The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

FIFO Worker Survey

Graham Marshall - Sunday, December 16, 2012

Are you a FIFO worker in the Australian resources sector?

The Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining (CSRM) and the Minerals Safety and Health Centre (MISHC) at the University of Queensland are conducting a survey of FIFO (and other non-residential) resource industry workers.

The purpose of this study is to better understand how different accommodation options may impact on the health, wellbeing and job satisfaction of non-resident workers. So if you are a fly-in fly-out (FIFO), drive in drive out (DIDO) or bus in bus out (BIBO) worker, the CSRM would like to hear from you.

Please click on the following link and let us know your views.


Developing a Resiliant Safety Culture

Graham Marshall - Friday, October 19, 2012

Every workplace should strive to have a resilient and mature safety culture.

Consultation, communication and participation are critical to make the changes required to achieve this mature form of safety culture.

The picture above illustrates the typical characteristics of various safety culture types.

What type of culture does your workplace have?

Poor Safety Culture & Not Following Procedures Contributes to Pipeline Spill

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A visitor to the Risk Tool Box safety blog has emailed to me the information reported below.  It makes interesting reading for any safety professional and shows how an inadequate safety culture and a lack of procedures being followed can contribute to disasters. 


Pervasive organizational failures by a pipeline operator along with weak federal regulations led to a pipeline rupture and subsequent oil spill in 2010, the National Transportation Safety Board said today.

On Sunday, July 25, 2010, at about 5:58 p.m., a 30 inch-diameter pipeline (Line 6B) owned and operated by Enbridge Incorporated ruptured and spilled crude oil into an ecologically sensitive area near the Kalamazoo River in Marshall, Mich., for 17 hours.

A local utility worker discovered the oil and contacted Enbridge to report the rupture.

The NTSB found that the material failure of the pipeline was the result of multiple small corrosion-fatigue cracks that over time grew in size and linked together, creating a gaping breach in the pipe measuring over 80 inches long.

"This investigation identified a complete breakdown of safety at Enbridge. Their employees performed like Keystone Kops and failed to recognize their pipeline had ruptured and continued to pump crude into the environment," said NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman.

“Despite multiple alarms and a loss of pressure in the pipeline, for more than 17 hours and through three shifts they failed to follow their own shutdown procedures.”

Clean up costs are estimated by Enbridge and the EPA at $800 million and counting, making the Marshall rupture the single most expensive on-shore spill in US history.

Over 840,000 gallons of crude oil – enough to fill 120 tanker trucks – spilled into hundreds of acres of Michigan wetlands, fouling a creek and a river.

A Michigan Department of Community Health study concluded that over 300 individuals suffered adverse health effects related to benzene exposure, a toxic component of crude oil.
Line 6B had been scheduled for a routine shutdown at the time of the rupture to accommodate changing delivery schedules.

Following the shutdown, operators in the Enbridge control room in Edmonton, Alberta, received multiple alarms indicating a problem with low pressure in the pipeline, which were dismissed as being caused by factors other than a rupture.

"Inadequate training of control center personnel" was cited as contributing to the accident.

The investigation found that Enbridge failed to accurately assess the structural integrity of the pipeline, including correctly analyzing cracks that required repair.

The NTSB characterized Enbridge's control room operations, leak detection, and environmental response as deficient, and described the event as an "organizational accident."

Following the first alarm, Enbridge controllers restarted Line 6B twice, pumping an additional 683,000 gallons of crude oil, or 81 percent of the total amount spilled, through the ruptured pipeline.

The NTSB determined that if Enbridge's own procedures had been followed during the initial phases of the accident, the magnitude of the spill would have been significantly reduced.

Further, the NTSB attributed systemic flaws in operational decision-making to a "culture of deviance," which concluded that personnel had a developed an operating culture in which not adhering to approved procedures and protocols was normalized.

The NTSB also cited the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration's weak regulations regarding pipeline assessment and repair criteria as well as a cursory review of Enbridge's oil spill response plan as contributing to the magnitude of the accident.

