The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

Switchloading Safety Alert

Graham Marshall - Thursday, August 30, 2012

If a flammable or combustible liquid is to be filled into a tank or vessel that previously contained a liquid with a lower flash point, the process is called "switch-loading", and it can be particularly hazardous if appropriate controls are not in place.

Switch-loading often occurs when a combustible liquid such as diesel is pumped into a tank that has previously contained petrol and static electricity is the main triggering risk-factor.

Whilst the tank may have been emptied of liquid petroleum, it is still likely to still contain flammable petrol vapours that could ignite.

In Australia, the relevant Standard for control of switch-loading is AS1940:200 ("The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids").

Under such circumstances, AS1940:2004 recommends a number of risk control measures to be in place.

The following are some of the control measures that should be considered to reduce the risks from static electricity:

•  All tanks, pipework, transfer systems (including decanting) and process plant associated with dangerous goods should be electrically bonded to each other and earthed, or otherwise protected (see AS/NZS1020 and AS4979 for advice):
•  Completely drain previously loaded liquid with the lower flashpoint;
• ‘Gas free’ the compartment where appropriate;
•  Reduce loading rates to less than one m/s until the fill pipe is submerged;
•  Use anti-static additives in non-conductive liquids; and
•  Ensure that the hose and hose assemblies are appropriate for use with petroleum products.

Enclosed here is a Safety Alert with further information on switch-loading.

Dangerous Distractions When Driving

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, August 29, 2012

There are many different distractions when driving.  The obvious ones are talking on the mobile, texting, fiddling with the radio or trying to read a map or GPS screen.

This safety alert from Origin Energy in Australia highlights the potential trigger associated with eating when attempting to control the kinetic energy associated with motor-vehicle use.

It contains some good information on road safety practices to be adopted.

Make Overseas Travel a Little Safer

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, August 28, 2012

If disaster strikes while you're traveling overseas, the Australian government is able to assist its citizens.

The lead agency for this assistance is the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade or DFAT for short.

DFAT has Embassies, High Commissions, Consulates and Consulates-general across the world who can assist Australians abroad and worried colleagues, families and friends back home.

Australian embassy or consular assistance can also be a big help if you're robbed, mugged, injured or ill abroad, or if there's some trouble with the local Police.

DFAT can also help your colleagues or family get in touch with you urgently if there's a problem in Australia while you're traveling.

At the Risk Tool Box, we encourage all Australian travelers to register with the DFAT website before travel.

The registration information assists DFAT to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family emergency.

To register your travel plans, google "Smartraveller", and register your details online.

Emergency Response Guidebook 2012

Graham Marshall - Monday, August 27, 2012

The 2012 Emergency Response Guidebook has been recently released for use by fire fighters, police, and other emergency services personnel who may be the first to arrive at the scene of a transportation incident involving dangerous goods.

Developed jointly by Transport Canada, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Secretariat of Transport and Communications of Mexico and with the collaboration of the Centro de Informaciòn Quìmica para Emergencias of Argentina, the guide assists first responders in quickly identifying the specific or generic hazards of the material(s) involved in the incident, and protecting themselves and the general public during the initial response phase of the incident.

This guidebook will assist responders in making initial decisions upon arriving at the scene of a dangerous goods incident.

The Guidebook is not a substitute for emergency response training, knowledge or sound judgment and it does not address all possible circumstances that may be associated with a dangerous goods incident.

It is primarily designed for use at a dangerous goods incident occurring on a highway or railroad.

It may also have some limited value in its application at fixed facility locations.

A copy of the 2012 Emergency Response Guidebook is available here (free).


Vale Flt Lt Donald Charlwood

Graham Marshall - Sunday, August 26, 2012

Flight Lieutenant Don Charlwood has died aged 96.

Flt Lt Charlwood is an Australian war hero who flew as a navigator in Lancaster bombers during WWII.

He wrote two classic accounts of the experiences of the young men serving with Bomber Command - No Moon Tonight and Journeys into Night. Together, these vivid and moving accounts are considered among the finest works on the experience of the air war over Germany.
Donald Ernest Cameron Charlwood was born on September 6th in 1915 near Melbourne.  He spent his childhood in Frankston, Victoria, attending the local high school.

Don Charlwood joined No 103 Squadron at Elsham Wolds in Lincolnshire in 1942.

The squadron was equipped with the Lancaster Bomber.

Over coming months, Flt Lt Charlwood and his crew attacked many major industrial cities, including Turin, Munich, Essen and Berlin.

Opposition from the Nazi's was intense, and on almost every occasion at least one crew from No 103 failed to return.

Flt Lt Charlwood was fortunate to have survived his tour of operations.

Of the 20 men who had qualified as navigators with him, only five survived the war.

At the end of his tour with No 103, Charlwood was commissioned and became an instructor at a bomber training unit.

In February 1944 he was repatriated to Australia, where he served for the rest of the war.

On his return to civilian life, Charlwood worked for 30 years as an air traffic controller, first at Melbourne airport, then as a selection and training officer.

In 1992 he was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia .

For many years Charlwood was an active advocate for a memorial to the 55,500 men who died in Bomber Command, and he asked a friend to represent him at the recent dedication by the Queen of the Bomber Command Memorial in London.

He died just 10 days before the ceremony.

Don Charlwood married Nell East, a Canadian schoolteacher, in 1944; she survives him with their son and three daughters.

Federal Review of Workplace Bullying

Graham Marshall - Saturday, August 25, 2012

Earlier this year, the Australian Federal Government announced a review of so-called "workplace bullying".

The review comes in response to figures released by the Australian Productivity Commission estimating that workplace bullying costs the Australian economy up to $35 billion each year.

