Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July Tips: Avoiding Slips Trips and Falls…watch your step

Missing a step can become very fatal depending on the impact on the body part especially during the rains where there are lots of wet surfaces. Over 60% of falls that results in accidents occur on the same level popularly termed slips and trips which result when an unintended or unexpected change occurs between the feet and the walking surface. These hazards are easy to correct if we to identify them around our homes and work site and strive to prevent them. Take care not to cause any slip, trip, or fall hazards as you go about your daily activities. Although a fewer number of accidents occur from a height or an elevation; they are usually fatal resulting in very serious injuries to body parts.
There are three basic hazards as follows:
  • Slips: Slips occur when there is too little friction between a person's feet and the walking surface. Substances such as: oil, water, cleaning fluids, un-anchored rugs or mats, debris and other slippery substances cause slips.Weather hazards, walking surfaces without traction in all areas and occasional spills can also cause slips.
  • Trips: Trips occur when a person's foot collides an object and they are thrown off balance and eventually fall. Objects left on the walkway, tools; object that projecting into the walkway, poor lighting and uneven walking surfaces are all capable of causing trips.
  •  Falls: Falls occur because of various factors; a slip, stumble, trip over an object or a sudden quick movement throwing the body off balance. Slips and trips frequently result in a fall if loss of balance occurs. Falls also occur for other reasons including improper use of ladders and scaffolding. Falls also happen when people climb elevated structures without using fall protection equipment. Do not risk serious injury by taking shortcuts. If you are working on a ladder, scaffold, or other elevated platform, make sure you know the requirements for using them safely. Always use fall protection equipment when it is required.

Causes of Slips, trips and falls
The following are some of the potential causes of slips,trips and falls:
Walking and Working Surfaces
Almost all construction sites have unprotected sides and edges, wall openings or floor holes at some point in time. These openings and sides must be secured, or falls may occur. These potential hazards may be avoided by:
          Covering or guarding floor holes as soon as they are created.
          Using a fall prevention (e.g. guard rails) or protection (fall arrest device) system if the employees are exposed to a fall of six feet or more.
          Surveying the work site prior to start of work, and continually throughout the day to identify and guard any openings or holes.
Many sites utilize scaffolding for the employees to gain access to the elevated parts of the building or structure. If the scaffolding is improperly constructed or has unsafe access, it becomes hazardous. Scaffolding hazards can be avoided by:
          Erecting all scaffolding according to manufacturer’s directions and inspection by a competent person prior to use.
          Providing safe access to the scaffolding platforms.
          Installing guardrails along all open sides and ends according to established OSHA criteria.

Portable ladders are another common method of accessing elevated parts of the building or structure. If ladders are not positioned safely and securely fastened, they may shift and cause one to fall. To avoid potential ladder hazards:
          Inspect the ladder before each use for cracked or broken parts. A broken ladder should be taken out of service and tagged.
          Do not place more weight on the ladder than what it was designed to hold.                                         
          Secure the top of the ladder to a rigid support.
          The ladder should extend 3 feet above the landing you are accessing.
          Ensure the feet of the ladder are securely placed and will not slip out from under you.
          Ladders made on site must be able to safely hold the weight of the worker and his tools.
          While using a ladder, it is recommended you are accompanied by a fellow worker.
Preventing Slips, Trips and falls
Good housekeeping is the first and most important way of preventing falls due to slips and trips. Other ways to avoid creating slip and trip hazards are to:
  • Wear work boots or shoes with slip resistant soles.
  • Clean up any liquid spills right away.
  • Watch your step and pay attention to where you are going.
  • Ensure things you are carrying do not prevent you from seeing obstructions or spills
  • Avoid walking in areas that pose slipping hazards
  • Use abrasive or anti-slip strips on stairway, aisles or walkways
  •  Tape down or cover loose cables and electrical cords.
  • Look out for elevation change while walking
  • Keep objects that could cause someone to trip out of the way. Repair uneven flooring and install proper lighting if required.
  • Keep aisle /walkways clear from clutter or obstructions
  • Keep all floor surfaces in good condition
  • Always use installed light sources that provide sufficient light for your tasks
  • Use a flashlight if you enter a dark room where there is no light
 We must continue to focus on preventing these types of incident because injury and death from falls at work is second only to traffic accidents, taking some 21,000 lives each year.
Watch your step; do not let a slip, trip, or fall keep you from enjoying all that life has to offer.

