The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

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.

JSA Training Program Results

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, February 06, 2013

We've recently completed a JSA training program with 100 workers in an oil field belonging to a new customer.

Our new customer required that we collect feedback from their employees and contractors to allow them to evaluate the success of our JSA training program, prior to a wider roll-out of the program in the field.

Enclosed here is a JSA feedback report which shows how the workers thought about the JSA training program and the comments that they made on their feedback forms.

The name and location of the customer has been removed, but otherwise all results and comments are as they were collected.

We'll let you decide if this group of 100-field workers thought our JSA training program is any good!

 

Identifying Psychological Hazards

Jay Stansell - Sunday, May 15, 2011

This blog is the last in my series of features about the various types of hazards. This week I turn to psychological sources of hazard.

The psychosocial hazard has recently been acknowledged in legislation as a workplace hazard.  This type of hazard relates to mental health and behavioural disorders.

For the purpose of inclusion into the energy hazard model psychosocial hazards refers to the energy produced by human thinking and behaviour.  The hazard involves human motivation and the direction of human behaviour.

This hazard is all about what makes people do the things they do, even when some of those “things” may be harmful to the self, or to other people.

Forms of harmful psychosocial hazard include:

»            Deliberate and intentional behaviour (e.g., suicide actions);

»            Wilful negligence;

»            Criminal intentions (e.g., intention to steal); and

»            Terrorist intentions (e.g., intention to murder).

Psychosocial hazards in the workplace contribute to work related stress and lead to range of unwanted incidents which include:

»            Bullying;

»            Harassment;

»            Occupational violence;

»            Customer aggression; and

»            Exposure to alcohol and drug misuse.

Identifying Biological Hazards

Jay Stansell - Saturday, April 23, 2011

Carrying on my series of blogs about the various types of hazards, this week I turn to biological sources of hazard.

Bio-hazards are defined as living things that have the capacity to cause unwanted harm.  It is “life” itself that provides the energy to living things.  Life is energy within the energy model of hazards. 

Bio-hazards can include micro-organisms such as bacteria or viruses (e.g., HIV, hepatitis, measles, mumps, and gastric viruses) that can result in severe harm. 

In a similar manner to hazardous substances, pathogenic micro-organisms can enter the human body by:

»            Inhalation (e.g., through breathing in air-borne virus particles such as the common cold);

»            Ingestion (e.g., through eating contaminated foodstuffs);

»            Absorption through open wounds; and

»            Injection (e.g., through contaminated surgical equipment).

Bio-hazards can also include larger forms of wild-life such as insects, birds, and animals (e.g., sharks, snakes, jellyfish and cane toads).  Bio-hazards can also include toxic or stinging plants (e.g., nettles or poison ivy) and poisonous fungi.

Whenever people are working with sewerage, medical waste and food sources, or with natural or organic materials like soil, clay, plant materials or substances of animal origin (fur, blood and other body fluids or excrement), they may be exposed to harmful biological agents.

Common incidents involving bio-hazards include:

»            Exposure to the bio-hazard (e.g., exposure to flu virus);

»            Animal attack (e.g., snake bite);

»            Contact with (e.g., touching a stinging plant); and

»            Bites and stings (e.g., bee sting).

Incidents involving bio-hazards can result in painful consequences to people and escalate from mild symptoms all the way to death.  The consequences can be severe!

Identifying Natural Hazards

Jay Stansell - Friday, April 01, 2011

Natural disasters have been in the news a lot already this year.  What with floods and cyclones in Queensland, earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan, and big bushfires in Western Australia, it seems we’re never far from some natural disaster. 

In thinking about natural disasters, it is also important that we recognize the natural hazards that contribute to them.

Natural hazards are those hazards that are created through the natural processes occurring on Planet Earth. 

They are the natural forms of energy that have the potential to cause harm to us individually or as a society.  They are often extremely powerful sources of energy, often very unpredictable, and often very hard to manage. 