The aim of the Review is to consider:

+    The nature, causes and extent of workplace bullying;

+    The prevention strategies for bullying in the workplace; and
+    Methods of support for individuals affected by bullying.

The Committee is due to report its findings in November 2012.

The terms of reference for the Review are broad and the Review is intended to complement the work being undertaken by Safe Work Australia and the State and Territory governments in relation to workplace bullying.

As a result of the Review, the Federal Government may look to introduce national laws for managing and preventing workplace bullying across Australia.

Until then, however, there are actions that employers can take that minimize the risk to business arising from workplace bullying. These steps include:

+    Identifying the risk factors for workplace bullying;

+    Developing appropriate policies and procedures that minimize and manage the risk factors;

+    Ensuring that policies and procedures are communicated to employees and regularly reviewed;

+    Taking complaints of workplace bullying seriously; and

+    Investigating complaints of workplace bullying in a timely manner.

It is important that when taking these steps employers provide procedural and substantive fairness to all, including those against whom a complaint of workplace bullying is made, as there are a number of potential pitfalls for employers.

The Risk Tool Box recommend that employers actively manage workplace bullying complaints in order to avoid those pitfalls.

TGIF - Darwin Award

Graham Marshall - Friday, August 24, 2012

This could be a real "Darwin Award"!.  A  23-year-old man from Darwin in the NT may be flown to Adelaide after a party trick involving setting off fire crackers between his buttocks went badly wrong.

The  "victim" was at a party in Rapid Creek when he decided to let the firework off, NT Police said.

'It appears a party was in full progress when a young male decided to place a firework between the cheeks of his bottom and light it,' said Senior Sergeant Garry Smith.

'What must of seemed to be a great idea at the time has backfired, resulting in the male receiving quite severe and very painful burns to his cheeks, back and private bits,' Smith said.

Alcohol was a possible factor involved in the stunt, police said. Really, who would have guessed?

Police said they believed he would be flown to a specialist burns unit at the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

The man's woes may not be over once his burns heal.

Police said anyone possessing fireworks outside of an approved period faces a $282 fine.

Fireworks in the NT are only legal for use on July 1st, known as Territory Day.

Ansell HyFlex Ultra-Lite Gloves

Graham Marshall - Thursday, August 23, 2012

The manufacturer of the new HyFlex® Ultra-Lite gloves say that they are ideal for a range of applications requiring a higher level of touch and precision, including applications that require workers to pick up and fit small pieces such as bearings and springs.
Offering a Level 3 rating for abrasion resistance and Level 1 for cuts, HyFlex 11-618 gloves are the world’s best selling precision assembly gloves.

Appropriate for dry and slightly oily environments, the gloves’ ultra-lightweight 18-gauge seamless liner enhances flexibility and handling efficiency.

The polyurethane coating covers only the palm and fingers, allowing greater breathability and comfort.
The HyFlex 11-618 gloves are .8 mm thick and 20 percent lighter than similar products.

Australian workplace deaths in first quarter 2012

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, August 22, 2012

There were 26 work-related notifiable fatalities reported across Australia during March 2012 - bringing the total workplace deaths to 58 for the first quarter of the year.

Twenty-three of the total deaths in March were men and three were women.

Of the 26 fatalities, 9 were categorized as a vehicle incidents on public roads and two more were due to vehicle incidents but occurring on private roads.

Five fatalities resulted from being struck by a falling object.

Four deaths were the result of a fall from a height.

Two deaths were recorded as being due to electrocution.

The remaining 4 fatalities involved the an explosion, being struck by a moving object (other than a vehicle), being struck by an animal, and one case of assault.

Eight fatalities occurred at Construction workplaces.

Six of the total occurred at transport or storage workplaces.

Four death occurred at agriculture, forestry or fishing workplaces.

Three deaths occurred at personal services workplaces.

One fatality each occurred at a property or business services location, one at a retailer, one at a wholesaler trade, and one in a place of education.

Detergent Suicide Risk to Passers-by

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Cases of "detergent suicide," "chemical suicide," or "hydrogen sulfide suicide" - in which a deadly mix of common household chemicals are deliberately mixed to produce a toxic gas are on the increase.

While such deaths are relatively rare in Western Nations, these methods of suicide are well known in Japan, where more than 500 cases were reported between January and July 2008.

According to the Western Journal of Emergency Medicine (2011), there were only two such suicide cases recorded in the USA during 2008.

That number rose to ten cases in 2009; and a further 18 suicides in 2010.

At the same time, however, researchers found there were 45 unintentional deaths from such chemical mixing in the USA from 1999 to 2007.

A significant problem with suicides or accidental deaths resulting from inadvertent mixing of chemicals is that they put rescue workers and others at risk when they are exposed to the toxic gases given off.

One recent example is that of Daniel Hoertling, 28, of Thornbury who was found in a tent in a wooded area  south of Cheyney University in Pennsylvania.

Hoertling left a suicide note that was automatically posted on a website. "If you are reading this, I am dead. I have taken my own life," it read.

He also described the mix of chemicals he used to create carbon monoxide gas to kill himself.

Thankfully, signs posted near his tent warned others to keep well away.

In many cases, common household chemicals are used to create hydrogen sulfide gas, which workers in the oil fields where the Risk Tool Box are engaged take great steps to control.

Hydrogen sulfide is a very toxic gas which prevents a person getting enough oxygen throughout their system.

Sense of smell is the first line of defense for those coming onto the scene, who may encounter a rotten egg odour.

The best advice is to leave the scene alone and call the emergency services.

Do not attempt to open any car door or enter into a built structure if you suspect that a person has killed themself using toxic gas.

Hazardous material crews dressed in protective clothing and using special breathing apparatus will then decontaminate the area and remove the body.

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