New book on pipeline safety has OHS lessons for all

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Hopkins Hayes Book CoverAny new book by Andrew Hopkins is a cause for excitement.  The latest book co-written with Associate Professor Jan Hayes* focusses, primarily, on two pipeline disasters in the United States but has sufficient information and thoughts for those OHS professionals outside this sector and jurisdiction.

Nightmare Pipeline Failures: Fantasy planning, black swans and integrity management” is a typically slim volume written in Plain English that benefits from the broad knowledge of its authors.  Readers of Hopkins’ early books will get all of the cross-references.  In some ways, this book can be seen as almost a case-study of Hopkins’ work on mindfulness and high-reliability organisation, as the themes of management perspectives, activity and decision-making occur repeatedly in this book. Continue reading “New book on pipeline safety has OHS lessons for all”

When safety equipment fails to be safe, nobody’s watching

Twelve months ago, some Australia media, including this blog, began reporting on safety concerns raised by the Working At Heights Association (WAHA) about the reliability and suitability of anchor points.  Australia is currently in the middle of Safe Work Australia Month and there seems to have been little progress on the issue.  A reader of SafetyAtWorkBlog provided the following summary and update of the situation:

Who checks the true safety of equipment designed to save the lives of Australian workers? Nobody in particular, it seems.

Last September, the Working At Heights Association, an industry body staffed by volunteers, revealed many of the most commonly-used roof anchors failed to meet basic safety standards. Almost a year later, the association is still battling to see rooftops made safe, despite repeated appeals for action from the OHS regulators and the absence of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

 An estimated 800,000 Australians work at height and routinely clip their harnesses onto safety anchors. A worker falls to his or her death every 12 days and WAHA chairman Michael Biddle said authorities should be concerned. Biddle told Industry Update magazine

“It’s the third highest cause of death in the workplace after motor vehicle accidents and being hit by moving objects. In most cases, regulators are more concerned in taking a reactive approach after an accident has happened.  There is a great need for an enhanced level of enforcement.   If we had an increase in penalties and stronger enforcement of standards I’m sure we would see a higher level of compliance by industry.”

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Engineering handbook progresses OHS management

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Cover of Rail Good Practice Handbook UKMany safety professionals in Australia have become so familiar with the work of James Reason that they are looking for the next big thing.  There isn’t one but there are small things that build on Reason’s work and, importantly, that of other safety theorists (the non-cheese sector) to progress safety management

Recently a colleague drew my attention to a 2013 handbook on Engineering Safety Management.  It focuses on rail engineering but has a broader safety relevance.  Both volumes of the handbook are freely available HERE.

The text may seem a little stilted and some may be turned off by the engineering focus but there is much to like and the engineering focus will seem fresh to the OHS professionals.  There is an acknowledgement of the overlap in approaches between rail safety and OHS, an overlap that is increasing in Australia. Continue reading “Engineering handbook progresses OHS management”