As we try to make jobs safer, we focus most of our attention on the “workplace” – the office, the factory, the construction site. However, we need to remind ourselves that the workplace is really anywhere people work, especially on the road. That was made graphically clear by news from Louisiana on April 13th when a fuel truck hit a dump truck on I-310 near Luling. The dump truck driver died and the tanker driver was injured. It was all caught on a passing driver’s dashcam. Continue reading “Tanker Explosion Caught on Video: Workplace Injuries Happen Wherever We Work”
It hasn’t gotten a lot of attention, but companies have just under one month to train workers in the new OSHA General Industry Walking Working Surfaces and Fall Protection Standards. The regulation was released last November. Parts of it took effect at the start of the year, but the training requirements kick in on May 17th.
You can read an overview of the new standard here. OSHA says the rule incorporates advances in technology, industry best practices, and national consensus standards, as well as giving employers more flexibility about implementing some worker protections.
Training: The training provisions say employers must make sure that any workers who use personal fall protection and work in other specified high hazard situations are trained on the fall and equipment hazards, including fall protection systems. They must be retained if there is a change in the workplace or the employee appears to lack skills and knowledge.
Training must be done by a qualified person and must show them how to identify and minimize fall hazards; use personal fall protection systems and rope descent systems; and maintain, inspect, and store equipment or systems used for fall protection.
Safety Stand-down: As it happens, OSHA is holding a safety stand-down to prevent falls in construction from May 8-12. The website for the stand-down has a wealth of information about participating and general fall protection material. Even though it is focused on construction and the changes in the standard apply to general industry, it is a valuable resource.
What If Companies Ignore The Requirement?: That is always a challenge with new OSHA deadlines. There is always a chance that OSHA will call on a facility and ask to see training records as a part of the inspection. But the real risk for companies is if there is an incident. Falls are the leading cause of death in construction and the most cited violation. The change in the general industry standard closely tracks construction.
In other words, falls are an ever-present danger in the workplace. An employer who ignores the new standard and has an incident is liable to be cited for the incident, failing to update to the standard and failing to adequately train workers. Considering the increase in penalty levels that went into effect lasts year, ignoring this update is an expensive gamble.
If your company falls under OSHA, PHMSA or BSEE, chances are you need to have effective, compliant operating procedures in place. Now there is a place to learn how to write procedures that make sense, meet compliance requirements and will make your company safer. This is especially important in offshore oil and gas, where companies are required to have operating procedures that meet the SEMS regulations. Auditors have identified this as one of the top areas of noncompliance with SEMS plans.
We have set up two new sessions for our Secrets to Writing Compliant, Effective Operating Procedures Class. Continue reading “Update: New Classes Scheduled For Operating Procedures Class”
Quick True-or-False Question: United Airlines kicked a passenger off one of its planes last week and, when he wouldn’t leave, the airline dragged him off the plane.
False, but you would hardly know that from reading the news reports on the incident. In fact, it happened on a United Express flight that was operated and staffed by Republic Airways and the passenger was pulled off the plane by Chicago Department of Aviation personnel, as angry United pilots have made clear. Continue reading “Hidden Lesson From United Airlines Debacle”
Lifeline Strategies has launched a new class on writing effective, compliant operating procedures, especially under the offshore Safety and Environmental Management Systems (SEMS) regulations. SEMS has very specific requirements for operating procedures. Auditors, the Center for Offshore Safety and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement have all identified operating procedures as one of the top areas for improvement. Make sure your company is following the rules!
Classes are scheduled for: Continue reading “Sign Up Now For Our Next Operating Procedures Classes or Attend a Free Preview This Week.”
I got a surprise in teaching our first class on writing compliant operating procedures last week – The one topic that produced the most participant discussion was on how to work with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). Everyone in the class agreed that SMEs are critically important in developing quality procedures, but everyone also seemed to have a war story about the problems of working with an SME. With that in mind, here are five tips (plus one extra) for making the process of working with an SME go smoothly.
The U.S. Coast Guard has been beefing up its offshore oil and gas expertise and now has launched a newsletter aimed at communicating with the offshore industry. The newsletter, named DRILL DOWN, is produced by the Outer Continental Shelf National Center of Expertise. The first issue came out on March 27th, quickly followed by a second newsletter a few days later. You can access them and all future newsletters by clicking here. The first two letters are more of an introduction to the center of expertise. The Coast Guard is soliciting questions and comments from industry and the public and will use the newsletter to engage and inform on its work and interpretation of the regulations.
The OCS center was formed in 2009 to provide a focal point for subject matter expertise on offshore compliance and safety that falls under the Coast Guard’s authority. That includes inspection of Offshore Supply Vessels (OSVs), Mobile Offshore Drilling Units (MODUs), and Production Facilities as well as incident investigations.
When many companies think about managing workplace injuries, they may think about OSHA reporting rules, light duty and avoiding litigation, but the real key to improving outcomes and holding down costs is to get inside the worker’s head, according to a new study.
A white paper looks at the RMS Workers’ Compensation Benchmarking Study for 2016, which asked companies to rank the biggest obstacles to improving claim outcomes. The number one obstacle wasn’t lawsuits, return-to-work problems or late reporting of injuries (although those were high on the list). The top problem was addressing what the study calls “Psychosocial Roadblocks.” Continue reading “Why Getting In Workers’ Heads May Be Key to Reducing Injury Impact”
The Coast Guard just issued a safety alert for the offshore oil and gas industry that highlights the extra level of care that needs to go into offshore facilities. You can’t just walk away from an offshore facility and when things go wrong offshore there is always the potential for them to go wrong in a big, big way.
In this case the incident was minor, the potential consequences were very high and the incident was completely and totally avoidable. According to the Coast Guard, there was a fire in a portable accommodation unit on an offshore facility. The crew woke to the sound of the fire alarm, acted quickly and professionally to control the fire and got some help from a nearby vessel.
The cause of the fire was a stove that was installed incorrectly on the portable
unit. The manufacturer’s instructions indicated that the clearance between the stove and any combustible construction material needed to be at least six inches. However, the stove had actually been installed less than an inch from a wall made of combustible wood and fiber-reinforced plastic and covered with stainless steel sheeting, which conducted the heat.
Normally, the Coast Guard would review specifications for modules on drilling units, but, since this was a fixed platform, there was no review. it is worth adding that the SEMS rule requires that operators identify hazards and ensure mechanical integrity.
But the bottom line is that offshore work involves some unique safety challenges, but failing to follow the manufacturer’s instructions should not be one of them. And the Coast Guard shouldn’t have to remind industry on something this basic.
It was a pleasure and an honor to be able to present at the Bayou Chapter of ASSE at Nicholls State in Thibodeaux yesterday. I was very impressed with the group, the level of experience and expertise in the membership and the energetic leadership for the chapter. For anyone who hasn’t visited Nicholls State, I would also add that the school’s Petroleum Engineering Technology and Safety Management is a hidden gem.
My talk was on the importance of operating procedures as a part of a compliant SEMS program and as a underused safety tool. If you would like more information on the subject, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.