The investigation revealed that the cracks in Line 6B that ultimately ruptured were detected by Enbridge in 2005 but were not repaired.

A further examination of records revealed that Enbridge's crack assessment process was inadequate, increasing the risk of a rupture.

"This accident is a wake-up call to the industry, the regulator, and the public.

Enbridge knew for years that this section of the pipeline was vulnerable yet they didn't act on that information," said Chairman Hersman.

"Likewise, for the regulator to delegate too much authority to the regulated to assess their own system risks and correct them is tantamount to the fox guarding the hen house.

Regulators need regulations and practices with teeth, and the resources to enable them to take corrective action before a spill. Not just after."

As a result of the investigation, the NTSB reiterated one recommendation to PHMSA and issued 17 new safety recommendations to the Department of the Transportation, PHMSA, Enbridge Incorporated, the American Petroleum Institute, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, and the National Emergency Number Association.



How to Transform a Poor Safety Culture

Graham Marshall - Thursday, September 08, 2011

Over the years I've worked with a lot of organizations with shit-house (Aussie term = "not very good") safety cultures but who have had a genuine desire to make real and lasting changes in order to reach a more mature form of safety culture.

It is my belief that any organization, regardless of its current level of safety culture maturity can make the changes necessary to reach "World's best practice" in safety performance - provided they follow a good plan.

I realize, however, that starting the EHS improvement journey can seem like an overwhelming decision with what seems like no possibility of success.

Here are my tips on what I've seen work with the organizations I've assisted over the previous 15 years.

Firstly, start really, really small.

Develop and stick to a planning template which ticks off micro- and short-term targets.  Targets need to be immediately achievable. 

Start as small as what will happen in the next task over the next ten minutes.  What do we aim to achieve in the next hour?  What is achievable over the course of this morning?  What is achievable over the whole day?

Setting and achieving realistic simple hour-by-hour and day-by-day goals is positively reinforcing.

Secondly, start with the "safety one-percenters".  You'll need to check my blog posts in January and February 2011 for more information about these.  In a nutshell, however, safety one-percenters are the low-hanging fruit of the safety world.  They're the easy to achieve targets that are almost impossible to stuff-up. 

Getting quick-wins becomes positively reinforcing.

Thirdly, once you get the easy to achieve and immediate daily targets being met over a sustained period, slowly build up to harder to achieve stretch targets and over a longer time-period. 

Establish safety targets for the whole week. 

Note that these targets can be both leading- as well as lagging-indicators.  A leading indicator would be a completed JSA for each defined higher-risk task over a whole week.  You might expect to receive 15-20 individual JSAs for review by Friday.  A lagging indicator might be a whole week worked with no recordables.  Either way, they're both good targets to aim for.

Fourthly, continue to build harder- and harder-objectives over longer- and longer-periods of time.

Within a few months you might begin to talk about monthly safety goals.  After a while it will build to annual goals. 

Before long you'll find you have five- and maybe even ten-year safety plans being discussed.

But start really small - overwise it'll all just seem overwhelming to most folks.

If you start small, you'll find the longer-term safety culture ambitions take care of themselves.

This slow process of "accumulation of good practices" will go almost unnoticed but one day, you'll wake up and realize you've built a World-beating mature safety culture.

I'm happy to talk more about improving safety culture performance so feel free to use the "contact us" page to get in touch with questions or suggestions.

I wish you good luck in your efforts.


Fire Fighter Safety

Graham Marshall - Thursday, July 21, 2011

Almost 100 Fire Fighters die each year in the USA.

An analysis of 189 of those Fire Fighter fatalities occurring in the USA between 2004-2009 has identified four major causes as being contributors to the tragedy.

These being:

1. Under resourcing;

2. Inadequate preparation for adverse events during operations;

3. Incomplete adoption of incident command procedures; and

4. Sub-optimal Fire Fighter readiness.

The number one cause of death were cardiovascular incidents leading researchers to recommend better medical screening and mandatory fitness assessments for Fire Fighters.

