The 10% of safety that matters
Coal Mining Safety and Health legislation
Queensland Workplace Health and Safety
Here at NoBS Safety we take a fresh view on safety.
We are going to look at some things from a different angle:
I'm a fitter with over 40 years in the workforce, mostly in the coal mining industry. I've got some fancy qualifications, most of which I'm not particularly impressed by. During that time I've become interested in WHY things are done rather than how they are done. Below are some of my observations:
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"A source of potentially damaging energy." (Wigglesworth)
There are many other definitions, but this one makes the most sense to me because it contains the word energy. I base the whole process on energy, so best it be defined.
The ability to perform work.
To follow this to its logical conclusion, every time work is done, a hazard is created. You may have a different view, but you are employed to do work, so every time you do what you are paid to do, you create a hazard. Hazards are everywhere. Also hazards don't hurt anyone, other stuff needs to happen.
Following on from this, the hazard increases as the energy increases. Therefore, if you work with high voltage, large mobile equipment or under millions of tonnes of rock, you are in a highly hazardous situation.
The terms and definitions used here are the ones I've found most beneficial over ten years in training risk management.
"The chance of something happening that will have an impact on objectives. Risk may have a positive or negative impact. Risk is measured in terms of a combination of the consequences of an event and their likelihood."
The one I find most useful in describing the process is:
"The probability of exposure to a defined consequence."
So from here, we will take the view that risk has an upside (potential opportunities) and a downside (adverse effects).
Risk can be measured in various ways. I will use the definitions from the Coal Mining Safety and Health Act (CMSHA) because they are the ones I'm familiar with and are most workable ones I've encountered.
Section 29 What is an acceptable level of risk
(1) For risk to a person from coal mining operations to be at an acceptable level, the operations must be carried out so that the level of risk from the operations is—
(a) within acceptable limits; and
(b) as low as reasonably achievable.
On reading this you may say "yeah, but what does it mean?"
Acceptable limits means exactly that, what people are willing to accept. What people do rather than what they say is a better indicator of whether it is acceptable or not. Here are some examples:
As low as reasonably achievable
This means basically "can we afford it". Safety is all about money, production, budgets!!!! This is the real world. An organisation makes decisions all the time where it balances people's well being against the cost.
"An existing process, policy, device, practice or other action that acts to minimize negative risk or enhance positive opportunities."
Stuff you do to reduce risk.
Controls are the business end of the process. When a hazard is under control, the risk from that hazard is as low as reasonably achievable.
Hierarchy of controls
This is a method of determining the order of implementing controls. It starts with the most effective (elimination) and goes thru to least effective (PPE). See HERE for more details