Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Safety Triangle Explained

In 1969, a study of industrial accidents was undertaken by Frank E. Bird, Jr., who was then the Director of Engineering Services for the Insurance Company of North America. He was interested in the accident ratio of 1 major injury to 29 minor injuries to 300 no-injury accidents first discussed in the 1931 book, Industrial Accident Prevention by. H. W. Heinrich.

Since Mr. Heinrich estimated this relationship and stated further that the ratio related to the occurrence of a unit group of 330 accidents of the same kind and involving the same person, Mr. Bird wanted to determine what the actual reporting relationship of accidents was by the entire average population of workers. H.W. Heinrich’s classic safety pyramid is now considered the foremost illustration of types of employee injuries.

There Bird analyzed 1,753,498 accidents reported by 297 cooperating companies. These companies represented 21 different industrial groups, employing 1,750,000 employees who worked over 3 billion hours during the exposure period analyzed. The study revealed the following ratios in the accidents reported:

For every reported major injury (resulting in fatality, disability, lost time or medical treatment), there were 9.8 reported minor injuries (requiring only first aid). For the 95 companies that further analyzed major injuries in their reporting, the ratio was one lost time injury per 15 medical treatment injuries.

Forty-seven percent of the companies indicated that they investigated all property damage accidents and eighty-four percent stated that they investigated major property damage accidents. The final analysis indicated that 30.2 property damage accidents were reported for each major injury.

Part of the study involved 4,000 hours of confidential interviews by trained supervisors on the occurrence of incidents that under slightly different circumstances could have resulted in injury or property damage. Analysis of these interviews indicated a ratio of approximately 600 incidents for every reported major injury.

In referring to the 1-10-30-600 ratio detailed in a pyramid it should be remembered that this represents accidents reported and incidents discussed with the interviewers and not the total number of accidents or incidents that actually occurred.

Bird continues, as we consider the ratio, we observe that 30 property damage accidents were reported for each serious or disabling injury. Property damage incidents cost billions of dollars annually and yet they are frequently misnamed and referred to as "near-accidents”. Ironically, this line of thinking recognizes the fact that each property damage situation could probably have resulted in personal injury. This term is a holdover from earlier training and misconceptions that led supervisors to relate the term "accident" only to injury.

The 1-10-30-600 relationships in the ratio indicate clearly how foolish it is to direct our major effort only at the relatively few events resulting in serious or disabling injury when there are so many significant opportunities that provide a much larger basis for more effective control of total accident losses.

It is worth emphasizing at this point that the ratio study was of a certain large group of organizations at a given point in time. It does not necessarily follow that the ratio will be identical for any particular occupational group or organization. That is not its intent. The significant point is that major injuries are rare events and that many opportunities are afforded by the more frequent, less serious events to take actions to prevent the major losses from occurring. Safety leaders have also emphasized that these actions are most effective when directed at incidents and minor accidents with a high loss potential.

There is always a large variation between the most serious and no claim incident, as shown in both pyramids.

In 2003, ConocoPhillips Marine conducted a similar study demonstrating a large difference in the ratio of serious accidents and near misses. The study found that for every single fatality there are at least 300,000 at-risk behaviors, defined as activities that are not consistent with safety programs, training and components on machinery. These behaviors may include bypassing safety components on machinery or eliminating a safety step in the production process that slows down the operator. With effective machine safeguarding and training, at-risk behaviors and near misses can be diminished. This also reduces the chance of the fatality occurring, since there is a lower frequency of at-risk behaviors. The variation can be explained by distance or time – for example, the injury was missed by one second or by one inch. Machine safety can make a material. The difference in widening the variation, favorably impacting frequency and severity of claims and, therefore, workers’ compensation premiums.

Back Injury Prevention Tips

It is often said that in order to lift safely, you must lift properly.  We have been told to “Bend with your knees, not your back” and “Don’t twist as you lift” and as hard as we try, sometimes this good advice goes against human nature.  Yet, there are actions that you can take to help you lift properly.

1.       Get as close to the load as possible

-        The further the load is from the center line of your body, the greater the strain imposed on your back.  If need be, squat down to lift the load and pull it between your legs.  This gets it closer to the center of your body and helps prevent the need to bend at the waist.  However, since your leg muscles are the largest muscles in your body, they are also the biggest energy consumers.  Repeated squatting can be very fatiguing, and reduces a person’s ability to lift in this manner for any length of time.

2.       Avoid picking up heavy objects placed below your knees

-        Try to see that heavy objects are placed and stored above knee level and below shoulder level.  If you suspect that the load is too heavy to be lifted comfortably, do not chance it.  Use a mechanical aid, break the load down to its component parts, or get help.  The most common cause of back injury is over exertion.

3.       Keep your back straight

-         This means don’t bend at the waist when reaching to lift an object.  Keep the natural arch in your lower back, which distributes the load evenly over the surface of spinal disks, and is less stressful than if the disk is pinched between vertebras.  Bending principally from the hips is acceptable if you maintain the arch in our back, rather than bending at the waist.

