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Showing posts from 2014

WHAT IS SAFETY?

Sometimes we think or assume we know only to find out we don't.

For example, can you honestly answer the question: What is safety? Is it the absence of danger? Or a state of no accident, injury or damage? Or just some abstract thing that doesn't really exist outside your mind? Have you really given it a thought? It is a bit like asking BB King what is jazz music, isn't it?.

Would you say it has to do with something that started somewhere in Africa, forcibly brought to America via slave ships or that jazz is simply good music or something else? Either way you won't be making much sense to quite a number of folks but in the end, it is generally accepted that jazz is good music by followers of that genre of music.

Safety though is simpler and much more complex at the same time. Now safety is why you're careful about the water you drink, the food you eat, how you travel, where you sleep and when, the company you keep, etc. etc. That's why folks say to you to drive …

IF THIS WERE TO HAPPEN ON YOUR INSTALLATION......

If this were to happen on your installation how would you react or respond? Would you know what to do? Are your people prepared to do what has to be done? Is there a plan in place to deal with stuff like this? Has the plan ever been tested, worked or it is locked up in the boss' office to show who  the Top Cat is? Or it is widely publicized for the workforce's clear and unambiguous understanding and effective practical interpretation? Does anyone know for sure what the plan says and who's got what and what role in any type of situation? What are the goals of the plan? When last was it updated to reflect current installation status or take into account recent hardware or procedural changes? Who's the focal point or custodian,whose job it is to maintain the Plan in a state of currency? Now is everyone confident they can do what's expected of them correctly and in time in an emergency? Who has been trained? Who has not been trained? For assigned roles and responsibility, …

FIRE IN AN OIL AND GAS INSTALLATION

Fire on an oil and gas facility is no joking matter especially if located offshore.

For one thing these accident types choose the most unexpected times to occur. Typically in the dead of the night, pitch black surroundings, while most persons onboard are in slumberland dreaming of a beautiful and magical tomorrow. So the accident arrives, unannounced, and proceeds to wreak havoc on all, any and every, leaving devastation in its wake. Survivors, if there are any, are left aghast, wondering what went wrong.

The aftermath of any major accident event (MAE) on an oil and gas facility is sure to throw up an endless reel of questions ranging from what was going on at the time, who was doing what, where, how, when and for how long? Was the correct procedure adopted? Was the job hazard thoroughly evaluated? Was the supervisor competent to oversee such jobs? What about safety precautions for the job? Was there a Permit-To-Work clearing the work to go ahead? What about Emergency Response Plan? …

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AN ACCIDENT

We often tend to cover up avoidable mistakes at work, play, on the road, at home and in the community with that word "ACCIDENT", but most times the word is just a convenient scape goat.

Sheer escapism. But don't get me wrong because occasionally accidents do occur. Earthquakes, land and mud slides, tsunamis, etc. are accidents but they happen to be natural occurrences or events. Being of such peculiar nature, there is precious little we can do to prevent them coming to pass, thereby limiting us to whatever damage controls we can muster in their aftermath to minimize fallouts or consequences.

But not so for injuries, deaths or property damage at work, play, home, road or in the community because we can and should be able to prevent or at the very least, reduce the frequency of occurrence, if we chose to do so. It therefore follows that what we like to conveniently refer to as accidents at work and everywhere else are simply products of our errors, omission and/or commiss…

HOW MUCH DOES A NEAR MISS INCIDENT COST?

In 'ACCIDENT IS MONEY DOWN THE DRAIN', we tried illustrating  how a NOTHING HAPPENED near miss incident of a hammer accidentally slipping off a technician's grasp, falling through a considerable height and landing safely between two busy foremen, with no damage to property or injury to anyone on site resulted in so much useful production time loss. A conservative computation of the time-cost estimate showed what seemed to be a 'harmless' incident costing the site company management a hefty 3.4 Man-Days lost time in direct costs! The exercise ended without considering the 'POTENTIAL' of the occurrence.

'POTENTIAL' simply refers to the probability of a much more consequential outcome by chance or slightly altered circumstances given the number of people exposed to the threat at the time. This is usually what constitutes the difference between a 'NOTHING HAPPENED' incident, a disabling/ serious property damage one or a fatality. That the people…

ACCIDENT IS MONEY DOWN THE DRAIN

Any accident is money down the drain, pure and simple. No two ways about it.

So I am pained and amused at the same time whenever I hear people chuckling that what 'happened' to them was 'nothing' because 'NOTHING' happened. The NOTHING being a reference to the fact that the incident occasioned no injury or apparent damage. How interesting? Interesting because that kind of talk or line of thinking can only get you into some BIGGER trouble in due course if you do not begin to rethink the way you see things soon enough.

