“What Can Go Wrong”

A man was airlifted with serious head injuries after an industrial accident. Paramedics were called to the scene after reports that a large gearbox had fallen on a 32-year-old worker.

Paramedics spent about an hour treating the man before he was flown to the hospital in a serious but stable condition.

The employee sustained major injuries to his head and face.

“The worker is believed to have been in the process of removing a gearbox from a heavy vehicle when it fell on him,” a spokesperson said.

An electrical fire critically burned two men as they were hooking up power to a circuit panel.

Fire fighters were dispatched to a report of two men unconscious after a flash fire. The men had been doing some electrical work, connecting the main building to the electrical panel.

“Some kind of flash fire occurred at the electrical box,” a spokesman said “It set both of the workers on fire.

They were able to exit the immediate location and roll around on the ground to put the fire out.” Both men suffered 1st and 2nd degree burns on more than 30% of their bodies.

When conducting tasks with hazards or potential hazards, ask yourself these four questions:

  • What are the hazards?
  • What are the worst possible things that could go wrong?
  • How will I deal with them?
  • What are the prudent practices, protective facilities, and equipment necessary to minimize the risk of exposure to the hazards?

This is the world’s simplest safety program. It represents the minimalist approach.

If you want to know how little you can do and “get by,” being able to answer these four questions is a good beginning point.

Can you identify the hazards that are present? Are they chemical, physical, biological, mechanical, electrical, radiation, noise, stress, or high/low pressure?

Those are life’s nine hazards and you should look for them before and during a task.

What kinds of emergency situations can you anticipate? Fires, explosions, electrical shocks, bleeding, burns, poisonings, slips and falls, spills, and natural disasters should be considered.

What about other medical emergencies and utilities failures? Are you prepared to deal with these kind of problems? Do you have written procedures describing what to do?

Do you have the necessary safety equipment and emergency equipment such as safety showers, eye wash fountains, and fire extinguishers?

What about PPE? What are the generally recognized safety practices that a reasonable person would follow before and during such a task?

It is always critical to conduct a job hazard analysis whether formal or informal.

A job hazard analysis is an exercise in detective work. Your goal is to discover the following:

  • What can go wrong?
  • What are the consequences?
  • How could it arise?
  • What are other contributing factors?
  • How likely is it that the hazard will occur?

Good hazard scenarios describe:

  • Where it is happening (environment),
  • Who or what it is happening to (exposure),
  • What precipitates the hazard (trigger),
  • The outcome that would occur should it happen (consequence), and
  • Any other contributing factors.

Rarely is a hazard a simple case of one singular cause resulting in one singular effect.

More frequently, many contributing factors tend to line up in a certain way to create the hazard. Here is an example of a hazard scenario:

In the metal shop (environment), while clearing a snag (trigger), a worker’s hand (exposure) comes into contact with a rotating pulley.

It pulls his hand into the machine and severs his fingers (consequences) quickly.

To perform a job hazard analysis, you would ask:

  • What can go wrong? The worker’s hand could come into contact with a rotating object that “catches” it and pulls it into the machine.
  • What are the consequences? The worker could receive a severe injury and lose fingers and hands.
  • How could it happen? The accident could happen as a result of the worker trying to clear a snag during operations or as part of a maintenance activity while the pulley is operating.

Obviously, this hazard scenario could not occur if the pulley is not rotating.

What are other contributing factors? This hazard occurs very quickly. It does not give the worker much opportunity to recover or prevent it once his hand comes into contact with the pulley.

This is an important factor, because it helps you determine the severity and likelihood of an accident when selecting appropriate hazard controls.

Unfortunately, experience has shown that training is not very effective in hazard control when triggering events happen quickly because humans can react only so quickly.

How likely is it that the hazard will occur? This determination requires some judgment.

If there have been “near-misses” or actual cases, then the likelihood of a recurrence would be considered high. If the pulley is exposed and easily accessible, that also is a consideration.

In the example, the likelihood that the hazard will occur is high because there is no guard preventing contact, and the operation is performed while the machine is running.

By following the steps in this example, you can organize your hazard analysis activities.

“I make the most of all that comes, and the least of all that goes.” Sara Teasdale

Thanks for the share, TO!