increase in traffic injuries on 19th Avenue;

+    281 per cent increase in traffic injuries on Lombard Street; and

+   122 per cent increase in traffic injuries on Park Presidio Boulevard. 

Only Van Ness Avenue reported a drop with traffic injuries falling by just 7 per cent.

The San Francisco results are a further example of the lack of evidence that imposing speed fines result in improved safety for road users.

In Perth (WA), the Road Safety Council and Western Australian Government are still trying to con WA motorists that the speed fines are anything other than a road tax on motorists.  Over here in Australia, it's nothing more than revenue raising wrapped up as a "safety campaign".

San Francisco shows the rot at the heart of the road safety campaign in WA!




Power Tool Safety

Graham Marshall - Sunday, April 29, 2012

This safety alert from the good folks at the Marine Safety Forum highlights the criticality of using grinders and other electric power tools which have so-called "dead-man operability".

That simply means that the grinder has an auto-shut off switch which kills the power if the tool is not being actively used.

Dead-man operability on powered tools is vital in situations where a tool could be inadvertently set down or dropped; for example if someone slips or becomes ill (e.g., heart attack).

Any auto-shut off switch on a powered tool is safety-critical equipment and it should never be purposefully over-ridden or removed.

As the example from the MSF shows, a worker using a grinder (without dead-man operability) dropped a grinding machine which continued to rotate and cut into his leg causing a 5cm gash.  Nasty!

Check Emergency Shower and Eyewash Stations

Graham Marshall - Saturday, April 28, 2012

Site visits by mines safety inspectors in Western Australia over the past year have revealed that far too many safety shower and face or eye-wash combination units do not work properly.

Frequently, the shower and eye-wash components do not perform efficiently when used simultaneously.

The most common fault is that water supply pressures are too low and do not meet the manufacturers’ minimum requirements.

Emergency showers and eye-wash stations need to be regularly checked by the mine operator and they must also be maintained in good condition — no-one wants to discover there is a problem when they already have a hazardous substance on their skin or in their eyes.

To raise awareness of this issue, Resources Safety (WA Department of Mines and Petroleum) has produced a poster that summarizes the requirements of the relevant Australian Standard (AS 4775:2007), and can be used as a prompt when checking emergency shower and eye-wash stations.

The poster can be downloaded by clicking here (it is 7.3 MB so may take a few moments to upload).

John Holland Fined for Wayne Moore Fatality

Graham Marshall - Friday, April 27, 2012

The maximum civil penalty of AUD $242,000 has been handed-down this week by the Federal Court to Leighton Holdings following the death of  worker Wayne Moore, 45.

Wayne, who was an employee of John Holland, fell 10 meters after he stepped onto an unsecured sheet of grid mesh at BHP Billiton’s Mount Whaleback mine at Newman on March 19th, 2009.

Workplace inspectors found there had been two other incidents involving unsecured flooring mesh at the Mount Whaleback mine in the weeks leading up to Mr Moore’s death.

The Federal Court ruled that John Holland had breached federal work health and safety laws by failing to take all reasonably practicable steps to protect the health and safety of its workers.

The AUD $242,000 fine imposed on John Holland is the maximum civil penalty upon a company for a breach of the general duty of care requirements under the Commonwealth OHS Act.

In addition to the fine, the Court imposed an enforceable undertaking from John Holland and John Holland Group, requiring them to implement better safety practices in their operations across Australia.

They are also required to share these improvements with the construction industry, including through the Federal Safety Commissioner.

The court decision sends a message to unsafe employers about the serious consequences of failing to meet their OSH legal obligations.

That message is even more important for employers to understand, since new work health and safety laws came into force January 1 this year and the penalties available to Courts are now much higher for similar cases.


Unconventional Oil

Graham Marshall - Thursday, April 26, 2012

Unconventional oil fields are those that have needed higher than industry-standard extraction technology and greater levels of investment to explore and produce.

At one time, sub-sea sources of oil from the continental shelves - the Gulf of Mexico, North-sea and Australian NW-Shelf were "unconventional".

Today, however, the two most common types of unconventional oil are found onshore in oil-bearing shale and the oil-sands.

Up until the mid-1990s, with simpler, cheaper and more readily available sources of oil available from the Middle-East and elsewhere, unconventional oil was overlooked.

But with higher prices for oil and a desire in the USA for energy security and a reduced reliance on Arab oil, domestic investment in unconventional oil has risen dramatically.

The result is that these new sources of oil are coming onstream in North Dakota, Ohio, Texas and elsewhere.

Whether by luck or good judgement, the Risk Management Toolbox has been at the forefront of safety implementation in unconventional oil development since our business began.

Our cornerstone customers in the Bakken (ND) and the Surat basin (Queensland) have kept us busy because they've come to know that our unconventional approach to HSE is proven!

