The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

Identifying Unusual Hazards

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Today the blog is covering hazards that are in some way unusual. 

The idea for this post came to mind recently when I became aware of three accidents in different parts of the World which have stemmed from the release of a hazard in an unusual form.

The first incident occurred in Japan on March 20th and involved a driver waiting in a traffic line at a petrol service station.  With a long traffic-jam and bitterly cold weather, it appears that the driver was using a portable kerosene heater to keep warm inside his vehicle.  He died from exposure to carbon monoxide – a hazardous substance.

The second incident occurred in Poland on March 24th and involved a 10-year old boy and his 9-year old sister.  Both were killed while playing with an unexploded bomb which they found in a field near the village of Konskowola in eastern Poland.  The UXO was thought to have been dropped in a WWII battle between Russian and German forces.  The boy was killed at the scene of the accident and his sister died from wounds a short time later.

The third incident occurred on 17th March at Fort Bragg in the USA.  In this incident, 10 military personnel were injured when an artillery round exploded inside the barrel of a 155 mm howitzer during live-fire training.  All were struck by flying shrapnel.

The three tragic incidents described above highlight the requirement for constant hazard awareness – especially for kinetic hazards and hazardous substances in the environment around us. 

Hazard Spotting using Stepback, 5 X 5, JSA or JHA is critical to prevent such unwanted events.

We have a variety of useful tools for identifying hazards and raising hazard awareness across a variety of jobs.  Please feel free to brouse our online store.

Report of a Serious Safety Incident

Jay Stansell - Friday, March 25, 2011

This week I am writing about an extremely serious breach of acceptable safety performance which could easily have resulted in the deaths of two engineering ground crew working on a Aircraft which I was about to travel on.

Incident Description

I observed two ground crew on separate occasions climb from the edge-protected barriers of an Elevating Work Platform (EWP) onto the top of the starboard engine of the aircraft, ‘shimmy’ along the upper surface of the engine and then attempt to remove a small panel secured by approximately 10-20 tapping screws.

At no time whilst working outside the edge-protection of the EWP, was either worker secured to any fixed anchor point by any form of fall arresting personal protective equipment (PPE) or other fall restraining devices.  Furthermore, none of the tools – including a low voltage drill, ball hammer, and screw driver - used by the two workers was secured by any form of lanyard or other restraining mechanism. 

The potential for a fall of personnel or dropping tools was high.

On raising my concerns with the Aircraft Cabin Crew I was politely informed that everything was OK because the staff is “experienced and know what they were doing”. 

Below I am including several photographs which I took during the course of this incident over a 15-20 minute period.

 

Worker Number 1.  The first attempt to reach the panel with the worker in the danger zone.

Worker Number 2 observes from the safety zone of the EWP.

 

Worker number 1 is now safely back in the EWP.  Worker Number 2 now makes a second attempt to remove the panel in the danger zone.  Note the unused orange fall arrest device (PPE) on the floor of the EWP.

 

Worker number 2 in extreme danger if he were to fall to the ground from this height.

 

Worker number 2 now wearing the harness but not attached to any anchor point.  This picture was taken after I had insisted my concerns be relayed to the Captain of the Aircraft.


 


 


 


 

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!

Spot the Hazards

Graham Marshall - Saturday, March 12, 2011
Nice music and some classic and very funny staged "hazard" pictures here.

Worth a look.  Click the link - here.

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.

What is a “Confined Space”?

Graham Marshall - Monday, February 28, 2011

The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines, in its general industry rule, a confined space as having three attributes:

  1. Large enough to enter and perform work;
  2.  Limited access and egress; and
  3. Not designed for continuous occupancy.

Australian Standard (AS2865-2001) defines a confined space as:

“An enclosed or partially enclosed space that is at atmospheric pressure during occupancy and is not intended or designed primarily as a place of work; and

a)                 Is liable at any time to:

i. Have an atmosphere which contains potentially harmful levels of contaminant;

ii. Have an oxygen deficiency or excess; or

iii. Cause engulfment; and

b)           Could have restricted means for entry and exit.

The United Kingdom Health and Safety Executive (UK HSE) says:

It can be any space of an enclosed nature where there is a risk of death or serious injury from hazardous substances or dangerous conditions (e.g., lack of oxygen)”.

Obvious confined spaces include:

»           Tanks;

»           Stacks;

»           Tunnels; and

»           Trenches.

Some less obvious confined spaces include:

»           Rooms which are inadequately ventilated;

»           Shrouded columns or vessels which render them ‘air tight’;

»           The roof of floating roof tanks; and

»           Rooms and areas that become confined spaces by virtue of the activities being undertaken.

In all cases, confined spaces are particularly dangerous because they may frequently:

»           Contain or have the potential to contain an hazardous atmosphere;

»           Contain a material that has the potential for engulfing the work party;

»           Have an internal configuration that might cause an entrant to be trapped; or

»           Contain other recognized serious safety or health hazards.

Because confined space work can be so dangerous, there are a number of safety-critical controls that need to be applied to all confined space entry activities.  The safety-critical controls are highlighted below:

  1. Identify the hazards using the Think 6, Look 6 process;
  1. Once hazards are identified, search for ways of eliminating or isolating them;
  1.  In addition, always consider eliminating the confined space entry activity;
  1. If there are no alternatives to confined space entry, always test for presence of gas;
  1. Remember to continuously gas monitor atmospheric conditions;
  1. Always ensure that confined space entry  is controlled by an authorized “Permit to Work”;
  1. Ensure workers performing confined space entry work are suitable trained;
  1. Ensure that a stand-by person acts as a sentry;
  1. Provide adequate Supervision, especially where contractors are involved; and
  1. Prevent unauthorized entry.

For a useful toolbox presentation on the management of confined space entry work, click the link to our “process safety tools”.

Identifying Other Radiation Sources

Jay Stansell - Friday, February 25, 2011

Carrying on the theme from last week where we talked about thermal radiation hazards, this week we move on to address other radiation sources that can be a problem in workplaces.

Non-ionizing Radiation

Non-ionizing radiation involves electromagnetic radiation that does not carry enough energy to ionize atoms or molecules - that is - to completely remove an electron from an atom or molecule.  Examples of non-ionizing radiation include:

»            Near ultraviolet visible light (e.g., radiation found in sunlight);

»            Infra-red radiation;

»            Long Frequency Radio waves;

»            Ultrasound; and

»            Microwaves.

Ionizing Radiation

Ionizing radiation refers to any type of electromagnetic radiation that carries enough energy to ionize atoms or molecules - that is - to completely remove an electron from an atom or molecule. 

In humans, exposure to this type of very powerful radiation can cause cellular and molecular changes such as mutations, chromosome aberrations, and cell-killing.  At high doses, it is well-established that ionizing radiation is capable of increasing the cancer rate in exposed populations; at low levels of exposure, it is not possible to detect changes in cancer frequency.

Common use of ionizing radiation within workplaces includes: Non Destructive Testing (NDT) using X-ray and Gamma-ray isotopes and medical X-rays.

Maintaining Situational Awareness Around Mobile Plant

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, February 22, 2011
I was recently sent this picture by one of my customers who thought I might like to use it in my Think 6, Look 6 Hazard and Risk Management Training Program.

I've certainly made good use of it to highlight the hazards when working around forklifts, and I thought you might like to use it yourself. 

Perhaps you could use the picture in a toolbox talk to lead a discussion about hazards, triggers, incidents, consequences and controls for work around any mobile plant in your workplace. 

Hope you like it and have a safe day!




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