The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

Would you walk into a pool of gasolene?

Graham Marshall - Friday, June 29, 2012

How would you react if you observed a large pool of petrol escaping from a Petrol Tanker Truck?

The footage below shows an example of several people putting themselves in harms way by walking into a pool of gasolene pouring from a tanker.  A cyclist even rides through the middle of the spill.

The video was used by the UK Health and Safety Executive (UK HSE) in a recent successful prosecution of a fuel terminal operator.

The footage shows - in stark form - how people can react when called upon to manage a known serious hazard event.  In this case - amazingly badly!

To view the footage, simple click here.  You'll be amazed!

Dangers on Rail Tracks

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Did you know that every three hours a person or vehicle is hit by a train in the USA alone.

In response, Operation Lifesaver is a US nonprofit rail safety education group which has recently redesigned its website to further its mission of preventing deaths and injuries near train tracks.

The site uses videos, photos and stories to get across the safety message about the dangers associated with train lines.

To visit the site, click here

Gangway safety

Graham Marshall - Sunday, April 24, 2011
Last week I blogged about the relative danger of 'walking' as an activity occuring in homes and workplaces.  You may recall that I mentioned that nearly 4,000 United States citizens die each year as a result of falls on steps and stairs.

Well, today I'm posting an incident investigation which shows a recent example of the potential for harm when the risk associated with steps and stairs are not managed appropriately.

This 'fall from height' incident occured when a ship worker attempted to jump one-metre to the ground from an ill-placed ships gangway. 

See the three pictures and review the incident investigation checklist below.

This picture shows the general position of the gangway.

Here you can see that the gangway ends about 1 metre short of the wharf.

In attempting to jump from the gangway, the injured person's foot became entangled in lines and netting causing him to fall face forward onto the wharf below.

To review the completed incident investigation checklist, simply click here.

To view the Australian Code of Practice on falls, click here.

Situational Awareness

Graham Marshall - Saturday, April 16, 2011
On Thursday, I blogged about Situational Awareness (SA). 

I defined SA in the earlier post and today I'm going to describe the different levels of SA that we experience.

This is an important topic because your level of SA can have major implications for the way you manage the hazards in your work place.

Levels of Situational Awareness

People typically operate on five distinct levels of awareness.

Level One SA

The lowest level of awareness can be classified as being unaware or unconscious.  In a nutshell, there is no SA going on.  Just watch your teenager's for a couple of minutes and you'll get the idea!

The unconscious level is where your brain ceases to process information and you simply cannot react to the reality of the situation.

For all practical purposes, you're unconscious when you're asleep or in a drunken or drugged state in which you are unable to respond appropriately to dangerous situations (e.g., if your house is on fire). 

At the other end of the scale, you may also be in a unconscious state if you are "frozen" due to a panic reaction.

There are other paralysis-inducing hazards which make it impossible to maintain or act on situational awareness.
A bite from a blue-ring octopus or cone-shell sting can induce this level of unconscious paralysis.

Level Two SA
The second level of SA is being tuned out.

Tuning-out may occur when you drive a car along a familiar route.  Have you ever experienced the feeling of arriving somewhere but then realized you can't really remember how you got there?  That's being tuned out. 

It can occur when you're distracted by intrusive thoughts; when daydreaming; or when you're focussed intently on a very narrow range of internal (body) or external stimuli which are largely unrelated to the hazards in the environment around you.

For example, tuning-out  occurs when you're deeply engrossed in reading a book on the beach and fail to notice  when the tide comes in.

Talking on your mobile phone or texting may also lead car drivers to tune-out when moving along the road. 

In that case, your narrow focus becomes the digital phone screen rather than the wider World outside the windshield.

Level Three SA

The third level of SA is relaxed attentiveness.

This is a state in which you are relaxed but you are also paying attention to the environment and scanning for hazards and triggers. 

This level of SA is where you're using Think 6, Look 6 as your mental paradigm and thought process.  It's the "sweet-spot" of SA and where you should aim to be whenever you're actively managing hazards.  