4.       Glue your hand to your thigh

-        If you carry a load in one hand, such as when carrying a tool box, place your free hand on the outside of your thigh and mentally “glue” it into position.  This will help you maintain correct back alignment rather than lifting and tilting to one side.  When carrying a heavy load, side bending can be just as stressful to the spine as bending forward.

5.       Tighten your stomach muscles

-        This technique helps prevent your spine from twisting.  If you lift a load and need to place it off to one side, turn by moving your feet.  After repeated lifts you might find yourself getting a bit sloppy and forgetting to move your feet.  You can overcome this tendency if the place you set the load down is at least one step away from where it is lifted.

6.       Stay in good physical condition

-        A protruding stomach is an extra load carried away from the centerline of the body, and prevents you from keeping a lifted object close – the number one rule for back care.  When you bend at the waist to lift, due to the leverage principle, the load is up to 10 times heavier than its actual rate.

7.       Stretch and loosen up before work

-        Research has shown that trunk flexibility and mobility is significantly lower in the morning than later in the day, increasing the number and severity of back strains at this time.  A few minutes of stretching can warm up cold stiff muscles and tendons and help you avoid an injury.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Oxy-Acetylene Use

It is not unusual to find cutting torches with oxygen and acetylene tanks in an industrial setting.  These gasses are flammable, noxious and lethal in fatal doses.  The following guidelines will protect workers from risks associated with working around Oxy-Acetylene:

Review your work area before starting work:

-        Identify and discuss any compressed gasses in the area. Ensure all persons know how and where they are stored including bottles, lines valves and hoses.

-        Ensure any bottles are stored and secured properly in an upright position.

-        Never allow persons to vent dangerous gasses inside a building.

-        Oxygen must be stored away from flammables, grease and oil products. All bottles to be labeled including empty ones.

Pre-Use Safety Checks

-        Check regulators for damage before use.

-        Ensure valves are shut off before installing on bottle.

-        Inspect all hoses before use.

Safe Operation of Oxy-Acetylene torches

-        Transport secured bottles with a hand truck

-        Open valves and regulators slowly

-        If bottle valves leak, take outdoors and slowly empty the bottle.

-        Do not smoke near compressed gas bottles.

-        Never rely on the color of a cylinder for identification.

-        Always follow established safe trade practices including lighting and use of the cutting torch.

-        Never attempt to repair a cylinder or valve.

-        Shut the cylinder valves off when not in use.

-        Never fully open cylinder valves.

-        NEVER store acetylene on its side.

-        Do not bleed cylinders below 25 psi.

-        Never move a bottle with the valve open.

-        Never store empty and full bottles together.

-        Use safety glasses or a face shield when handling or connecting gas cylinders.

-        Never drag or roll bottles.

-        It is recommended to install a flashback arrestor with built-in check valve in both the oxygen and the acetylene hose lines.  These safety devices should be tested frequently for leakage at the check valve and replaced after any violent flashback.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Effective Toolbox Talks

Communicating an Effective Toolbox Talk

To ensure effective toolbox talks, you want to ensure that all workers participate and are engaged in the toolbox talk.  The following guidelines should be helpful

Know and Understand the Material being Delivered

-        Review the toolbox talk before the meeting. Anticipate what questions may be asked and pre-think your answers.

-        This will also help reduce any awkward feelings while reading the information for the first time in front of workers.

-        It is always a good idea to use relative examples that relate to the work environment. This will ensure workers relate what you are saying to the work they are doing.

Ensure all Employees are Present and Accounted for

-        Pay attention to possible side conversations. Be prepared to interrupt in order to set the tone and keep everyone on task.

-        Employees receive no benefit if they show up in the middle of a toolbox talk.  Use your authority to ensure that employees are responsible for attending the toolbox talk on time.


-        A great technique to engage your listeners is to ask questions and especially ask workers directly to give you examples of what you are talking about. NEVER tell an employee who was brave enough to answer a question that they were wrong. Its much better to tell them they are partly on track and give a complete answer.

-        It is also very effective to use personal examples of things you have seen or read about.

Stay Calm

-        If you get asked a question that you don’t know the answer to, tell everyone that you will get an answer and get back to them on your next crewtalk.

Continuous Improvement – Identify Bad Habits You May Have

-        Do you sway back and forth nervously?

-        Do you stare at only one person?

-        Do you avoid direct eye contact with everyone?

-        Do you speak too quietly for everyone to hear you properly?

-        Or are you too aggressive in your approach?

-   Relate information directly towards field activities
-   Ensure your message is clear and understood
-   Provide questions and answers
-   Encourage group interaction but keep them on track
-   Take your time. Do not rush a toolbox talk.
-   Always identify who their immediate supervisors are and explain that all issues should go through their supervisors first and foremost before being taken to others.

