Tanker Explosion Caught on Video: Workplace Injuries Happen Wherever We Work

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”

Why Getting In Workers’ Heads May Be Key to Reducing Injury Impact

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”

Coast Guard Warns Offshore Oil & Gas Industry: Follow The Directions!

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.

 

Should Workers Comp Cover Injury from a “Bad Trip?”

What a long strange trip its been when it comes to the advent of legalized (at least at the state level) marijuana.   Pot use has come up over and  over in the area of workers compensation.  Should medicinal use be covered?  Is use at the time of an injury a workers comp deal-killer?

But even among all of these new issues, this case stands out as a head-scratcher.   Continue reading “Should Workers Comp Cover Injury from a “Bad Trip?””

Come To Our Presentation On Operating Procedures As A Powerful Offshore Safety Tool

Badly written or poorly followed operating procedures have been linked to more than half of offshore oil and gas accidents.  Auditors continually identify them as weaknesses in SEMS plans.  In the last couple of years, BSEE has fined companies thousands of dollars for bad operating procedures.
We’ll be giving two presentations on how to use procedures as a powerful safety tool in the next month:

Thibodeaux, LA, Tuesday, March 21:  ASSE Bayou Chapter lunch meeting, 11:30 at Nicholls State Student Union in Houma. The charge is $25 to help fund the chapter.  Register by emailing the Bayou Chapter officers at  wren_lemmon1@yahoo.com.

Houston, TX, Thursday, April 14:  ASSE Energy Corridor Section, Spring Creek BBQ, 2100 Katy Fwy, Katy, Texas.

Continue reading “Come To Our Presentation On Operating Procedures As A Powerful Offshore Safety Tool”

HazMat Prep and Response Training

I have had several requests for HazMat and HazCom training recently and have found a lot of confusion in what companies were actually looking for.  In talking to some colleagues, I realized that this is a fairly common problem.  Companies all need to provide OSHA HazCom training and ones that ship transport or receive hazardous materials need to provide DOT HazMat, but they may not know where one stops and the other starts.  It is understandable because they overlap and a lot of classes are hybrids of the two. Continue reading “HazMat Prep and Response Training”

Video for Safety Meeting: Burrito Causes Bus Crash

Need to “drive” home the point about distracted driving at your next safety meeting?   How about this video.  A bus driver in Albuquerque trying to navigate the streets and a burrito at the same time.  It turns out he can’t do both.  Thanks to the always informative and always interesting website Safety News Alert for this:

And while we are at it, here is a Russian bus driver who discovered the dangers of sleep deprivation on the job:

 

New Safety Video Aimed At Bullet-Proof Fishermen

We all have that friend who loves to fish but is a menace to himself and everyone else when he gets anywhere near a boat.   Do him a favor – Sit him down and make him watch this video!

It comes from Maritime NZ, which promote safe recreational and commercial boating in New Zealand.  The New Zealanders take their fish and their humor seriously!  This video makes the point that no one is bullet-proof when they get out on the water in a way that is very funny and very effective.   It is the first of three safety videos the agency is releasing.  Enjoy it and remember – never get caught with your pants down when you are fishing!

WIN AN EPIC $1,500 PRIZE PACK. What should you always wear when you're on the water? Watch the Big Angry Fish boys in the video and comment to win. The most creative correct answer wins the pack. You can only enter once per video. Entries close: 10 February. T&Cs apply: http://bit.ly/2jiHHoQ

Posted by Safer Boating NZ on Thursday, January 19, 2017

What The Boss Doesn’t Know Can Hurt Him….And His Company

Google the phrase “Safety starts at the top” and you will get more than 6,000 results.  We automatically accept that the CEO sets the tone on safety in a company.
What if the people at the top don’t know the true state of safety in their organizations?   DNV GL just released a study that makes that point crystal clear.   The report, SHORT-TERM AGILITY, LONG-TERM RESILIENCE, looks at a lot of issues facing the oil and gas industry as it attempts to recover, including the impact of intense cost cutting on overall safety.    DNV GL’s survey of executives found that more than half expect to continue to lay off workers in 2017 and one-third expect to reduce spending on training and competency systems. Only a handful expect to increase spending on health, safety, and environmental programs.
Here’s the most interesting part of the DNV GL study – They asked different levels within organizations whether cost-cutting initiatives were increasing health and safety risk.
Only one-in-10 of the executives thought cutbacks in the company had increased safety risks.  However, roughly one-in-four of the people who were closest to the ground – either business unit heads of non-managers – thought there was increased risk.
What does this mean?   There are a couple of scenarios.  Both spell trouble:
Scenario One:  The heads of units and rank-and-file workers overestimate the risk.  That is natural. Good unit and line managers worry about risk a lot because they are directly responsible for controlling it. Cuts came to programs they were directly involved in, so they felt them directly.  Let’s also accept that some safety programs may not have been all that effective in the first place and cutting them doesn’t materially impact risk.  The danger here is that, if unit managers and people in the field overestimate risk, the top executives have failed to communicate why and how their companies are going to run lean without sacrificing safety.
Scenario Two: Oil patch execs don’t have a true feel for the safety risks in the field.  The danger there is even greater, because the people who run the companies may not have enough visibility on their exposure to accidents, injuries and losses.   Either way, it could spell trouble.
Part of the problem is that top execs usually look at programs (budgets for safety may not have been cut as much as other parts of the company), stats (usually recordable injuries and time away from work, which should be lower if there is less work and you aren’t hiring inexperienced employees).   As the study points out, part of the problem is:
the distance between the boardroom of the budget-setters and the risks in the field. Senior management often have good sight of formal indicators (such as lost-time injuries or days away from work) but can sometimes be too far from operations to see things like corroding steel,failing pipework, structural problems or workforce overload.
However, we are now three years into a serious downturn.  Maintenance and replacements have been deferred.  A lot of the tools that give executives objective visibility into field conditions, like audits and inspections, have been reduced, if not cut.  If the company relies on contractors, survival has meant requiring those contractors to make their own deep cuts, forcing them to figure out how to make ends meet.
The disconnect on safety perception between the C-suite and the people who are closest to the work is not unique to this downturn or even oil and gas.  It shows up frequently in surveys of every industry.   A 2010 survey of company culture on Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) in Australia asked people throughout company structures
about their safety programs.   About 85% of the Owners and CEO’s said they agreed or strongly  agreed that “Top level management demonstrates a commitment to OHS.”   Down at the field or specialist level, that number fell to less than 60%.
Some of this has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with the way information is shared in organizations.  There is a popular pyramid graph that shows how much bad news is actually shared within an organization.  The message is that only about four percent of the problems experienced in the field actually make it to the CEO’s desk.   The warning is that no one wants to bring the boss bad news.
As oil and gas recovers, companies put more crews in the field, new people get hired and equipment utilization goes up.  The potential for incidents related to equipment failures, over-work or lack of training goes up the way too much pressure can find a weak spot in a balloon.
CEOs and their executive teams need to be actively engaged in identifying risk and addressing weaknesses.  Unit managers need to be honest about what they are seeing in the field.   Above all, CEOs need to invest in communicating with every level of their organizations so they have a true picture of their exposure and ensuring that no one is afraid to bring bad news to their doors.