Texting/Driving Video For Your Next Safety Meeting

Large numbers of  companies have or are considering policies that ban texting while driving.    According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, 44 states ban texting while driving.   The question is, what is your company doing to get the message across?

Here is a video that can help:

Try that one at your next safety meeting.   Let me know what the reaction was!


Relaxing May Be Hazardous to Your Health!

There is an old saying,  “No one on their deathbed ever says they wish they had spent more time at the office.”   However, a couple of recent posts by the National Safety Council might have you rethinking that.    For all of our concern about workplace safety, a lot of scary stuff happens when you are away from work.

First let’s look at firing up the BBQ.  According to the National Fire Protection Association, July is the most popular month for outdoor grilling.  NFPA says “Charcoal grills were involved in an annual average of 1,400 home fires from 2007-2011. Gas grills are an even higher risk, being involved in an annual average of 7,200 home fires.”    This post from NSC has some good tips for safe grilling.  Here is a pretty good video on safety tips from State Farm:

Or maybe you spend your off-time working on handyman projects.    We already know that lumbering or carpentry can be hazardous, but a new study  shows that nearly 65% of woodworking accidents are recreational.    It also indicates that less than 1/3 or hobbyists wear the right PPE when they work.     The study looks at both on the job and off the job woodworking incidents.    One interesting note is that the study indicates that 90% of workers who were injured were using new equipment when the accident happened.  Read more here.

So maybe the next time you tell  employees to stay late at work you can say it is to keep them from getting hurt.   Hmmmmmmmmm.

EPA To Address Risk Management Regs

Federal agencies have been on a year-long soul searching over their regulations governing hazardous chemicals.  A multi-agency task force presented its recommendations to the White House recently and we have already seen OSHA re-open its Process Safety Management (PSM) regulations for a full review.  It is all in response to the West, Texas fertilizer disaster and a string of other chemical-related incidents.

Now, the EPA is seeking public comments on its Risk Management Plan (RMP) Rule.  the RMP rule says companies that store or use chemicals above certain threshold limits must create plans that include hazard analysis, prevention and emergency response information.

The request for information will be published soon.  A pre-release copy is available here.    If the link changes after the proposal is published, you should be able to find it at www.regulations.gov by putting “RIN 2050-ZA07 ” in the search box.

Unlike the OSHA PSM proposal, which could greatly expand the types of operations included in the regulations, the EPA proposal appears limited to the industries that are already included in the RMP rule.  But it could mean a big change in how the plans are implemented.

It includes a section on Safety Case, a hazard management approach required in the North Sea and other oil and gas areas.  The section on Safety Case is interesting because it hints that too many regulations would have to be changed to make Safety Case a viable change, but then says how it could be implemented without changing all the regulations.

The comment period on the EPA proposal is open for 90 days after it is published.

Safety Leadership – What Kind of Leaders Do You Want?

“Safety leadership” is a popular phrase in HSE circles.   A Google search turns up 106 million references for “Safety leadership.”  Nearly three million refer to PowerPoint presentations (heaven help us all!).

Ideally we want every manager and every employee to lead on safety.  But what kind of leadership do we want?  A new study says the tools you use to motivate decide what kind of leaders you get.

Tom Kolditz, who chaired West Point’s Behavioral Science and Leadership Department, writes about a study of 10,000 Army leaders.  The study tracked individuals from their days at the academy on through their careers.

We already know that some people lead because they have an inner motivation.  For example,  they may have an obligation to serve or to help others.   Some people lead for external reasons.  They may want the perks, like more money or recognition.

The study found that officers who were motivated by internal factors (doing good) were much more effective than leaders who were motivated by external reasons (getting the perks).   That is not all that surprising.     The surprise came when they looked at what happens when you mix internal and external motivations.  You would think those leaders would be the most motivated, because they have more reasons to do well.

However, the study found that leaders who had a mix of motivation were actually less successful than leaders who were purely motivated by internal factors.   They were less effective by about 20 percent.