As in other higher-risk occupations, the research team found that a workplace safety culture that accepts risk and promotes completing the job as quickly as possible is partially to blame for the increase in Fire Fighter deaths.

The full article can be found in the Journal Accident Analysis and Prevention (2011,Vol 43, No. 3).


How Mature is your Safety Culture?

Graham Marshall - Thursday, June 30, 2011
When you're walking around your workplace, you can do a quick measure of your safety culture by thinking about the following HSE characteristics you see.  Which ones most closely mirror your culture?

Characteristic of an immature safety culture                                                    Characteristic of a mature safety culture
People do not know or follow HSE rules                                                                       Everyone is following the HSE rules
People don't intervene even if they see a problem                                                      Everyone will intervene in problems
There is no follow up on reported HSE problems                                                       HSE problems get followed up
There is no recognition for good practices                                                                   Good practices are celebrated
There are no consequences for breaches of rules                                                    There are clear & certain consequences
Management don't do what they say                                                                              Management do what they say
There are few safety role-models                                                                                   There are lots of positive role-models
There are no safety conversations                                                                                 Safety is talked about a lot
Safety isn't mentioned in team meetings                                                                      Safety is in every meeting agenda
Management is invisible to the workers                                                                        Managers are visible and well known
Safety has no visible presence on site                                                                         Safety is highly visible
No one knows the organizations HSE objectives                                                       HSE objectives are known

What kind of culture exists in your work place? 

What tools are you using to get better?       

At the Risk Tool Box, over the years we've assisted organizations like Shell Development Australia, Eni, Ngarda Civil and Mining, Teekay Shipping, WMC Resources, Sandvik and Woodside to better understand their existing HSE culture and to develop HSE plans to move to more mature forms of HSE culture.

Contact me if you'd like to know more about our services in this area.             


More Safety Events in 2011

Graham Marshall - Thursday, May 26, 2011
Today I'm listing some more upcoming HSE events you might like to put in your diary.

                 What                                       When                               Where                           Details

The Safety Show                                             25th - 27th October 2011               Sydney, NSW                            Click here
Intl Fire Fighting & engineering Conf          1st - 3rd June 2011                         Melbourne, Vic                         Click here
6th Annual Total Safety Conference           26th - 27th July 2011                       Sydney, NSW                            Click here 
Australasian Road Safety Conference      6th - 9th November 2011                Perth, WA                                   Click here
APPEA  Annual Conference                         13th - 16th May 2012                       Adelaide (SA)                            Click here

Safety Culture Measurement

Graham Marshall - Thursday, May 19, 2011

Over the last couple of decades, “cultural” attributes have increasingly been linked with corporate success. 

The post-war success of Japanese corporations was frequently offered as testimony for the impact of appropriate corporate cultures. 

In the Western World, establishing the attributes associated with corporate success has assumed something of “a search for the Holy Grail”.

Little wonder then, that the interest in “corporate culture” has also gripped the imagination of safety professionals. 

The idea that certain cultural characteristics are explanatory of safety success is highly attractive.


But what characteristics define safety culture and how can it be described and evaluated?

Today I'm posting a paper I prepared and presented for the Safety in Action Conference back in the early 2000s. 

It may still be of interest to some folks.

To read the paper, simply click here.

SDA Safety Culture Survey

Graham Marshall - Friday, May 06, 2011
I'm pleased to announce that the Risk Tool Box has been chosen by Shell to implement, analyse and report on a HSE Culture survey of its business unit in Australia prior to Shell's Global Annual Safety Day on 8th June 2011.

The survey will begin on Monday 9th May and be completed by the 13th June.

WMC Resources Safety Culture Survey

Graham Marshall - Saturday, April 09, 2011
Today's testimonial comes from WMC Resources - from before being swallowed up by BHP Billiton - a great company all the same!

Alongside the other testimonials I've posted this week, I hope it gives you the confidence that you're buying the best available safety and health tools from a reputable Australian HSE business.

As always, feel free to look round the risk management shop, to buy some products or to get in touch about any safety issues that are puzzling you.

The fifth testimonial letter from WMC can be accessed by clicking here.

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