The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

Inflight Medical Emergency

Graham Marshall - Friday, May 31, 2013

The chance of being on a flight which is disrupted by a medical emergency are just over 1 chance in 600.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, medical emergencies occur on 1 in every 604 flights in the USA.

That works out at about 44,000 medical emergencies each year in the USA alone.  .

Only about 0.3 per cent of medical emergencies result in a fatality however.

And in 75 per cent of emergencies, a trained health professional on board came forward to help once the call for assistance was made by the Pilot.


So your odds of surviving a on-board medical emergency seem pretty good. 

Across the World, there are nearly 95,000 commercial flights made each day and on average, about 157 of these flights are affected by a medical emergency.

UK Local Authorities Banned from Stupid HSE Inspections

Graham Marshall - Thursday, May 30, 2013

In great news for small and medium size enterprises in the UK, local authorities are being banned from unnecessary health and safety inspections under a new code coming into effect this week (May 2013).

The UK Health and Safety Executive’s (UK HSE) statutory National Enforcement Code for local authorities will instead target proactive council inspections on higher risk activities in specified sectors or when there is intelligence of workplaces putting employees or the public at risk.

It will see tens of thousands of businesses removed from health and safety inspections which are not justified on a risk basis, including most shops and offices.

Checks will continue on poor performers and at sites where there are higher risk activities.

At the Risk Management Tool Box, we agree with the UK HSE that we need laws that protect people where there is a real risk.

But legislation shouldn't be allowed to stifle businesses operating with low risk profiles.

There are just too many examples of local authorities imposing unnecessary burdens by inspecting low risk businesses. 

This new code should put a stop to this by putting common sense back into the system.

HSE Chair Judith Hackitt said:

Real improvement in safety performance will come from targeting those who put their employees at greatest risk.

Local inspectors have a very important role to play in ensuring the effective and proportionate management of risks by businesses, and the code is designed to guide them to do this.

It sets out how targeting should be achieved, providing certainty for both businesses and regulators. 

The UK HSE will be working with local authorities to ensure the code is successfully implemented.

The new code has been backed by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). 

It is important to ensure that all local authority health and safety inspections are consistently risk based and proportionate to ensure that low-risk, compliant businesses are able to concentrate on growth.

If low risk businesses believe they are being unreasonably targeted they will be able to complain to an independent panel, which will investigate and issue a public judgement.

HSE will work with those local authorities whose targeting of inspections fails to meet the standards set out.

Take Care With Ship Gangways

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Kinetic Energy in Crane Wire Rope

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The safety alert (below) produced by the Marine Safety Forum highlights how the stored kinetic energy hazard within wire-rope used in slings and rigging should be understood before working on changing out such types of wire-rope.

The alert also highlights the need for: 1) Document Procedure for the task; 2)  JSA to be completed highlighting the kinetic energy hazard; and 3) No one to stand in "line of fire" when removing spooled wire-rope.

NOPSEMA Annual Report

Graham Marshall - Monday, May 27, 2013
NOPSEMA's Annual Offshore Performance Report identifies two significant areas of increased safety risk which must be addressed if safety is to improve in the offshore energy sector in Australia:

1.  Inadequate design specification; and 

2.  Procedures not being followed.

2012 proved a costly year in terms of lives lost with two drillers being killed on the Stena Clyde.

But there were also some improvements in performance, specifically:

The rate of accidents reached the lowest level recorded since 2005; and

The rate of uncontrolled hydrocarbon releases reached a seven year low, reflecting a 41% drop in the number of unplanned petroleum liquid and gas releases in 2012.

Benzene in Home Garages Poses Risk to Health

Graham Marshall - Sunday, May 26, 2013
If you have a garage attached to your house, you could be at higher risk of developing leukemia or other forms of cancer. 

That's because benzene and other fumes from car exhaust could be entering your house.

Benzene is a volatile organic compound, or VOC, that’s found naturally in crude oil and thus in gasoline and vehicle exhaust.

There are already low levels of benzene in the air all around us due to air pollution from motor vehicle exhaust. 

Researcher's from Health Canada’s indoor air section has conducted studies measuring levels of the gas in homes across Canada. 

Benzene levels in houses with attached garages were found to be around three times higher than of other houses without garages.

And even after a car is turned off, the engine will continue to emit benzene into the air as it sits in the garage. 

Paints and solvents that many homeowners store in their garage may also emit benzene as they slowly evaporate. 

Health Canada, the World Health Organization, and the European Commission recommend that people reduce their exposure to benzene as much as possible. 

Studies have shown that benzene can definitely cause problems if people are exposed to high levels over long periods of time.

Workers in industrial settings exposed to high levels of benzene have been shown to have a much higher risk of leukemia.

Benzene is dangerous because of the damage it can do to the blood. 

