The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

Safety Critical Equipment on Excavators

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Doors, locks, side windows, and windscreens on the cabs of excavator equipment can all be relatively easily damaged as a result of working within a harsh and demanding environment.

Sometimes on older equipment, or on equipment used by organizations with immature safety cultures, there may be a tendency to delay repairs and maintenance of broken glass.

But the door mechanism and the windows on dozers should be considered as safety critical equipment; and any breakage of this type of equipment should result in removal from service and immediate repair of the damage.

This safety alert from APPEA highlights how the windscreen on an excavator being used by Chevron probably saved the operators life when the cab was hit by a high-velocity projectile.

Water Truck Roll-over

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) requires its membership to report high-potential incidents as part of the safety performance reporting process.

High-potential incidents (HiPOs) are defined by APPEA as any "accident, event, or happening of a serious nature that: results in a Major Accident Event (MAE) performance standard not being met; results in a loss of containment; or could cause a fatality or multiple fatalities".

APPEA distributes HIPO Alerts for the Australian oil and gas industry to highlight learnings from HIPO incidents.

The HIPO Alert found here, highlights an incident in which a water-carting truck rolled-over when going around a corner too quickly. 

The alert offers some important "lessons learned" for future consideration.

What happens to oil spilled into the sea?

Graham Marshall - Monday, May 14, 2012

Have you ever wondered what happens to crude oil when it gets spilled into the ocean?

Well obviously if you've got enough sea-birds, furry seals or sea-otters available, it's fairly easy to mop all that oil up!  In case you're an idiot - that last comment was a joke!  So calm down and chill-out!

Anyway, moving on, if you're interested in knowing more about the weathering processes which spilled oil in the ocean is exposed too - including evaporation, surface spreading, dissolution, emulsification, biodegradation, oxidation, and dispersion, this Technical Information Paper (TIP) on the fate of oil spills from the folks at the ITOPF is an excellent source of information.

To read the TIP, simply click this link.

Hard Hat High Tea

Graham Marshall - Sunday, May 13, 2012

Belinda Stuckenberg - Head of Health and Safety for BHP Billiton Iron Ore is one of three guest speakers who will present at a women in the mining industry networking forum next month.

Other guest speakers at the women's networking forum are Kelly Howlett, Major of Port Hedland; and Natasha Cann, Winner of the 2012 Women in Resources Chamber of Mineral and Energy award for
Outstanding Technician.

The networking forum is taking place on 1st June at Port Hedland Civic Centre in the WA Pilbara region.  Numbers are strictly limited to 40 people and the cost is just $22 including GST.

For further information and to register, call +61 8 9382 1312.

Registration closes on 21st May so be quick!


Driver fatigue in heavy haulage vehicles

Graham Marshall - Saturday, May 12, 2012

An Australian road safety study recently published by the Journal of Sleep found that 41 pr cent of Australia's truck drivers suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA).

The study found that road safety is seriously impacted, increasing the drivers’ risk of crashing by up to seven-fold.

The research team surveyed 517 commercial truck drivers in NSW and Western Australian over 20 months.

Of the 517 drivers surveyed, only 12 per cent reported feeling tiredness using the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS), the only self diagnosing questionnaire currently used for assessing sleep patterns during drivers' medical tests.

But the research went on to indicate that 16 per cent of the drivers surveyed were categorized as having severe cases of OSA.

The researchers concluded that the questionnaires alone were not sufficient to assess drivers’ crash risk during medical examinations.

Professor Mark Stevenson, the director of Melbourne’s Monash University Accident Research Centre, said the current licensing requirements would not identify those with sleep disorders.

We know there is an elevated risk of crashing in drivers with untreated OSA, therefore it is important that truck drivers – behind the wheels of the largest vehicles on the road network, at times with combustible freight – should be tested with a diagnostic tool that does not rely on self reporting”.

Industry body - the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) fully reported the study’s conclusions.

ATA Communications manager Bill McKinley said the association in 2009 recommended diagnostic testing for truck drivers to the National Transport Commission (NTC) which develops licensing guidelines.

He said, however, the recommendation from the ATA was ignored in the most recent guidelines, in place since March 1st 2012.

The Risk Management Toolbox fully agrees that there should be a diagnostic tool for sleep apnoea included in the medical standards for truck drivers.

Facts on Fracking

Graham Marshall - Friday, May 11, 2012

At the Risk Tool Box, we make no apologies for our belief in the benefits to be found by society from the development of unconventional sources of hydrocarbons.

When it comes to coal seam gas, shale gas and unconventional oil, these benefits have come about because of two newly developed and wonderful technologies - these being - directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing.

Enclosed here is a fact sheet that addresses the science lying behind unconventional natural gas production, with a particular focus on the responsible development of natural gas from dense shale formations thousands of feet below the earth’s surface.