Heavy Equipment - Proximity Hazards

Included in any risk assessment on large construction projects is the hazard of workers and equipment working in proximity to each other, especially in congested areas. Controls include elimination of proximity hazards whenever possible and when equipment absolutely has to work in the same area as people or other equipment, then administrative policies must address the issues, as follows:

Before entering within a congested area:

  1. Secure the area. No unauthorized person permitted inside the barricades. Post a sentry and ensure he knows his job.
  2. Driving on roads:  Stay on your side of the road and follow the rules of the road. Stop at intersections. Drive at a safe speed.  Do not take unnecessary risks.
  3. Know where personnel and equipment are and know what they are doing and going to do.  The key to this is to get each other’s attention and get acknowledgement before one or the other suddenly does something unexpected.
  4. Ensure adequate direct supervision to ensure that hazards are controlled. The function of supervisors is to plan, lead, control and organize the work being performed.  They are expected to assess competency, designate who is authorized to operate equipment and communicate with workers re hazards.
  5. Do not exceed the capacity of the equipment. Follow manufacturers written instructions.
  6. Only competent and qualified operators are permitted to operate equipment and work on site.
  7. FLRAs (Field Level Risk Assessments) are to be filled out and signed by the whole crew at the start of each shift and reviewed whenever site conditions change. 
  8. Ensure adequate inspection and maintenance of the equipment.  Operators are required to fill out a log book at the start of each shift. Safety Personnel are required to regularly check log books and maintenance records.
  9. Report unsafe acts or conditions, near misses, incidents and injuries to your supervisor immediately.
  10. Wear seatbelts and follow site Safety Rules.
  11. If you have questions, comments, suggestions, near misses or incidents, report them to your supervisor immediately.

Safety Culture

Safety Bulletin

Safety Culture

Q.  What is a Safety Culture?

1.     A safe work environment

2.     What workers think of safety

3.     What management does for safety

4.     None of the above

Short Answer:  None of the above.

Long Answer:  A Safety Culture is far broader and more holistic than any of the above and involves every person on the job along with their core values, beliefs, attitudes, behaviours and rituals.  In fact, every workplace has a safety culture… whether it is good or bad.

In the never ending pursuit for productivity, quality and safety, it’s the safety culture that levels the playing field.

A safety culture is always evolving and the dynamics change with every thought, comment, observation and action.  It starts at the top and it starts at the bottom and it draws the line between what is acceptable and what isn’t.

A Safety Culture finds its roots in the history of every person on the job but it finds its wings in their desire to participate in continuous improvement.  At the top, leadership must do its part by being proactive, establishing consistent values and expectations and by holding people accountable. At the bottom,  workers need to protect and share the values with each other and participate with management in always improving the safety culture in a never ending process. 

To this end, XXXX co. is actively pursuing a positive safety culture and enjoys cultivating a positive safety culture with our workers.  Our values are as follows:

Safety First- We ensure a safe, healthy work environment and a ‘zero injury’ culture

Trust and Candor-  We conduct ourselves professionally, with candor, respect, integrity and ethical responsibility.

Passion For Excellence- Through innovation and continuous improvement, we always strive to find a better way, and to do it right the first time – every time.

Learning Culture- We always strive to develop the full potential of our people and our company – we never stop trying to improve.

Results- We have a ‘do whatever it takes’ attitude, focused on customer expectations, individual and team results.

With that in mind, we look forward to your active participation in our safety culture.  Please examine your core values, beliefs, attitudes, behaviours and rituals and work with us in this process of continuous improvement.

Slips, Trips and Falls

Slips, Trips and Falls

Falls from Heights

…the key is to remember that every inch higher you go in elevation, the more caution you should use.
This classification includes falling from waist height (ie. off of transfers, stairs, equipment cabs, etc) to roof and bin heights and everything in between.  Access is usually from stairs, ladders or mobile work platforms and the key is to remember that every inch higher you go in elevation, the more caution you should use.  Remember that site safety rules require personal fall protection anytime you are exposed to a fall of more than 1.5 metres (6’).  Fall protection permits are used to ensure compliance with safety rules.  We use “Fall Restraint” to keep you from falling in the first place and “Fall Arrest” which stops you between the elevation and the ground.

Remember to go up and down steps, stairways and ladders safely, using handrails and handles as necessary. Let us know if lighting becomes an issue in your work area.

Falls Through Openings

This can’t happen to me.  Think again!  This is an all-too-common event in industrial situations. Be aware of openings in your work area and help us ensure they are properly guarded or covered.

Slips/Trips - Falls on the Same Elevation

It doesn’t sound easy to fall on the same elevation but the fact is that this one of the leading accident causes.  Statistics show that the majority (60 percent) of falls happen on the same elevation resulting from slips and trips.  The key is to think about where your feet are and watch for things that could cause you to stumble or slip.

- Housekeeping:  Keep safe walking areas safe by keeping them clear and wiping up spills.

- Carrying things:  Make sure you can see where you are walking.


Accidents are caused.
Accidents can be prevented if the causes are eliminated.
Unless the causes are eliminated, accidents can happen again.