The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

AS 5488-2013 Classification of Subsurface Utility Information

Graham Marshall - Thursday, June 20, 2013
Standards Australia has announced the launch of a new Australian Standard which will – for the first time – outline a consistent approach towards the classification of information relating to subsurface utilities. 

At present the existence and location of subsurface utilities can be difficult to establish and verify, which is the problem this standard seeks to address. 

AS 5488-2013 Classification of Subsurface Utility Information is intended to improve public safety, reduce costly property damage, and provide more accurate information on the location and type of subsurface utilities than in the past. 

Australian utility owners, operators and locators should welcome the Australian Standard which sets a new benchmark for subsurface utility information management. 

The new Standard provides a framework for the consistent classification of information concerning subsurface utilities. 

The standard also provides guidance on how subsurface utility information may be obtained, and how that information should be conveyed to users.

Tips to Prevent Lower-back Injury

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Following the common cold, lower back pain resulting from poor manual handling technique is the most common cause of lost work time.  In the USA alone, back pain results in $126 billion in compensation pay-outs and medical expenses each year.

Tips to prevent back injury at work or at home include:

+  Practice good posture and try to stay physically-fit;

+   Use mechanical lifting aides whenever possible;

+   Before manually lifting an object, apply "Think 6, Look 6" and size-up the task;

+   If an object is too big or too heavy to handle on your own, ask someone to help;

+   When lifting, stand close to the object, bend your knees and keep your back straight as possible;

+   Try to lift objects using he muscles in your legs and arms working together;

+   Hold objects close to your body when carrying them;

+   Never twist your body from the waist when handling a load;

+   If you need to turn, do so my moving your feet; and

+   Be careful when setting a load down.

Hierarchy of Control for Work at Height

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Working at height is one of the biggest causes of fatalities and major injuries.

Falls from ladders and through fragile roofs are all too common.  

Work at height means work in any place, including at or below ground level, where a person could fall a distance liable to cause injury.

But employers and individuals can take simple, practical measures to reduce the risk of falling while working at height.

Employers must make sure that all work at height is properly planned, supervised and carried out by people who are competent.

This means workers need the skill, knowledge, and experience to work up high.

This must include the use of the right type of equipment for work at height.

To prevent or minimize risk when planning for work at height, consider what needs to be done and take a sensible, risk-based approach to identify suitable precautions.

At the Risk Tool Box, we promotes the use of the hierarchy of control to minimize the risk of a falling.

The hierarchy should be followed systematically and only when one level is not reasonably practicable should the next level be considered.

If at all possible, start out by avoiding work at height so as to eliminate the hazard.

If possible, work from the ground or partly from the ground.


If work at height cannot be avoided, use appropriately engineered equipment to minimize the risk of a fall occurring; the distance a person could fall; or the consequences of a fall if one occurs.

 Engineered controls include scaffolds, edge-protection, nets, soft landing systems, reach-poles, systems to lower objects (e.g. lights) to the ground, and measures that protect the individual.

Always make sure the surface/access equipment in use is stable and strong enough to support the worker’s weight and that of any equipment.

Also think about procedures and other "administrative" controls.

Can workers get safely to and from where they want to work at height?

Have you thought about emergency evacuation and rescue procedures?

Is the equipment used for work at height well maintained and inspected regularly?

And remember...

Don’t overload ladders;

Don't overreach on ladders or stepladders;

Don't use ladders or stepladders if the nature of the work is deemed to be ‘heavy’ or if the task will take longer than thirty minutes or so to complete;

Don't use ladders if workers cannot maintain three points of contact at the working position; and

Don't let anyone who is not competent (someone who doesn’t have the skills, knowledge and experience to do the job) carry out work at height.

And lastly, consider the requirement for personal protective equipment.

WA Mining Fatalities in 2012

Graham Marshall - Thursday, March 07, 2013

The Mining Sector in WA was fatality-free in 2012 - the first time this has been achieved since Mining accident statistics began to be recorded in 1896.

The fatal injury frequency rate has also been reduced by 81 per cent over the past decade.

These are significant positive results and it is particularly pleasing when you consider the industry employs close to 100,000 workers.

WA employs 63 Mines Inspectors who perform around 2,400 site visits per year.


