The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

Respiratory Protection

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, August 09, 2011

According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), more than 28,000 workers died as a result of pneumoconiosis between 1999 and 2004.

So, how do you know if a respiratory safety program is required at your workplace?

The first step in determining the required respiratory protection measures in any work place is to perform a hazard identification assessment.

What type of hazardous substance may be present and in what form?

Is the potential hazard a vapour, smoke, mist, spray droplet, dust, metallic fume, or gas?

The general identification of the hazardous substances present in the workplace and their forms may not be too difficult.

Determining the toxicity and measuring employee exposure to the hazards may, however, require specialist expertise and equipment.

In the US, OSHAs Respiratory Protection Standard (29 CFR 1910.134) provides mandated requirements for respiratory protection programs and the Air Contaminants Standard (CFR 1910.1000) lists legally binding exposure limits for toxic chemicals.

In general terms, once a hazardous substance is identified with the potential to cause respiratory problems, the hierarchy of safety controls provides the best guide to a preferred course of action.

The starting point should always be via attempts to eliminate the potential for atmospheric contamination.  This may involve the elimination of the hazard source or by eliminating the activity which results in air pollution.

The next most preferential method of control is via substitution controls. 

This could include substitution of one hazardous substance for something inherently less toxic or through substitution of a work process that causes air quality problems.

Engineering controls to prevent air contamination may include such controls as the introduction of natural or forced ventilation, air filtration or air extraction methods and air oxidation using catalytic converters.

Administrative controls may include personnel monitoring, frequent health checks and such like.

Assuming that all alternative methods of controls have been considered, implemented or ruled-out as impracticable, then personal protective equipment may be considered.

Further information on NIOSHs respiratory selection guidance is available by clicking here.

Involving Workers in Safety Programs

Graham Marshall - Sunday, July 31, 2011

In Australia, employer-employee consultation on safety matters is emphasized in the legislative codes.

In WA, the Occupational Safety and Health Act (1984) and the Mines Safety and Inspection Act (1994) place a formal obligation on employers to consult employees and safety and health representatives, where they exist, on safety and health at the workplace.

To complement this consultation process, employees also have a duty to cooperate with their employer on safety and health matters.

In country's where no such legal demands for consultation exist, health and safety consultation still makes a lot of sense.

Here are some less formal ways in which any employer can foster a more mature safety culture with high levels of employee participation in the company safety management program:

  • Invite employees to participate in safety incident investigations;
  • Conduct brainstorming sessions on solving identified HSE problems;
  • Introduce hazard spotting and JSA tools to the workplace and encourage participation with these tools;
  • Establish a safety suggestions program (this could be anonymous through the use of a suggestions box);
  • Encourage employees to participate in workplace inspections;
  • Introduce a formal hazard observation program.  Click here for more information;
  • Hold regular tool-box talks; and
  • Encourage workers to trial various types of PPE before selecting a chosen brand.


To review the WA Guidance Note on Workplace Consultation, click here.

Personal Protective Equipment Standards in the USA

Graham Marshall - Sunday, July 24, 2011
Whenever it is impractical to reduce a hazards potential to cause harm to the ALARP level using elimination, substitution, engineering or administrative control measures, employers must ensure that appropriate PPE is provided and used by the workforce.

The United States OSHA requirements for PPE are established in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).

In the USA, the following American National Standards Institute (ANSI) PPE standards apply to all oil-field work:

  • ANSI Z89.1 or ANSI Z89.2 for industrial head protection and head protection of electrical workers respectively;
  • ANSI Z87.1 for eye and face protection;
  • ANSI Z41.1 for safety footwear;
  • ANSI Z88.2-1992 for respiratory protection;
  • ANSI Z359.1 for personal fall arrest systems (PFAS);
  • ANSI Z358.1 for emergency eyewash and shower equipment;
  • ANSI Z117.1-1995 - for safety requirements in confined spaces;
  • There is no ANSI standard established for hand protection (gloves); and
  • Fire Retardant Clothing (FRC) must meet the performance requirements set out in NFPA 70E (2009) in occupations covered by the OSHA fine rule 1910.269.

OSHA's information booklet on PPE requirements in the USA is available by clicking here.

What Does Safety Cost?

Graham Marshall - Thursday, July 14, 2011

In my experience, I always find that a good safety culture with a TRCF approaching zero for long periods and process hazards demonstrably under control comes from two things. 

The first ingredient in success is simple hard work. 

"Doing" safety well requires constant hard work over a long period.  There simply are no quick fixes.

Secondly, safety needs a budget. A good safety program with a systematic risk management process in place costs.

So what does safety cost?

There is the human cost for those people who will lose their lives, and the cost to families and friends.

There are the costs to the environment. As a minimum, their is the cost of clean ups.

Then there are the legal costs. Damage litigation and fines can impose significant costs.

Next come the costs to your organizational and personal reputation. Newspaper headlines about you and your business.  Scrutinizing by the regulators and widespread community "outrage".

What about the cost of repairing or replacing your productive assets?

Have you considered the costs of disruption to future business activities and growth opportunities?

Finally there is the cost of employee morale in a tail-spin.

I hope the message here is clear. 

Safety costs.

But it costs a lot less that the alternative costs outlined above.

Barriers to Effective Safety Training

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Aberdeen Business School at Robert Gordon University (Aberdeen, Scotland) has completed an examination of emergency response and basic safety training requirements in the international oil and gas industry.