What does this mean for safety programs?    It would seem to say we need to put our efforts into building internal motivation rather than trying to reward crews for showing leadership.

How do we do that?

  1. Stress cause and effect – uncontrolled hazards lead to incidents.  Controlling hazards prevent incidents.
  2. Help workers understand the positive impact that their safe actions have on protecting themselves and co-workers.
  3. Give them the big picture – Safety contributes to effective operations.
  4. Don”t take short cuts on building leaders.  You can’t communicate the message on safety leadership in one safety meeting or with a couple of emails.
  5. Lead by example.   People pattern themselves on the behavior they see around them.

The bottom line is that leaders are built from the inside out.   You can’t bribe people to work safely.  You can’t threaten them into working safely.   It has to come from within.

Seeing is Believing – Videos to Amp Up Your Safety Meetings

It is hard to imagine what you can’t see.  Sometimes that simple fact makes is difficult to get communicate hazard recognition to works.   Fortunately, YouTube is a ready source of real life examples.   Here are a couple to show at your next safety meeting.

In the first one, a structural failure at a construction site would have been fatal if workers had not been in harness:

The second one is a little long, but it contains every nightmare crane scenario you could imagine:

Finally, railroad crossing safety.   Trains vs. trucks…never a fair fight.  Fortunately, in this Texas accident, no one was killed:



SEMS II: What The Heck Does This Mean?

Interpreting a new regulation can be like putting together the pieces of a big interlocking jigsaw puzzle.  The challenge is in figuring out how one section connects with another.  the challenge.

But sometimes there are a few pieces of the jigsaw puzzle missing.  Which brings me to SEMS II. SEMS II adds a number of new requirements to the existing rules, but you have to figure out how they relate to those other requirements to figure out how to meet SEMS II.

The case in point is the requirement that offshore personnel be trained in a new JSA process.  The regulation says:

“All personnel, which includes contractors, must be trained in accordance with the requirements of § 250.1915. You must also verify that contractors are trained in accordance with § 250.1915 prior to performing a job.”

One way to read that (and this is the way I read it at first) is that oil and gas companies need to make sure everyone who works under a JSA have to be trained in the process before they go offshore.   That would only make sense, since JSAsare critical part of hazard recognition and control.

But there is another way to read it (and this is the way I am starting to read it).  The JSA section refers to  Section § 250.1915.  That is the Training section of SEMS, which focuses on:

  • Training  – “…all personnel are trained in accordance with their duties and responsibilities to work safely and are aware of potential environmental impacts.”
  • Skill and knowledge“…ensure that  persons assigned to operate and  maintain the facility possess the required knowledge and  skills to carry  out their duties and responsibilities…”

If you really apply that section,operators would need to ensure that personnel are qualified to perform the tasks contained in the JSA.  Do you see the difference in the two interpretations?   Under one, an operator would need to verify that the worker was trained in the JSA process.  Under the other, the operator would need to verify that the worker could do his/her assigned tasks under the JSA.

The only thing they have in common is that either way, the operator needs to verify the training, skills or knowledge before the worker goes offshore, not after the job is done or through an audit.   That is why operators are pushing contractors so hard to assess their workers’ skill and knowledge.   (And why we teach those skills through our SEMSReady classes).

In talking about the need for things to be written clearly and correctly, Mark Twain said: “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”

Wonder what Twain would have said about SEMS II!

One Stop Shopping For Changes In Regulations

What if you could find all of the regulatory changes affecting your industry in one place?     IADC put up a valuable document written by John Pertgen that tries to capture every recent change in regulations or proposed changes that could affect the drilling industry.   If you are responsible for updating your company compliance policies and training, you may want to bookmark this one: http://www.iadc.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/July14FederalSummary.pdf.

What You Do After An Incident Is As Important As Incident Prevention

So the accident happens.   What do you do next?