Examples of natural energy hazards include:

»            Ambient temperature (related to radiation energy from sunlight or heat from the ground and arctic conditions);

»            Volcano including heat, high noise levels, flying debris and hazardous substances (e.g., toxic gases); »            Earthquake, rock-falls, mud-slides, land-slips, and avalanche;

»            Lightning strike (naturally-occurring electricity);

»            Flowing water energy including storm-surge, tidal wave, Tsunami, sea-rips, and river overflow;

»            Wind energy such as cyclones or tornado’s;

»            Meteor strike; and

»            Naturally-occurring fires.

Natural hazards and the incidents they create have the capacity to cause massive amounts of damage and devastation.  Recent examples include:

»            Hurricane Katrina destroys the Louisiana Gulf Coast and Floods New Orleans (USA, 2005);

»            Boxing day, 2004 – Tsunami destroys large parts of SE Asia and Ceylon and kills in excess of 100,000 people.

»            Haiti Earthquake, 2010 – over 200,000 lives lost when magnitude 7 quake hits Port-Au-Prince.

The Dangers of Reactive Chemical Hazards

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, March 23, 2011

An Australian metal foundry has been fined $90,000 after it was found guilty of charges relating to an explosion that severely burned one worker and left another with severe trauma.

The workers were employed at Graham Campbell Ferrum (GCF) in West Footscray, Victoria.  On the day of the accident, they were decanting hazardous chemicals from one container into another container they believed contained the same chemical.
 
In reality, the two chemicals were an incompatible resin and catalyst which, when mixed could result in an explosive reaction.

It was like a bomb going off, said one of the workers, that's how I'd describe it.  The worker suffered burns to more than three-quarters of his body.  He was hospitalised for three months and spent one month in rehabilitation. 
Although the company claimed the employees should have read the chemical labels, a WorkSafe investigation found the company failed to properly manage chemicals handling and storage, while training for employees was inadequate. 

The court found that the workers had never been properly trained in the chemicals' use and dangers.  For those reasons, the company was found guilty of failing to provide a safe workplace or adequate training in hazardous substances handling. 

Victorian WorkSafe Authority counsel Nicholas Papas said the workplace law was "risk-driven" and the company should have eliminated or managed risk associated with chemical handling.

For useful tools for managing risk across a variety of jobs involving hazardous chemicals, click the links to our “personal safety tools, “operational safety tools”, “process safety tools” and “behavioural safety tools”.
http://www.maribyrnongweekly.com.au/news/local/news/general/foundry-explosion-90000-fine/2077642.aspx

Identifying Electrical Hazards

Jay Stansell - Friday, March 18, 2011

Electricity is something we use every day.  It has no shape, weight, or smell.  It can’t even be seen yet electricity is often all around us.

And we all know that contact with electricity can cause serious injuries or death.  There are two forms of electricity:

1.          Static Electricity – electrical charge that does not move.

2.          Current Electricity – electrical charge that does move.

Static Electricity

Whilst static electricity is a hazard in its own right, the main concern associated with static electricity is the creation of sparks in an explosive or flammable atmosphere. 

The combination of sparking and an explosive atmosphere at the Lower Explosive Level (LEL) can set off an explosion or fire.  The risk is increased when flammable gas or liquids are present or being poured or transferred.

For static electricity to cause an explosion four factors are necessary:

1.          A means for static charge to develop;

2.          Enough energy to cause a spark;

3.          A discharge of energy; and

4.          A flammable atmosphere above the LEL.

Current Electricity

Current electricity is a hazard.  There are a several types of potential incidents associated with current electricity:

»            Shock – when persons make contact with overhead or below-ground power supplies or live electrical components, exposed wires due to mechanical damage of insulation, water egress or damp conditions;

»            Ignition - of dusts, vapour, gas, or combustible materials;

»            Overheating - of circuits and electrical appliances;

»            Explosion - of electrical equipment; and

»            Unplanned Activation - of equipment.

Lightning Strike

A form of naturally-occurring static-electrical discharge that can be extremely dangerous!

Japanese Natural Hazard Disaster

Graham Marshall - Monday, March 14, 2011

Friday’s earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan demonstrate once again the awesome and terrifying potential of natural hazards to cause harm.  The subsequent loss of control of the reactors at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant simply adds further tragedy to the unfolding disaster.  With upwards of 18,000 lives lost and growing fear of radiation pollution, the longer-term costs to Japanese society are likely to be huge.