Now consider that even for a near miss incident, which roughly translates to an unplanned event that did not result in injury, illness, or damage - but had the potential to do so - there are costs. They may not be apparent but they sure are there, quietly chipping away at your business bottom line. To illustrate: imagine that your construction site employees are beavering away with gusto, chasing the next milestone, when a 'Tech' on the fif…

THAT 5-MINUTE PEP TALK BEFORE THE JOB

There are pep talks and there are pep talks.

Over the years, I've had the privilege of observing pep talks all day long on seismic crews, construction sites, production platforms, processing plants, wire line, drilling operations, rig moves and so on. But not once have I left not feeling maybe the crew could have done better with the shape and content of the core messages thereof. This is because I am of the view that safety messages are only helpful if they are clear and to the point, with little or no ambiguity, if any at all. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

Now 5-minutes is not a great deal of time for even the most gifted and skillful of speakers to nail  home  the key safety dos and don'ts of the job soon to commence. So most of these talks frequently average out to be sing songs and prayerful affairs in the end, with generalized 'messages' like be 'your brother's keeper', 'safety is everybody's business', 'you all know what…

THAT SAFETY MEETING

Safety meetings are a cardinal feature of all safety programmes.

It doesn't matter much whether they're scheduled, impromptu or otherwise, you can't escape them anyway. Visit any worksite and you're sure to hear something about a safety meeting. It may be about the agenda for the next one due or how boring and ineffectual the last one was. Meetings can be exciting, appropriate and to the point. So also can they be a major turn off, dull, uninspiring, uninteresting and sleep-inducing.

There's probably nothing with a greater potential to harm workplace team safety interest than a poorly organized, poorly conducted safety meeting. If it isn't 'productive' in terms of the 'takeaways' then there'll be little or no incentive for the participants to give it any memory space. Safety meetings are supposed to be like refueling stations. They provide opportunities to recharge your knowledge bank of batteries via real time experience-sharing, discoverin…

WORN HANDTOOLS

Hand tools come in handy for all kinds of domestic and workplace chores, whether it be a simple task of opening a can of soup, loosening a rusty screw, hammering a stubborn nail into place or filing off a rough edge of some newly fabricated machine part. Used properly and safely, they're a delight as they help make light of most chores or applications. But misused or abused, they can spell trouble for the user.

Using a screw driver as a lever or chisel or a spanner as hammer or a pair of pliers as a spanner can lead to serious injuries. So also can using worn tools such as mushroomed hammers, chisels or blunt ended screw drivers and bent flat or ringed spanners. It is important for hand tool users to recognize the limitations of particular tools by selecting the right tool for the job. Misapplication is an unsafe act which is better avoided.

With training on proper handling and use of hand tools, the potential for accidents and injuries can be reduced significantly right at the …

SO GOOD ON-THE-JOB THAT SAFETY IS A DISTRACTION.....!

Really? Don't you believe it.

I've come across some fellows on-the-job who believe they're so competent they can't afford to be sidetracked by 'all that safety talk'. Such people scare the living daylights out of me for I can't imagine anything more ignorant.

For a start, you can't be good on-the-job if you don't operate by the rules or boundaries of that job. There's no free-for-all standard or job specification anywhere for anyone to play with. Every job is pinned to specifics such as how it should be done, by whom, level of competence required, applicable level of training and certification, the desired performance outcome and measurement. Otherwise productivity wouldn't amount to much in the end.

Breaking down a job into specific steps creates the opportunity for the right operational safety questions to be asked and answered even at the conceptual stages. The more a job task is subjected to critical analysis the safer it'll be in th…

Your Phone is Safe...It's You I'm Worried About!

Long before mobile phones came along people still found ways to make things turn out the way they weren't supposed to. No doubts.

Work could still be hazardous or downright perilous provided the right triggers were present. People ate, drank, smoked behind the wheel. Why some even tried reading the morning or evening paper in slow-moving traffic, while not a few lady drivers made a habit of a little powder application every now and again. What with having to beat the rush hour traffic - no time enough at home, so the in the car it is. Well some got away with it but many didn't.

That means many got involved in vehicle collisions that could have been avoided or prevented. Which meant spending time and money unforeseen, unplanned. Time too, not to mention the rest of it like anger, frustration, etc. But in the end it wasn't 'too bad' because we could generally  'live' with the outcome or so we quietly mused.

Then came along this cute invention called mobile p…

SAFETY IN THE BUSINESS - HOPE Vs. EXPERIENCE

Business safety issues in Nigeria are largely left to hope rather than experience.
Cataclysmal occurrences elsewhere are ascribed to ill luck, home trouble, which can be left with the pastor or marabout to sort out while you get on with the business of "making money". Sad road to take. Mind you, the choice is yours. Besides, the power to choose is one of the most powerful tools God gifted us with so there's no call for regret when it all falls down and your business is wiped out with employees killed or maimed and you're left with massive restitution bills, compensation claims, hiked insurance premiums and general re-start headaches; and a permanently damaged business reputation.