Over the past three financial years, the department has temporarily halted operations of 418 sites over safety concerns.

And we're happy to have played some small part in this cultural change.  It's now more than 15-years since I was first engaged by WMC Resources (now part of BHP Billiton) during the days of the elimination of fatalities task force in WMC.

Peter Plavina and Chris Bradshaw at WMC were early pioneers and an inspiration to me!

Confined Space Entry Standard

Graham Marshall - Thursday, December 27, 2012

The importance of organizations having a good Confined Space Entry Standard for employee use within confined spaces cannot be understated.

Confined spaces are either partially or completely enclosed working environments.

They are only meant for short-term worker occupancy.

And entering confined spaces is always "high-risk" because of many factors like space-design, previous storage history, and atmosphere.

When implementing an appropriate Confined Space Standard of control, the risk to workers who perform in confined spaces and the hazards and dangers they face can be substantially reduced to the ALARP level.

Employers can keep workers safe by reducing accidents and also save money when they present their workers with a planned and safe working environment.

The picture below gives four key characteristics of confined spaces and then goes on to provide clear explanation and illustration for safety.

• Lack of oxygen results in 50% of confined space worker fatalities.

• Four important steps when working in a confined space.

• One quarter of confined spaces have toxic air environments.

• A loss in just 5% oxygen in the air causes impaired judgement as well as problems breathing.

Employers who develop proper Confined Space Entry Standards and provide training and education to workers can reduce fatalities and accidents.

Identifying and controlling the hazards, and understanding what to do in an emergency are critical.

There is no reason why anyone needs to lose their life working in a confined space.


Control Pinch-point Risk

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Pinch-point incidents are common across workshops, in the field, and in office environments. 

So workers should always take care, even if an environment seems safe and hazard-free.

Typical examples of pinch-point incidents include situations where people trap their fingers in door-jams, in desk draws, in car doors, or inside equipment.

Pinch-points are produced when either two moving parts come together (e.g., when rotating gear cogs turn) or when a single moving part comes in close proximity to something solid (e.g., when a moving door slams against a door frame).

In either case, it is the kinetic energy involved with the movement potential of the object in motion that causes harm when a person gets a body part in the way!  Ouch.

Pinch-points most usually impact onto fingers or hands, but any part of the body can be impacted.

This can be particularly dangerous wherever the space between the moving parts is just sufficient to allow a larger body part to be present when the moving parts come together.

The injury resulting from contact with kinetic energy in a pinch-point can be as minor as a small cut to as severe as having your head pulled off! 

So take care around all pinch points.

The common causes of pinch-point incidents include:

●  Putting a body part in the "line of fire" of the energy source;

●  Not paying attention to hand or finger placement;

●  Wearing loose clothing, long hair or jewelry which can be caught in rotating equipment;

●  Failure to use a machine's guard mechanism;

●  Poor hand placement when lifting or moving materials during manual handling;

●  Improper use of a tool; and

●  Failing to de-energize and isolate a machine before performing some kind of inspection or maintenance task.

Because of the risk associated with pinch-points, make sure you use the following controls to stay safe:

●  Always use the Think 6, Look 6 hazard management process to identify and control pinch points in every task;

●  Use handles when opening drawers;

●  Keep fingers out of "line of fire";

●  Verify that guards are in place and used on equipment that requires guarding;

●  For some jobs, ensure you're wearing gloves (of the correct type);

●  Identify pinch-point risks and the correct controls for these on your JSA;

●  Apply lock-out, tag-out procedure for energy isolation before working on the internals of any machine; and

●  Never remove equipment safety devices.

Prevent on the job eye injury

Graham Marshall - Thursday, November 01, 2012

There are about 2.4 million eye injuries to people in the USA each year.  35 per cent result from a foreign body entering the eye.  25 per cent result from impacts.  And 15 per cent result from burn injuries to the eye.

About 10 per cent of eye injuries will result in permanent loss of vision to the affected eye.  That's over 240,000 serious eye injuries each year in the USA alone.

Virtually all of the harm caused by incidents to the eyes can be prevented or reduced if workers are using the Think 6, Look 6 process and the correct eye protection.

So what can you do?

Firstly, always use the Risk Tool Box' Think 6, Look 6 hazard management process to identify and evaluate the hazards you face which could lead to eye damage.