Natural hazards are due to the natural processes occurring on Planet Earth.  Tectonic activity is just one example.  As the recent earthquake and tsunami demonstrate, natural forms of energy have the potential to cause harm to us individually or as a society.  They are often extremely powerful sources of energy, often very unpredictable, and often very hard to manage. 

That does not mean, however, that planning for the release of natural hazards cannot be undertaken.  As with all safety management, the key to control is early use of the Think 6, Look 6TM hazard and risk management process. 

Start by identifying the hazards that surround us (e.g., natural hazards). 

Then assess the risk associated with the hazards. 

To assess risk, consider the incidents that can occur if the natural hazards are released.  

These may include extreme weather events, volcano, earthquake, rock-falls, mud-slides, land-slips, avalanche, light
ning strike, storm-surge, tidal wave, tsunami, sea-rips, and river overflow, meteor strike, and naturally-occurring fires

Then think about the most credible consequences should the identified incidents occur. Consider the level and type of harm to people, destruction or loss of property, scale of financial impacts, legal impacts and impacts occurring to the natural environment.

Lastly, prepare for disaster.  Since natural disasters are often unpredictable, the controls will tend to focus on the escalation side of the safety “bow-tie” (i.e., post-incident) and include mainly emergency response controls.  They will also occur at different levels of sophistication and include:

»           State-level response (e.g., implementation and enforcement of building codes);

»           City and town-level response (e.g., protective civil works such as river levee banks or sea walls);

»           Neighbourhood or community response (e.g., local volunteer fire brigades);

»           Business response (e.g., target hardening and risk assessment in preparation for emergencies); and

»           Individual and family response (e.g., removing flammable materials in areas prone to bush fire, etc.,).

For risk management purposes, it is very difficult to control the “likelihood” side of risk (the so called “acts of god” events), but we can do much to mitigate the “consequences” side of the risk equation.  Implement the best controls you can.  As usual, good planning using Think 6, Look 6TM is the key to this.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/8393056/Japan-earthquake-calm-after-the-storm.html

Identifying Biomechanical Hazards

Jay Stansell - Friday, March 11, 2011

This week we talk about biomechanical hazards.

Biomechanical energy refers to human motion and the forces produced by a person’s muscles and skeleton.  It is literally “human muscle-power”.  It also covers muscular-skeletal forces that act on the body which are commonly termed body stressing or ergonomic hazards.

Forms of biomechanical energy are involved when:

»        Manual handling - lifting, shifting, pushing, pulling;

»        Exercising - running, jumping, riding and climbing; and

»        Positioning – sitting, standing and reaching.

The incorrect use of a person’ internal biomechanical energy is the leading source of medical treatment and lost-time injuries within the Western World.  Incorrect manual handling techniques cause a variety of injuries including:

»            Muscle strains and sprains;

»            Injuries to muscles, ligaments, inter-vertebral discs and other spinal structures;

»            Injuries to soft tissue such as nerves, ligaments, tendons;

»            Abdominal hernias; and

»            Chronic pain.

Identifying Noise

Jay Stansell - Friday, March 04, 2011

Carrying on the theme from the last two weeks where we talked about radiation sources of hazards, this week we move on to address noise as a radiation source.

Noise may be one of the most common hazards in workplaces.

We don’t usually consider noise to be a “radiation source”. 

It can, however, be classified as such because it is emitted into the environment in the form of a sound “wave” and radiation is always emitted in the form of a “wave” pattern of energy (e.g., visible light wave). 

Of course, the sound-waves could also be classified as a pressure-wave, and as such, noise could equally be classed as a “kinetic” type hazard. 

It may make no big difference how we classify noise, so long as we understand that it can have the potential to cause harm!

Noise harms people because it destroys the delicate nerve cells in the inner ear that transmit sound messages to the brain.  The nerve cells are replaced by scar tissue that does not then respond to sound.  That is – we go deaf!

At lower levels of noise exposure the damage occurs very slowly, is painless but permanent and there is no cure.  The upper acceptable exposure level for noise in Australia is classified as being 80 decibels (dB) per hour for an 8-hour working day. 

Exposure to noise levels above 80 dB for periods greater than 8 hours will be doing permanent and irreversible harm.


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