We think we're fortunate to have been a leader in developing safe systems of work for the unconventional oil sector.

And we know we're lucky to work with unconventional businesses that see value beyond the conventional - whether it be conventional oil and gas, or conventional safety programs. 

We love working with unconventional leaders!  It's what makes us get up in the morning!

Hand Injury Prevention

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Injuries to the hands are one of the most common consequences of incidents occurring in the workplace - almost everday.

Presented here is an example in which a seaman trapped his finger in a pinch between a removable gangway and a fixed valve stem on the ships superstructure.

As with most such examples, fingers come off second best when they're pinched between a moveable piece of steel and a static and immovable piece of steel!

This example, from the folks at the MSF, is also notable because it highlights how work crews can often not take enough time and effort to assess simple tasks involving manual handling.

As this example demonstrates, it is often just these types of routine and relatively low-risk manual handling jobs in which people hurt themselves quite badly.

That's why it is a good idea to take the time to plan every job using Think 6, Look 6 so you understand the hazards (kinetic and bio-mechanical energy in this case) and the triggers which can cause you a problem!


Lowering Belly Plates on Earth Moving Equipment

Graham Marshall - Monday, April 23, 2012

Over recent years, there have been numerous serious and fatal accidents involving the lowering and raising of “belly plates” (bottom guards) on heavy earth-moving equipment during inspections, maintenance and repairs.

The belly plates can unexpectedly fall if the guard is not appropriately supported.

This type of incident can frequently result in serious or fatal crush injuries.

The common contributory factors identified include:

• Failure to establish and follow appropriate work procedures;

• Failure to plan and supervise the work using JSA and procedures to ensure the correct equipment in use;

• Lack of training in bottom guard lowering and raising process, and lack of periodic re-assessment;

• Lack of use of lifting and lowering aids or component handling equipment;

• Employees positioned themselves directly under the bottom guards while removing nuts and bolts;

• Failure of the securing devices and absence of back-up protection such as blocks; and

• Inadequate lighting.

In response to recent fatal accidents, bottom guard lowering and raising on earth-moving equipment must be regarded as a safety critical task.

The job needs to be performed by competent persons in accordance with documented procedures addressing all the hazards.

Included below are some further hazard management actions which should be applied in minimizing the risk involved in lowering belly plates:

• Work in a workshop with the aid of fit-for-purpose lifting and lowering equipment;

• Complete a JSA and implement controls with management input, approval and supervision;

• Equipment component change-outs, repairs, testing and inspection should always be recorded;

• Workers should not position themselves directly beneath the belly plates;

• Stop and delay the work if inclement weather, poor lighting or visibility are present; and

• Regular monitoring and supervision should be undertaken, including task observation and peer review.

Another Failure with LOTO

Graham Marshall - Sunday, April 22, 2012

I'm following up on yesterday's post with another example of a common type of failure with "lock-out, tag-out" (LOTO).

This example highlights the risk in using single locks and keys for a whole work party, and then passing the key to a third party who is able to remove the lock and re-energize the system being worked on.

This is a most dangerous way to organize LOTO.

A better alternative is to have a single lock (and key) and to place the key inside a group lock box.  Each individual worker involved in the isolation activity can then place their own individual lock on the group box - ensuring that no one can remove the LOTO without their knowledge or approval.

Failure to Lock-out, Tag-out

Graham Marshall - Saturday, April 21, 2012

A failure to de-energize equipment being worked on, and then to use lock-out, tag-out (LOTO) to ensure the equipment cannot be accidentally or deliberately re-started is at the root of many serious accidents.

In this incident investigation, a marine engineer was working on an air-compressor unit which he failed to de-energize and LOTO. 

Whilst his hands were in the "danger-zone" around the compressure, the units fan auto-started, rotated at high speed and impacted his fingers.

The engineer was fortunate this time to not have his fingers or whole hand amputated.

While the incident investigation summary suggests a mental risk assessment is not a good tool, I'd suggest that a run-through the job using  the Think 6, Look 6 hazard management process would have identified the hazards (kinetic energy in the fan) and the triggers (failure to de-energize the unit, failure to apply LOTO to the unit, and potential of the unit to go into auto start-up).

A very simple analysis would have identified for the engineer the controls which were then required.

I'd suggest a risk assessment on paper is next to worthless, if you're not applying the systematic approach of Think 6, Look 6!




Amtrack Train Collision

Graham Marshall - Friday, April 20, 2012

It's not everyday that I'm involved in a train collision but while traveling between LA and San Francisco on the Amtrack Starlight Express, the train collided with a car at an uncontrolled intersection in Soledad.

Seeing first hand the results of the collision as the car was literally torn in half was a most sobering experience.

Thankfully, the train did not derail and it appeared that the driver of the car was airlifted to hospital.  I hope they survived!

The train was delayed by a couple of hours - but no big deal given the severity of injuries to the car driver.

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