●  Identify the hazards and triggers in the task to be performed;

●  If necessary, develop a JSA with appropriate controls for the hazards and triggers; and

●  Attempt to eliminate the hazard wherever possible.

Secondly, aim to create a safe working environment:

●  Make sure you're trained to do the job;

●  Use only the proper tools and following the correct procedure for tool use;

●  Keep non-essential people well away from the work zone; and

●  Inspect your tools and other associated equipment before each use.

Thirdly, wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE):

●  Wear safety glasses to ANSI Z87.1 standard;

●  Use additional full face shielding for jobs which are more prone to create flying debris or spray of substances;

●  Use welding hoods with properly shaded lenses when undertaking or assisting with hot work; and

●  Inspect and clean your eye-wear PPE before each use.

Skidsteer Crushing Accidents

Graham Marshall - Saturday, August 04, 2012

There have been two recent incidents in Western Australia involving pedal controlled skid steer equipment where the operator’s leg was crushed in a pinch point, resulting in serious fractures.

In both cases, the circumstances of the incidents were identical.

In both incidents, the operator had stretched his right leg over the entrance step in front to relieve cramping.

The resulting shift in weight had transferred pressure to the left foot, activating the boom control pedal and causing the boom to descend.

The operator’s right leg had been crushed between the entrance step and a cross member on the boom.


In both incidents, the operator was experienced in this style of equipment.

The operator was wearing a seat belt, the safety lock-out bar was lowered and the boom was partially raised.

The operator’s cabin had meshed sides but no door at the front.

Signage inside the skid steer unit indicated the pinch point.

The equipment was new and all safety devices were found to be functioning correctly when tested following the incident.

Principle Triggering Mechanisms

• The confined cabin space can restrict operator movement, leading to leg cramps.

• There is no physical barrier to prevent the extension of a limb into the area of the pinch point.

• Foot pedal controls can be inadvertently activated by a shift in the operator’s weight.


Under regulation 4.4(3) of the Mines Safety and Inspection Regulations 1995, employers are required to “ensure that any moving machinery that creates a risk of injury to an employee through inadvertent contact is screened or guarded to prevent such contact.”

For skid steer equipment with confined cabin space and a pinch point hazard, this may be achieved by:

• Installing a cabin door (e.g. meshed or fully enclosed tempered glass with a stone guard) that is interlocked to the operation of the machine;

• Ensuring doors, if provided by the supplier, are not removed when the unit is placed into service; and

• Supervisors encouraging operators to take regular breaks and stretch.



Entry into Enclosed Spaces - Scotland Seminar

Graham Marshall - Thursday, July 05, 2012

It is always sad to hear of incidents when someone needlessly dies working within a confined space.

In most cases, the lack of oxygen is often accompanied by lack of training, lack of procedures or a lack of safety-critical equipment.

It is a sad fact that we still have to look into reasons for these omissions in this day and age.

In response, the Nautical Institute (North of Scotland branch) and the UK Mines Rescue (Marine) are showcasing the training procedures required and also the training for personnel who may have to rescue a colleague from an enclosed space.

This worthwhile event is being held at the Aberdeen Beach Ballroom (Aberdeen, Scotland) on 20th September 2012.

Who should attend?

+   Ship Superintendents;

+   Crew Members;

+   Port Managers;

+   Offshore Managers;

+   Safety Managers;

+   Ship Surveyors;

+   HSE Personnel; and

+   Government Inspectors.

For more information, click this link to open the brochure.

CSE SR 100 Self-contained Self-rescuer Phase-out

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Users of the CSE SR-100 self-contained self-rescuer (SCSR) are on notice by NIOSH in the USA of a schedule for phasing out use of the device in mining and non-mining applications.

This action follows the April 16, 2012, publication of the NIOSH Technical Report, Loss of Start-Up Oxygen in CSE SR-100 Self-Contained Self-Rescuers.

Continued use as a respirator in non-mining applications is contingent upon phase-out of the CSE SR-100s and replacement of these respirators by a different NIOSH-approved respirator as described in

Continued use of these devices in underground mines is contingent upon implementation of the phase-out schedule for the devices described in MSHA Program Information Bulletin (PIB) No. 12–09.

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