It causes bone marrow not to produce enough red blood cells, while also damaging the immune system by not creating enough white blood cells.

Homeowner are advised to never idle a vehicle inside a garage, but to let it warm up outside. 

Other recommendations for minimizing the transfer of garage air to the home include:

   Make sure the weather stripping around the door to the garage is continuous and in good shape;

   Have spray foam insulation installed to seal the wall between the house and garage. Then drywall can be installed over top to further reduce air leakage;

   A similar approach can be taken to seal the ceiling space between the garage and any rooms above. This will also help reduce energy costs and keep the floors warmer; and

   Another approach involves installing an exhaust fan to vent garage air to the outside. The fan would also help depressurize the garage relative to the house, thereby preventing air movement from the garage to the house, even if leaks exist.

What is Health Surveillance

Graham Marshall - Saturday, May 25, 2013
Health surveillance involves a program of early identification of ill health in potentially affected workers and helps identify any corrective action needed. 

There may be a requirement in law for employers to undertake health surveillance  if employees are exposed to hazards such as:

+   Noise or vibration;

+   Chemical solvents;

+   Metallic fumes;

+   Dust or fibrous materials;

+   Bio-hazards; 

+   Other substances hazardous to health; or 

+   Work is undertaken in compressed air. 

The UK Health and Safety Executive (UK HSE) has published new online guidance and guidelines on health surveillance needed where, even after all precautions are taken, there is still a risk that workers may be exposed to chemicals or other hazardous substances.

Check the new guidelines on the UK HSE website.

Pressurized air hose couplings

Graham Marshall - Friday, May 24, 2013

Pressurized air hose couplings which are incorrectly assembled without either a safety pin to secure the fitting or without extending the hose restraint pose a significant risk of a high velocity kinetic energy release. 

Air hose coupling failures have caused a number of serious incidents resulting in injury and fatalities.

Incorrect assembly of air hoses presents a risk not only to the person operating the equipment, but to others in the vicinity.

Equipment operators and supervisors of work activities should review their practices for the use of pneumatic tools, hoses and couplings.

It is important that members of the workforce who use this type of equipment, and those responsible for their supervision, have had the relevant training before work starts.

A JSA for use with pneumatic tools is available for purchase here.

Danger of Heating Sealed Tanks

Graham Marshall - Thursday, May 23, 2013
The dangers of applying heat ("hot work") to sealed hydraulic cylinders is highlighted in the safety alert from Work Safe in Western Australia.
The safety alert was published following the fatality of a worker who died when using an oxy-torch to cut a cylinder.
The tank exploded.

Corporate Manslaughter Trial Ends in Jail Time

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, May 22, 2013

In the United Kingdom, in order to be found guilty of Gross Negligence Manslaughter, the defendant has to owe a duty of care to the deceased; be in breach of this duty; the breach has to have caused the death of the deceased; and the defendant’s negligence was gross (i.e. showed such a disregard for the life and safety of others as to amount to a crime and deserve punishment).

In May 2013, Allan Turnbull of Tow Law, County Durham, has been prosecuted and found guilty of Gross Negligence Manslaughter following a trial into the death of Ken Joyce of Lanchester, County Durham.

Mr Joyce was working for Allan Turnbull, trading as A&H Site Line Boring and Machining, where he was working at height dismantling the structural steelwork of the roof of the Burning Hall at the Swan Hunter Shipyard in Wallsend, Newcastle.

The trial at Newcastle Crown Court heard how Mr Joyce was working from one cherry picker while two colleagues were working from another cherry picker and a crane.  They were dismantling the structure and were using a crane to lower the steel beams to the ground.

While removing a beam brace connecting two plate girders, one of the plate girders struck the basket of the cherry picker in which Mr Joyce was standing, knocking the equipment over.

Mr Joyce fell to the ground below and was pronounced dead soon after.

The police and UK HSE investigation found that Allan Turnbull had failed to adequately plan the work after identifying a lack of suitable and sufficient lifting plans to ensure a safe system of work was in place for the dismantling of the structural steelwork.

Allan Turnbull had earlier pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) by virtue of Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974).

He was sentenced to three years in prison.

Ken Joyce lost his life as a result of collective failures which included not preparing in advance a detailed plan of how the work should be carried out and no lifting plans to ensure the safe removal of the beams.

Other people with responsibility for safety can learn from this and ensure they take the necessary action to deal with the high risk involved with work of this nature.

In a statement, Mr Joyce’s family said:

"As his family, we are striving to honour Kenneth’s memory and are still coming to terms with the void his absence has left in our lives over the past four years.

"Above all else we have hoped for justice for him and for the intensity of the sadness and grief created by his untimely passing, to ease and lessen with the aid of this justice, along with the healing passage of time."

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