Mind you, people will cotton on faster if we had a clear cut policy and practice of enforcement of health and safety regulations in this country. Things would work better, boundaries and limitations would be more apparent and consequences will be obvious. But not here. It's free-for-all…

ACCIDENTS

That nasty word again, accident! They are a pain in the wrong place, pure and simple.

Regarded with fear and trepidation by most, it is totally justifiable to seek ways and means to prevent them from occurring in the first place. Whether in your home, community, business or at play, accidents mean just the one thing: Losses.

Accident victims may never quite completely finish recounting their experiences to the minute detail nor is it possible to put a definite figure to the cost of loss suffered or incurred but they will surely not forget the date, place and time of occurrence.

Fact is there's usually little or no redeeming feature to an accident, all considered. Apart from the chaos and disruption that attends their wake, accidents normally leave those victims the worst for wear no matter the level or severity. Prevention therefore stands out as the best option of choice open to anyone keen on avoiding the bagful of troubles trailing such downgrading events.

No cost or effort the…

UNSAFE DRIVING

Safe driving is a habit just as much as unsafe driving. Both of them are a matter of choice and practice! It starts with learning to drive: you're either taught to drive the right way or the wrong way. Then you simply proceed from there on to hone the skills and perfect the art as learned in training. The result is therefore as evidenced on the road everyday, each day, 24/7. So it is safe to say that safe and unsafe driving habits are two sides of the same coin.... The real story begins to unfold when that coin is tossed, to land one face up. Violations, collisions, property damage, injuries, anger, frustration and sometimes, death often result when it lands 'saying' unsafe. Then all hell is let lose as previous plans are put on hold or completely derailed to make way for the real issues of the moment. Principal of which is that your trip is immediately aborted as the unsafe driver and one or more other innocent road users have to square up to the reality of a myriad of u…

EMERGENCY RESPONSE

No one likes to have to deal with unwanted events - accidents, much less the major ones! For one thing, workplace accidents, no matter how minor, spell doom for the corporate pocket. They simply are downgrading events with little or no redeeming features. They come in in all shapes and sizes, and can occur at anytime of day or night. Clearly, this underlines a need to meet them head on with concrete response plans long before reality hits. The prime objective of ER planning should be mitigation of the resultant effects of an occurrence.

It is therefore of utmost importance to make such plans as simple and as clear as possible - short and sharp, as some might say. Clarity in terms of roles and responsibilities; simple and direct as can be, in terms of sphere of influence or field of command. Plans must be such that each segment dovetails seamlessly into the next, or confusion and shirking of responsibility will reign supreme come the day. There's no greater escalatory factor in an …

IS IT WORTH IT?

Next time you start out taking a risk, ask yourself if it's worth it.

Don't get me wrong. Taking risks is perfectly normal otherwise we will be a pretty boring lot.. After all, that's what life is about. You know, no venture, no success, like they say. Besides, I read somewhere a few years back that a thing is safe only if the risks are acceptable. You know, like flying, swimming, running, drinking or even eating, etc. Sure, we know so too but hey, show me what doesn't have an element of risk and I'll show you something dull and uninteresting.

So all of these routine human activities are inherently hazardous. As a matter of fact, you could come face-to-face with trouble yourself, if you do not obey some basic safety rules governing such activities. I mean, you could choke while eating if you ate too fast, too much, etc. Any swimmer will tell you for free too that the risk of drowning is accepted as an inevitable part of swimming. It doesn't matter how good you…

DRIVING AND TEXTING

Fewer things are more dangerous than texting and driving at the same time. The sheer thought of it should send cold shivers down anybody's spine. That some people do it at all just goes to show how much of a chance we're sometimes willing to take. Quite frankly, the two are simply not compatible.

Very often you read of motorists who got into some nasty preventable collisions because they just couldn't help indulging in sending a text while driving. Doesn't it make you wonder? Which is better? To arrive your destination safely or the alternative of ending up in some in some emergency ward somewhere? Must you send that text at that material time?

Why gamble with yours and other road users' health? How much of time do you really save when you embark on typing out a text while your vehicle is still in motion? Come to think of it, what is the big idea anyway?

Driving commits you to a certain level of responsible behavior, so your decisions and choices should match that …

TOOLBOX TALKS

Sending your work crew out to do a job is one thing but whether the task is completed safely and on time, is quite another. Because on the odd occasion something goes horribly wrong. What was supposed to be a simple, routine task turns out to be much more than everyone expected, including yourself, the Boss. You're left gasping and wondering what went wrong. How could such a simple task be bungled by an experienced crew? Bungled, you say?

But it does happen. And it has happened, so where do we go from here?

Good question. Where do we go from here or more specifically, where do you go from here?

Well you can start with getting your work crew together and have them discuss that so called simple, routine task at the onset. You see, if they know what is to be done, who's to do what, when, where and how? The end story would be a much happier one.

This is what is otherwise referred to by some as 'Toolbox Talk" by some. The idea being that if all the component parts of the …