Safety
LinkedIn | 10 February 2017

Column: Safety Leadership—Below the Waterline

McLaughlin

Recently, I read an “In Court” article in the Safety & Health Practitioner online magazine where three construction companies were found to be complicit in the death of Rafal Myslim. Intrigued, I then started browsing through the 64 other pages of the “In Court” articles. Each of these pages contains at least 30 different articles covering various fatalities, serious injuries, and occupational disease, in addition to details on company directors and owners being prosecuted over a failure to discharge his or her duties in a fit and proper manner. These articles go from where we are today back through to 2004; that’s 1,920 articles over a 13-year period. It makes quite sobering reading.

What is most interesting is that, when you start to analyze the information provided rather than just browsing through, what starts to appear is a rather bleak picture of the challenge that we all face. Now, although these articles cover just the United Kingdom, the issues that they highlight will resonate with others elsewhere in the world. Fundamentally, though, and the reason for this article, most companies featured in the “In Court” articles are predominately small to medium enterprises (SMEs). SMEs are categorized as those that employ up to but no more than 249 people.

It is now more than 40 years since the implementation of the Health and Safety at Work Etc. Act 1974, the United Kingdom’s primary workplace safety legislation. Since that time, we have gone through factory inspectors with clipboards, workplace regulatory compliance, behavior-based safety, targeted measures, cardinal rules, curves, and doing things differently, in addition to spending millions on courses, books, lectures, journals, magazines, and pretty much anything else we can think of to keep the wolf away from the workplace safety door.

Considering this and the information provided by the online magazine further, I am reminded of the saying that usually gets trotted out when we talk about the current state of workplace accidents: “We have achieved much, but there is still so much more to do.” This is true, but, when we consider the complex and diverse range of the companies that are highlighted in the “In Court” articles gathered over this 13 year period, “still much more to do” becomes a very general, if not glib, statement, which, in reality, and if we are honest with ourselves, should now be bolstered with the additional “how, where, when, with whom, and with what.”

Read the full column here.

LinkedIn | 2 February 2017

Column: Understanding the Fundamentals of Behavior-Based Safety

Behavior-based safety (BBS) or behavioral safety is the use of behavioral psychology to improve and encourage safety at work. It may be aligned with a company’s safety management system or safety observation system. Those in the industry who know about BBS usually are on either side of the fence about it; meaning they are either supportive and believe in it or just do not believe in BBS at all.

Shervan Soogrim

BBS can be effective if properly implemented. A well-designed BBS program, if not implemented correctly, only looks good on paper or presentations but will be ineffective. Implementation can be challenging, as I have come to know myself recently.

Management support and buy-in of the BBS program is key for it to be successfully implemented. Furthermore, to show management’s commitment, we should take responsibility to communicate the program throughout the organization and to be involved as well.

This brings me to communication; the BBS program should be communicated to all levels of the organization and to all departments, not only the technical and operation departments. How it is communicated is also key. Several channels and methods should be used, with some targeting specific departments.

Read the full column here.

ProAct Safety | 27 January 2017

Column: BBS—Silver Bullet or Outdated Thinking?

Behavior-based safety, or BBS, has its disciples and its critics. It has been called the silver bullet of safety, and it has also been labeled as yesterday’s thinking. Based on the evidence, it is neither. If it were really a silver bullet, the organizations using it would be accident-free. If it were truly old and dead, it would have been abandoned by previous users and would not be attracting new ones. So, if BBS is neither magic nor dead, what is it? The answer to this question depends heavily on how you use it.

Although virtually all things called BBS attempt to address safety-related behaviors, they address different behaviors in different ways. Some processes attempt to address many or all behaviors, while others focus on a critical few. Some overlap with rules and procedures, while others only address discretionary behaviors. Some attempt to stop at-risk behaviors, while others attempt to encourage safe behaviors or precautions. Some are based on the old thinking of behaviorism, while others have adopted methods from the more advanced behavioral sciences and other approaches to human behavior and culture.

All these have one commonality: If they replace other more traditional safety efforts, they inevitably fail; and, if they support and supplement other safety efforts, they often succeed. This suggests the true role of BBS is not as a magical, silver bullet but simply another tool in the safety tool box. To see how best to use such a tool, it is helpful to assess the job at hand for which the tool is going to be used. This job is safety improvement.

Maersk | 27 January 2017

Maersk Training Opens First Freefall Lifeboat Simulator

Black smoke plumes from a supply ship that is slowly sinking at the head, while a drilling rig tilts over into the sea. Between the two, a sharp-nosed orange lifeboat is navigating between steep waves as the rain pours down.

This is not real life, thankfully, but the recreation on a screen of what is going on inside a box in a corner of a classroom. The simulator at a new Maersk Training center in Esbjerg is allowing realistic, safe, and more efficient lifeboat training for offshore workers and means Maersk Oil can better prepare its staff for emergency situations.

Rather than releasing a lifeboat from height and allowing it to dive into the water—a common means of escape from offshore installations but one that risks injury to those inside—the simulator allows people to train in an accurate copy of reality that is 100% secure and is more efficient because it can be reset again and again.