Driving a vehicle on the road using "defensive driving skills" would be a example of relaxed attentiveness.

It involves "reading the road"; looking well ahead; anticipating the actions and reactions of other road users; and maintaining focus in the presence of distractions (e.g., ignoring the mobile phone if it rings).

Level Four SA
The fourth level of SA is commonly called focused attention.  Like "relaxed-attention", this level of consciousness also involves the use of the Think 6, Look 6 hazard management process.

This level of SA occurs when you focus your whole attention on a perceived hazard in the environment around you. 

For example, people with a spider phobia will tend to focus their attention on a spider if they spot one.  

You demonstrate focused awareness when you are driving a car in difficult conditions and you're focusing on the dangerous aspects in the environment. 

It might be a focus on an icy  road surface; or roads with potholes; or an erratic driver you notice up ahead of you.

In these circumstances, the level of attention required makes SA extremely stressful and very tiring.

Dangerous situations requiring prolonged focused attention will rapidly exhaust your mental capacity.

A problem with focused attending can also occur if your range of focus becomes so narrow that you begin to miss other important information about alternative hazards and triggers in the environment.

An example of the above occurs in aircraft cockpits when pilots begin to focus all of their attention onto a faulty gauge and then fail to fly the aircraft!  In that case, the range of external stimuli (the flickering warning gauge) being attended too becomes too narrow for overall safety outcomes (no focus on air speed, altitude, weather factors, trim of the plane, etc.).

Level Five SA
The fifth level of SA is high alert.

This alertness level introduces a rapid physiological response - it's our in-bred "fight or flight" reaction.

There’s an object falling from a scaffolding tower - quick - run away!

The car you are watching doesn’t stop at the traffic light - quick - hit the brakes!

The plane you're flying is about to fly into the ground - quick - pull up!

Being on high alert is uncomfortable and exhausting but at this level you are still able to function.

You can run, you can use the brakes to try to stop your vehicle, you can go to maximum power!

In fact, the adrenalin rush you get with the "fight or flight" response will maximize your physiological response to the danger.

In summary, SA is important for management of hazards that we face everyday.  Using Think 6, Look 6 as your mental paradigm and thought process is the best way to maintain an adequate focus on the hazards that may hurt you.  

What is Situational Awareness

Graham Marshall - Thursday, April 14, 2011

Situational Awareness (SA) is all about using Think 6, Look 6 in order to maintain your alertness to the hazards and triggers in the environment around you. 

It's about identifying potential hazards that could hurt you and the triggering mechanisms that could cause the hazards to escape from your control.

Importantly, situational awareness is both a way of observing and thinking and a process to give order to the information you're observing and thinking about. 

So SA is both a mental paradigm and a process to follow. 

We call it Think 6, Look 6 because this is the simplest way to describe both the way of thinking and the process to follow.

Situational awareness using Think 6, Look 6 can be practised by any person with the desire to use the technique.

The first element of the Think 6, Look 6 mindset and process to follow is to recognize that hazards and triggers exist all around us in the environment.

Tuning-out to one’s environment means a person’s chances of identifying hazards and triggers is virtually non-existent.

That's why apathy, denial and complacency are a deadly combination on any work place.

The second element of the Think 6, Look 6 mental schema of SA is understanding the need to take responsibility for your own personal safety, or for the safety of work colleagues, family members or even strangers if you're community-minded enough to care!

You'll recognize that the HSE resources of any organization are limited and the Safety Guy can't be on every job or manage every hazard. It's not his job to do so in any case!

Put simply, SA using Think 6, Look 6 offers people a means to look out for themselves and their co-workers (or family members when off the job).

on Saturday, I'll talk a bit about the different levels of consciousness involved in situation awareness.

Safety on Construction Sites

Graham Marshall - Sunday, March 13, 2011
Pretty funny video with quite a serious message for crane lifts and situational awareness.

Click here to view.

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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