Written by O’ Reese on behalf of En-pact Solutions Limited, 2013
Twitter: @O Reese2         

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Piper Alpha: 25years Later…………

All accidents are preventable if safe work practices are promoted, human error is eliminated and safe work conditions are provided. The worst and highly publicized disaster in history is the offshore incident of the Piper Alpha that occurred on 6th July, 1988 in the North Sea killing 167men including crew men of rescue vessel with a total loss of about GBP 1.7 billion (USD$3.4 billion). At the time of the incident, this platform was accountable for ten percent of the North Sea oil and gas production.

The platform began production in 1976 first as an oil production then as a gas production operated by Occidental Petroleum. A large capacity North Sea Drilling and Production Platform standing in 475 feet of water with topsides and jackets with peak production up to 250,000 BBLS/d and up to 250men working on it. It was interconnected to 3 other platforms: Tartan 12 miles west of Piper and 18miles from Claymore which was 22miles southwest from Piper and MCP01 stationed 34 miles northwest from Piper Alpha.
The incident happened at 2200 hrs with an explosion and large oil fire, three significant explosions followed and at 2350 hrs the accommodation module toppled into the sea. At about 0020 hrs the entire platform collapsed. The direct and indirect costs of this incident are enormous and include 167 lives lost (165 crew men and 2 rescuers); Piper ‘B’ replacement cost 1,000 million pounds; Government revenue loss and insurance costs estimated at 2,000 million pounds; Cost to rest of UK offshore industry put at 5,000 million pounds to develop Safety Cases and implement Safety Improvements.
A video highlighting the sad event titled “Remembering the Piper - a night that changed our lives” was launched in July 2013 during the 25th anniversary of the incident by Step Change in Safety, this has been circulated all over the industry to re-emphasize the importance of ensuring safety measures are implemented during operations, eliminating complacency, promoting strong leadership commitment to safety and engaging the workforce.

The following are lessons learned from the piper incident that could be applied on current operations to prevent recurrence of similar disaster:

  • The permit to work system did not ensure proper communications for the night crew operating the platform were not informed that the critical pump had been switched off for repair/maintenance.
  • The control room was located above the production platform therefore the offshore installation Manager who would have communicated effectively died in the first explosion.
  • Previous risk analysis of offshore structures did not focus on actual structural capacity.
  • The design of the facility did not provide adequate protection of structures against intense fires such as blast walls.
  • There were inadequate safety systems in place for shut down because Claymore and Tartan platforms continued pumping into Piper resulting in multiple explosions.
  • Human or Management errors for inability to communicate effectively or/and implement safe work practices.
  • There were insufficient redundancies in safety systems unrecognized coupling in the design.
  • There was compromise of safety because production was ranked a higher priority than safety.
  • There was no “shut down” plan during maintenance operations.
  • The Person In Charge did not order emergency evacuation of all persons on board.
  • The emergency routes were blocked and not clear for proper evacuation.
  • The lifeboats were inaccessible; firefighting equipments on board could not be operated because diesel pumps were on manual mode.
  • There was no emergency lighting to aid evacuation of team on board.

Currently, the oil and gas industry is still faced with the same hazards and challenges experienced over 25years ago therefore there should be conscious efforts by all to be responsible for their safety, that of fellow workers and of the environment.
A Memorial Sculpture built by Sue Jane Taylor inscribed “Lest We Forget” at Queen Elizabeth 1 Rose Garden-Hazlehead Park, Aberdeen. On each of the granite faces of the plinth is inscribed the names and ages of the dead from the incident; the youngest was 18 years and the oldest was 60 years. Under the plinth the remains of the unidentified dead are interred. The last body recovered was found on the seabed on 2nd June, 1989.

 Written by O’ Reese on behalf of En-pact Solutions Limited, 2013
Twitter: @O Reese2