“We set a high standard of technology and training to give a better learning experience,” said Frank Holst Christoffersen, managing director of Maersk Training in Esbjerg. “With this simulator, we can better train participants in different scenarios—whether rigs or ships—and in all kinds of weather conditions, and different types of incidents.”

Read the full story here.

Select International | 16 January 2017

Column: The 80/20 Rule in Safety—A Few People, A Lot of Incidents

You’ve probably heard of the 80/20 Rule many times before, or, at the very least, you’re familiar with the concept. The 80/20 Rule refers to Pareto’s Principle, or Pareto’s Law. This is basically the observation that about 80% of outcomes or results are attributable to about 20% of inputs or activities.

It’s named after the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who developed a theory and formula that described that that 20% of the people in Italy owned 80% of the wealth. Following this, Joseph M. Juran attributed the 80/20 Rule to Pareto in the 1940’s and called it Pareto’s Principle. It has since been applied to many fields of study, including economics, business, science, and sports.

Perhaps you have experienced this in different areas of your work or personal life, where a few things, or people, lead to the majority of outcomes (whether positive or negative). For example, have you ever felt like:

  • You spend most of your time dealing with problems or issues related to just a few of your projects, employees or customers
  • During training sessions or classes, most of the discussion comes from just a few participants
  • Most of your team’s productivity comes from a small number of your team members
  • The majority of your company’s profits come from just a handful of “big” customers

We’ve all experienced these types of situations, where the 80/20 Rule seems to accurately describe the biggest sources that contribute to the results and outcomes that we observe. But what is interesting is the idea that this could apply to workplace injuries. Specifically, the majority of a company’s safety incidents being incurred by just a small proportion of the workforce, and, more importantly, a small number of employees involved in multiple incidents.

US Department of Labor | 3 January 2017

Column: Worker Safety, a Sustainability Essential

When you think about “sustainability,” what comes to mind? Energy consumption, emissions reductions, polar bears, recycling, the triple bottom line? Most commonly, it is a concept that has been associated with the environmental effects of activities and decisions, but sustainability is about more than being green; it is also about people.

Through sustainability, organizations strive to balance the three P’s—people, profit, planet—to achieve long-term success and viability. Organizations of all sizes across the country and around the world have embraced sustainability as a way to showcase their values, measure effects and outcomes, and increase their competitive advantage.

Organizations cannot be sustainable without protecting the safety, health, and welfare of their most vital resource: workers. Currently, workplace safety and health may be acknowledged in sustainability strategies, but its importance is rarely emphasized. Integrating safety and health into these innovative and proactive strategies provides a transformative opportunity to achieve a truly sustainable organization.

Consistent and reliable metrics are one critical part of this transformation. In sustainability, everyone knows that what is important gets measured and what is measured gets done. Without the integration of consistent and reliable safety and health metrics into sustainability strategies, any discussion of these issues is just lip service. Efforts, such as those by the Center for Safety and Health Sustainability, are paving the way for occupational safety and health and sustainability professionals to measure and report more effectively on safety and health progress.

Embracing safety and health as a cornerstone of sustainability is good for workers and good for business. A stronger commitment to safety and health can benefit workers by decreasing the number of illnesses, injuries, and fatalities; increasing their engagement and satisfaction; and enabling them to be productive participants in the organization and their communities. When emphasizing the safety, health, and welfare of workers, businesses also see benefits in decreased costs associated with workers’ compensation payments, training, and recruitment; increased productivity and quality; and improved reputational and financial performance.

In the US, occupational illnesses, injuries, and fatalities cost the economy an estimated USD 200 billion annually. This provides a tremendous impetus for innovative strategies and industry leadership for advancing workplace protections and enhancing organizational performance by leveraging the power of the sustainability movement. Integrating safety and health into sustainability strategies can transform an organization into one that strives to protect the environment for future generations, ensures long-term economic viability, and allows all people to thrive.

Read about sustainability from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration here.

David Michaels is the current assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. John Henshaw served as the assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health from 2001 to 2004.

PSA | 28 December 2017

PSA Audits Knarr FPSO, Finds Nonconformities

Norway’s Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) has carried out an audit of Shell’s management of the integrity of flexible risers, transfer lines and associated safety equipment on the Knarr floating production, storage, and offloading (FPSO) vessel.

The audit revealed nonconformities relating to

  • Overpressure protection of gas export pipeline
  • Follow-up of overpressure protection performance requirements
  • Passive fire protection
  • Follow-up of flexible pipelines

The companies have been given a deadline of 1 February 2017 to report on how the nonconformities will be dealt with and how the improvement points will be assessed.

Daily Record | 26 December 2016

Survey: Offshore Workers Believe Safety Standards Have Fallen

A poll of offshore oil and gas workers found more than half (58%) believe health and safety standards have dropped in the last 6 months.

Credit: Getty.

Credit: Getty.

The survey of around 780 workers, carried out by the union Unite, found just 4% of respondents believed health and safety improvements had been made while 38% said they had seen no change.

Unite said a little more than a third of respondents felt they were unable to report concerns due to fears of victimization.