The research has demonstrated that significant barriers remain to safety training improvements.  These barriers include:

  • A lack of effective safety leadership within many organizations;
  • Getting employees to take intrinsic responsibility for their own safety; and
  • The need for better competency standards.


Other barriers to effective safety training improvement initiatives included entrenched negative culture and behaviours, location-specific issues, protectionism, history and 'not invented here' syndrome.

All sounds pretty familiar to us at the Risk Tool Box as we've seen all of the above factors at  play in some places we're worked.

But with a bit of effort and hard work, they can certainly be overcome.

Emergency Response Planning

Graham Marshall - Thursday, June 09, 2011

Homes, schools, hotels, office workplaces and operational facilities all need good emergency response plans to deal with the potentiality for fires, floods, spills, criminal events and such like.

In the USA, OSHA 1910.38 mandates such a plan for many locations.

The emergency response plan of any home, school or business should be easily understood by non-HSE professionals and easy to activate in a real emergency.

The highest priority in any emergency response plan is to know what to do, how to do it, and when.

Below is some general guidance on seven main points to any emergency response plan.

One - Evacuation

Stakeholders at the premises, including employees, contractors, visitors and others need to know when do situations become severe enough to warrant evacuation?

Two - How do you evacuate?

There will be chaos and possibly injuries and fatalities if people at your location don't know how to evacuate your premises.

There will be no time to give individual instructions during an emergency, so emergency response drills are critically important in preparing to manage the response.

As a minimum, everyone present at your location - including temporary visitors should know the location of emergency exits, safe exit routes and the location of designated mustering points.

Three - Who does what?

For larger organizations with team structures in place, each department should establish its own emergency response team.

Team members should be assigned specific responsibilities and trained to respond to the emergency.

Training is paramount. Practice drills are the best way to ensure that members are able to take up their roles in an emergency without a moment's hesitation.

Team drills also help everybody feel like an important part of the emergency response team and evacuation plan.

Four - Response

What should workers do if they notice an emergency?

Guidelines cannot be issued at the time of crisis. You must have a plan formulated ahead of time and transmitted to everyone.

And training must take place. Otherwise you never know how workers will react.

Five - Using Response Equipment

Designated personnel need to know how to use emergency equipment. 

This includes fire fighting equipment, rescue, PA equipment, First Aid equipment, emergency shut-down equipment, refuges, life rafts, and such like.

Six - Managing Injuries or Illness

Respond to injuries or sudden illness. Is someone trained to respond to emergency situations as they arise?

If so, do workers know who this person is and how to contact him/her?

Seven - Review

Your emergency response plan will need to be changed following changes to the location, changes in hazards present or changes in work processes and personnel.

For those reasons, make sure to review your plan for its "fitness for purpose".

I recommend at least an annual review of your emergency response plan.

Safety in Excavations

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, June 07, 2011

About 5,000 serious injuries and 100 fatalities occur in the USA each year from poorly planned and implemented excavation work.

Appropriate hazard and risk management planning using the Think 6, Look 6 process is the key to ensuring the safety of workers during excavation work.

The dangers are ever-present in the civil and construction industries so here are some guidelines to consider before and during excavation work.

Consider the engineering controls that are likely to be required.

Use the risk assessment process to assess the potential for cave-ins prior to the start of work.

Consider the need for shoring, sloping, or other means to eliminate the risk.

The risk assessment must be undertaken by a competent person or team.

Consideration should be applied to soil analysis, the available and practical protective systems, and the legislative needs imposed by laws and applicable standards.

Once excavation work begins, the following precautions should be established:

  • Ensure that appropriate supervision is in place when civil works start.
  • Excavated material must be placed sufficiently far away from the excavation to prevent collapse or cave in.
  • Concurrent activities of vibrating equipment and traffic movement need to be controlled to prevent foreseeable problems.
  • Safe access to and from excavations must be provided.
  • Access points should be provided every 25 feet along the trench in any excavation deeper than four feet.
  • Materials used for shoring, and for the angles of slopes should meet or exceed applicable standards.
  • If you aren't certain that the shoring, benching, or sloping is adequate, stay out of the excavation.


Do not enter any unprotected excavation.

Without good early planning and appropriate supervision, sub-standard site works can and do kill.

To review a Job Safety Analysis for excavation work, simply click here.

Hazard Management Competency

Graham Marshall - Saturday, May 14, 2011
A little more here on an earlier  version of the hazard awareness program I've previously developed.

This presentation was featured at the 22nd Annual Conference of the Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists.

My newer hazards management program is more advanced and sophisticated so if interested in new developments, feel free to contact me via or check the phone number in the "contacts" section of the website.

Click here it open the PowerPoint slideshow.

Onshore Drilling Safety Program

Graham Marshall - Monday, May 02, 2011
The Risk Tool Box has been chosen to assist with in-field HSE promotion in drilling operations in the Bakken Field in North Dakota, USA. 

Staring in June, we'll be on site through to mid-September 2011.

This is a fantastic and exciting opportunity to work again with the highly professional folks over in ND. 

I can't wait to get started!

Stand Together For Safety

Graham Marshall - Monday, May 02, 2011
Today (Monday 2nd May) marks the kick off of the "Stand Together for Safety" event for 2011.

To find out more about "Stand Together for Safety" and how to get involved, click here.

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