Sometimes we lose sight of the connection between safety programs (which try to prevent or mitigate the outcomes of hazards) and loss control (which tries to manage the costs associated with those hazards).

Of course, the biggest cost-saver is to prevent the incident. However, if an incident does take place and a worker is injured, a new study says what you do next will have an enormous impact on the cost and potential disruption of that incident.   The Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) looked at factors that resulted in workers getting back to work and not needing continued medical treatment.   It turns out that one of the biggest factors is worker trust:

  • Workers who were strongly concerned about being fired after the injury experienced poorer return-to-work outcomes than workers without those concerns.
  • One in five workers who were concerned about being fired reported that they were not working at the time of the interview. This was double the rate that was observed for workers without such concerns. Among workers who were not concerned about being fired, one in ten workers was not working at the time of the interview.
  • Concerns about being fired were associated with a four-week increase in the average duration of disability.

In other words, workers who were worried about being fired after an accident spent an extra month on disability compared to workers who felt secure.  Clearly the takeaway is that spending time reassuring workers about their future post-incident isn’t just the right thing to do; it is also the financially prudent thing to do. 

The study also gives additional support to company wellness programs.    We often think about wellness programs as a way to hold down initial healthcare costs (If I exercise, I may avoid a heart attack).   However, the study looks at the worker’s health as it relates to recovery rates when there is an incident:

  • Workers with hypertension (when compared with workers without hypertension) had a 3 percentage point higher rate of not working at the time of the interview predominantly due to injury.
  • Workers with heart problems reported an 8 percentage point higher rate of not working at the time of interview predominantly due to injury and had disability duration that was four weeks longer.
  • Workers with diabetes had a 4 percentage point higher rate of not working at the time of the interview predominantly due to injury than workers without diabetes.

(Are you rethinking whether putting those donuts in the break room was such a good idea?)

Some companies may not be convinced that safety and wellness programs or post-incident employee outreach are valuable, but the evidence clearly shows that they are critical to the bottom line.


Baaken Oil & Gas Under OSHA Spotlight

OSHA is ramping up enforcement efforts in North Dakota in an effort to address oilfield and construction fatalities.   The agency made the announcement yesterday that it is in additional investigators from other offices and sending them to North Dakota.

According to OSHA, oil & gas and construction incidents accounted for 87% of the fatalities it investigated in North Dakota in the last four years.   In all 34 workers died in oil & gas or construction during that period.   Significantly,  21 of those deaths involved personnel working on and servicing drilling rigs or conducting production support operations in the oil and gas industry.

OSHA has tried a number of strategies to bring the North Dakota incident rate down.  On the carrot side, OSHA has worked with industry on  safety stand downs and communicating safety information.  On the stick side, OSHA has had a” local emphasis program” for the oil and gas industry for the last three years, including chemical sampling of fracking and tank gauging operations to test for atmospheric hazards.    As noted in an earlier blog, OSHA has also been issuing larger fines and refusing to negotiate them in the area.

Clearly OSHA only has so many tools in its toolbox and the solution can only come from industry.

Let Us Help You With SEMS Skills And Knowledge

SEMS doesn’t just say offshore workers need to be trained in the job.  It says they need the skills and knowledge to do the job.  Offshore operators want contractors to prove that through job evaluations and the Center For Offshore Safety recommends companies adopt a management system to accomplish that.

Our SEMSReady classes show you how to create and perform evaluations to meet your oil and gas customer requirements.   The step-by-step approach helps you:

  • Identify the critical job tasks covered under SEMS,
  • Determine the best ways to evaluate worker skills and knowledge, and
  • Evaluate employees so that the results will hold up under audits.

Our next classes will be:

Thursday,  July 31 in Houston (Note, this class has a limited number of seats available, so register early.)

Wednesday, August 6 in Lafayette

To register, click here.

We can also work directly with your company to create a Skills and Knowledge Management System to meet the intent of the Center for Offshore Safety’s recommendations.

For more information, contact me at KenWells@LifelineStrategies.com.