The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

Construction Dust and Health

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Construction dust is a problem if not managed appropriately.

Regularly breathing in construction dust over a long period of time can cause life-changing lung diseases.

Employers in the construction industry need to know what to do to prevent or adequately control construction dust risks.

Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) and workers also need to know about the risk posed by construction dust; and how to protect themselves against the hazard.

To view an information leaflet from the UK HSE on this important topic, just click here.



Safety Alert - Texting When Working

Graham Marshall - Monday, November 19, 2012

This safety alert from the Marine Safety Forum highlights the potential conflict between concentrating on a work task and being distracted by a mobile telephone when talking or texting.

The safety alert makes some really good points and could be a good discussion aid for a tool box talk.

To access the Safety Alert, simply click here.


Extention Cable Safety

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Today's focus is on the safe use of electrical extension cables.  Please see below for some further tips provided by Matthew Pelletier,  Director of Public Relations at Compliance and Safety in the USA. 

●  Replace frayed, splinted, or damaged electrical extension cables;

●  Use electrical appliances and tools only in dry locations and situations;

●  Take your electrically-charged environment into account when outdoors;

●  In case of an electric fire, use an appropriately rated fire extinguisher;

●  Be familiar with your homes fuses board; where it is, how it operates, and label the switches;

●  Regularly check extension cables for cranks, kinks, splints, or frays before each use;
●  Ensure extension cables are firmly plugged;

●  If the plug is too loose (or the holes are too snug), choose another power point outlet with a better fit;

●  Use extension cables for the right purpose. Extension cables aren’t clothes lines, leashes, or skipping ropes;
●  Never staple or nail an extension cable in place;

●  If you need to secure a cable, tape it in place or apply twist-ties as needed;
●  Never modify an extension cable;
●  Use extension cables sparingly around your home;
●  Make sure you’re using the right cable; use the correct length, proper weight, and type (indoor or outdoor);

●  Pull on the plug at the outlet when unplugging—never on the cable itself;

●  Don’t allow cables to meander under carpets where they become a tripping trigger; and

●   Don't run extension cables above other appliances;

Men's Health in Australia

Graham Marshall - Thursday, September 06, 2012

Like other Western countries, men's overall life expectancy and health in Australia has increased markedly since the end of WWII. 

The average life span now stands at 79 years for most Australian males.

But men's life expectancy remains substantially below that of women's.

This situation is even worse for Aboriginal males.  They make up 2.5 per cent of the male population but average life expectancy is only 67 years.

Below are the most common lifestyle risks which are shortening all men's lives in Australia:

●  68% are overweight or obese;

●  95% do not consume enough fruit or vegetables;

●  58% do not get enough exercise;

●  18% smoke tobacco products daily;

●  6% drink alcohol at levels which place them at risk.

Source: InPsych, The Bulletin of the Australian Psychological Society, August, 2012.

Power Tool Safety

Graham Marshall - Sunday, April 29, 2012

This safety alert from the good folks at the Marine Safety Forum highlights the criticality of using grinders and other electric power tools which have so-called "dead-man operability".

That simply means that the grinder has an auto-shut off switch which kills the power if the tool is not being actively used.

Dead-man operability on powered tools is vital in situations where a tool could be inadvertently set down or dropped; for example if someone slips or becomes ill (e.g., heart attack).

Any auto-shut off switch on a powered tool is safety-critical equipment and it should never be purposefully over-ridden or removed.

As the example from the MSF shows, a worker using a grinder (without dead-man operability) dropped a grinding machine which continued to rotate and cut into his leg causing a 5cm gash.  Nasty!

Failure to Lock-out, Tag-out

Graham Marshall - Saturday, April 21, 2012

A failure to de-energize equipment being worked on, and then to use lock-out, tag-out (LOTO) to ensure the equipment cannot be accidentally or deliberately re-started is at the root of many serious accidents.

In this incident investigation, a marine engineer was working on an air-compressor unit which he failed to de-energize and LOTO. 

Whilst his hands were in the "danger-zone" around the compressure, the units fan auto-started, rotated at high speed and impacted his fingers.

The engineer was fortunate this time to not have his fingers or whole hand amputated.

While the incident investigation summary suggests a mental risk assessment is not a good tool, I'd suggest that a run-through the job using  the Think 6, Look 6 hazard management process would have identified the hazards (kinetic energy in the fan) and the triggers (failure to de-energize the unit, failure to apply LOTO to the unit, and potential of the unit to go into auto start-up).

A very simple analysis would have identified for the engineer the controls which were then required.

I'd suggest a risk assessment on paper is next to worthless, if you're not applying the systematic approach of Think 6, Look 6!




Loading Chemicals into the Wrong Tank

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A not uncommon cause of serious loss of containment incidents involving chemicals occurs when the wrong chemical is accidentally introduced into a process steam or storage vessel.

The resulting chemical reactions can cause temperature and pressure changes which burst containment, or lead to gas releases or liquid spills, fires or explosions.

Extra care is always required whenever potentially reactive chemicals are to be introduced or stored in close proximity.

+    Ensure the workforce understand any hazardous reactions which can occur if materials are accidentally mixed.

+    Check, then double check that the material is correct, and that it is delivered to the correct storage tank.

+    Make sure storage tank inlet and outlet pipe connections are clearly labeled,

+    Use a code or numbering system on connections to avoid confusion of materials with similar names.

+    If reactive chemicals are unloaded in the same area, or the pipe work is confusing, re-engineer the configuration.

+    Try to separate unloading locations.

+    Use different types of unloading connections, or use special valve locking systems.

+    Ensure that unloading is done by trained and qualified workers.

+    And lastly, ensure to manage the processes involved using appropriate step-by-step procedures.

This bulletin from the folks at the Centre for Chemical Process Safety highlights what can go wrong if good control mechanisms are not used when transferring chemicals into storage tanks.



Pedestrian Risk Management

Graham Marshall - Monday, April 16, 2012

It's kind of dumb, but more injuries in workplaces all across the Globe are caused during the simple act of walking about than through any other mechanism.

It's not work at heights, excavation work, using powered tools or even work in confined spaces; the number one biggest cause of accidental injury occurs when people are simply walking through the work site and they slip, trip or fall.

This safety alert from the Marine Safety Forum (MSF) illustrates an incident in which a seaman broke his leg while simply walking along a wharfside.

It is a simple "one per-center", but always remember to use Think 6, Look 6 to manage the hazards in even the most mundane acts and behaviours.




Control of Dangerous Equipment

Graham Marshall - Thursday, March 29, 2012

On Saturday 3rd March 2012, I posted a free tool box talk about the dangers posed by the use of unsafe equipment.

It is vitally important that we all take responsibility to ensure that unsafe equipment is not brought onto, or used on work sites.

Below are some tips on what you can do to control the hazards associated with unsafe equipment.



The Double Block and Bleed System of Control

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The system of engineered controls commonly called "double block and bleed" is often used to isolate a process flow (liquid,gas, powder, etc) from other equipment or processes.

It usually consists of two block valves with a bleed valve located between them which can be used to isolate a flow line and bleed off trapped pressure, gas or liquid.

The double block and bleed system of control is frequently used for the following reasons:

• To stop a flow of material;

• To provide isolation of hazardous material, temperature, or pressure during routine maintenance; and

• To provide isolation of hazards during major shut-downs.

Enclosed here is an excellent description of double block and bleed from the CCPS which could be used to explain the approach during a tool box talk.

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