The exploitation of unconventional gas and oil gives us efficient access to vast new supplies of cleaner energy, resulting in more jobs, less dependence on foreign oil and a cleaner, smarter energy future for Australia

Having worked first-hand in the unconventional business for the last 5-6 years, we'll all in favour of directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing.


Aerial Observation of Marine Oil Spills

Graham Marshall - Thursday, May 10, 2012

Aerial observation is an important element of the effective response to marine oil spills. 

Aerial observation helps to establish the extent, location and predicted direction of motion of oil slicks at sea.

Aerial observation provides information which is used to plan the deployment of control mechanisms at sea, prepare containment measures along near-by coastlines and to prepare resources for shore-based clean up campaigns.

This Technical Information Paper from the ITOPF provides important information and guidance on aerial observation of oil spills in the marine environment.



International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, May 09, 2012

The International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation (ITOPF) series of Technical Information Papers (TIPs) has been updated and expanded to reflect technological advances and ITOPF's more recent collective experience on a wide range of marine pollution topics. 

Each TIP covers a specific subject in a concise manner, illustrated with photographs and diagrams

Starting tomorrow, and over coming days I will post links to 17 of the TIPs.

So make sure to return to the Risk Tool Box blog tomorrow where you will find a TIP on techniques for aerial observation of oil spills in the marine environment.



Australian Workplace Safety Codes of Practice

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Interested Australians are encouraged to have their say on five new OHS model Codes of Practice that were recently released for public comment.

The OHS Codes released for public comment are:

 Safe Design, Manufacture, Import and Supply of Plant;

 Working in the Vicinity of Overhead and Underground Electrical Lines;

 Traffic Management in Workplaces;

 Scaffolding Work; and

 Formwork and Falsework.

Businesses, industries, workers and the wider community are encouraged to take this opportunity to contribute to work health and safety issues that directly affect their workplaces and their working lives.

This is the third set of Codes of Practice developed to support the WHS Act and Regulations.

They are part of a suite of documents being developed by Safe Work Australia, the Commonwealth, states and territory governments as part of harmonised work health and safety laws across Australia.

Harmonised laws aim to achieve the best possible approach to safety for all Australian workplaces.

The public comment period for these Codes of Practice will close on 22 June 2012.

CSB Announces Findings into DuPont Fatal Accident

Graham Marshall - Monday, May 07, 2012

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has determined that an explosion at a DuPont facility in the USA that killed one contract welder and injured his Foreman in 2010, was caused by the ignition of flammable vinyl fluoride inside a large process tank, a hazard which had been overlooked.

The accident occurred at the DuPont chemical plant in Tonawanda. 

The facility produces polymers and surface materials for countertops.

The process for making the polymers involves transferring polyvinyl fluoride (PVF) slurry from a reactor through a flash tank and then into three storage tanks.  The tanks were also inter-connected by an overflow line. 

Days before the incident the process had been shut down for tank maintenance.
The tank fill lines were correctly locked out for safety.

Tanks 2 and 3 were repaired and the process restarted, but work on tank 1 was delayed due to a lack of parts.

Although tank 1 remained locked out from the main process, the overflow line remained open which connected tank 1 to tanks 2 and 3.

The CSB found DuPont erroneously had determined that any vinyl fluoride vapor that might enter the tanks would remain below flammable limits.

The CSB determined that flammable vinyl fluoride flowed through the overflow line into tank 1 and accumulated to explosive concentrations.

Although DuPont personnel monitored the atmosphere above the tank prior to authorizing hot work to restart once parts became available, no monitoring was done inside the tank to see if any flammable vapor existed there.

The CSB investigation found the hot work ignited the vapor as a result of the increased temperature of the metal tank, sparks falling into the tank, or vapor wafting from the tank into the hot work area.

The explosion blew most of the top off the tank.

The welder died instantly from blunt force trauma, and the foreman received first-degree burns and minor injuries.

CSB Team Lead Johnnie Banks said, “Our investigation found that DuPont’s process hazard analysis incorrectly assumed that vinyl fluoride in the process could not reach flammable levels in the slurry tanks.  And, critically, DuPont personnel did not properly isolate and lock out tank 1 from tanks 2 and 3 prior to authorizing the hot work.  The flammable vapor was able to pass through the overflow line into the tank the welder was working on, unknown to him or to the operators who signed off the hot work permit.”

Noting the CSB issued a safety bulletin on the dangers of hot work in March 2010, CSB Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso said, “I find it tragic that we continue to see lives lost from hot work accidents, which occur all too frequently despite long-known procedures that can prevent them.  Facility managers have an obligation to assure the absence of a flammable atmosphere in areas where hot work is to take place. Explosion hazards can be eliminated by testing inside tanks as well as in the areas around them.”

This is the 2nd fatal accident involving DuPont locations in the USA recorded in 2010.


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