The union is calling for an industry whistle-blower helpline so workers can raise concerns.

Unite regional officer William Wallace said, “Companies should never make cuts that threaten health and safety and put the lives of our members at risk. The lessons of Piper Alpha should never be forgotten.

“We will be calling on the industry to work with health and safety bodies, with the trade unions, and with government so that we can get a confidential helpline created.

“No worker should feel victimized for raising these issues. The consequences could be catastrophic.”

Reuters | 7 December 2016

Statoil Drops Airbus Super Puma Helicopters for Good

Norwegian state-controlled oil company Statoil will not resume using Airbus’s H225 Super Puma helicopters even if Norway’s Civil Aviation Authority decides to lift a ban imposed after a fatal crash off Norway in April, the company said on 6 December.

Spectators watch a Super Puma helicopter operating in a mock search and rescue operation during a show marking the Hellenic Air Force's Patron Saint celebration, on the southern suburb of Faliro, in Athens, Greece, 6 November 2016. Credit: Reuters/Alkis Konstantinidis.

Spectators watch a Super Puma helicopter operating in a mock search and rescue operation during a show marking the Hellenic Air Force’s Patron Saint celebration, on the southern suburb of Faliro, in Athens, Greece, 6 November 2016. Credit: Reuters/Alkis Konstantinidis.

Recent models of Super Puma, a workhorse of the offshore oil industry, were banned from commercial traffic in Norway and Britain following the accident that killed 13 oil workers flying from a Norwegian offshore oil platform operated by Statoil.

“We have no plans to use this helicopter ever again, even if the Norwegian authorities decide to lift the ban”, Statoil spokesman Morten Eek said.

“It doesn’t matter what the Aviation Authority says. We can specify the helicopter type we want to use, and we have already built up capacity with a different helicopter, the Sikorsky S-92,” he added.

The announcement comes after unions representing oil workers expressed concern about the H225 helicopter and asked for a permanent ban.

The helicopter that crashed in April was working for Statoil and operated by Canada-based group CHC Helicopter.

Norwegian investigators have said in preliminary findings a technical fault caused the Super Puma’s main rotor blades to spin away from the aircraft, killing everyone on board.

Drilling Contractor | 6 December 2016

BSEE, Industry Continue Efforts To Prevent Bolt, Connector Failures on Safety-Critical Subsea Equipment

Beginning with a safety alert issued in February, the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has continued to place increasing attention on subsea bolt and connector failures in safety-critical subsea equipment.

BSEE is aware of 10 incidents of bolt and connector failure in safety-critical subsea equipment, going as far back as 2003. Instances of bolt failure have involved H4 connector bolts in the lower marine riser package, hydraulic connector bolts, and blind shear ram actuators. The regulator is currently working with the industry to gather data to determine if additional incidents have occurred.

BSEE is aware of 10 incidents of bolt and connector failure in safety-critical subsea equipment, going as far back as 2003. Instances of bolt failure have involved H4 connector bolts in the lower marine riser package, hydraulic connector bolts, and blind shear ram actuators. The regulator is currently working with the industry to gather data to determine if additional incidents have occurred.

The regulator formed an Interagency Bolt Action team in July, then held a forum on 29 August in Washington, DC, dedicated to the issue. Through these and other investigative efforts, BSEE Director Brian Salerno said, the regulator hopes to gain a better understanding of the causes of bolt failures, how they might be related, and how they can be prevented.

“This is an issue that we have to understand and make sure that whatever corrective measures are identified are put in place,” Director Salerno said. “No one wants to run the risk of a catastrophic failure, and this is something we can get ahead of.”

Reuters | 30 November 2016

Norway To Investigate Oil Industry Safety After Accidents Rise

Norway will appoint a public commission to look into the safety of the country’s offshore oil and gas industry following a recent string of accidents, the government said on 29 November.

As falling oil prices force companies to cut spending, unions and Norway’s safety watchdog have warned cost cutting could affect safety.

“There have been several serious incidents in the last year. The Petroleum Safety Authority has also raised the question of whether security is at a crossroads,” Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Anniken Hauglie said in a statement.

Cost cuts and other efficiency measures must not be allowed to have a negative effect on safety, she added, echoing statements made by Norway’s Petroleum Safety Authority.

“This trend (of rising number of incidents) has to be shifted now. We really need improvements in order to avoid new accidents, new injuries … ,” Petroleum Safety Authority chief Anne Myhrvold told an industry conference.

Business Wire | 23 November 2016

Total Safety Named Recipient of 2016 Texas Oil and Gas Awards Excellence in Health and Safety

Total Safety US, the world’s premier provider of industrial inspection and integrated safety solutions, was honored with the fourth annual Award for Excellence in Health and Safety—Operational in the 2016 Texas Oil and Gas Awards. Total Safety was recognized for implementing consistent safety practices at all locations.

“We are excited and honored by the recognition and especially the acknowledgement of this critical program led by our HSE Director Steve Long to extend the high standards of OSHA’s VPP STAR Program to all our in-plant service centers (IPSCs) that might not otherwise be eligible for the OSHA VPP Program,” said Total Safety’s president, Troy Thacker.