Most people in the workplace are already aware of what’s going on around them and the possible dangers. However, they can be even more aware. This will not be a surprise to HSE professionals and most managers because:
- Now and again, we see many intelligent and experienced people who have worked at a site for many years having “silly” accidents. It shows you that even experienced people can make seemingly “stupid” mistakes following years of doing it right.
- Most accidents occur not while doing big dangerous jobs. They occur during routine jobs with little or no perceived danger. Indeed, some accidents happen on the way to, or back from, the job.
- Many accidents nowadays are of the “silly” kind – slips, trips, falls and bumps.
Our Safety Systems Already Help People Build Hyper-Awareness
For example, risk assessments, pre-job talks and time-outs-for-safety will help people become more aware. These tools are great, but we need something more. To take a time out for safety, you have to see the hazard first. To avoid the bump, you have to see the potential of having it.
Hyper-awareness is not just seeing, hearing or smelling. It is becoming conscious of what does not look right, what sounds wrong and what smells bad and then working out if action is needed.
How to Help People Build Hyper-Awareness
Lectures or talks on building awareness do not work – they cannot. The best way to do this properly is through exercises based on past accidents. So, in Safety Briefing No 5 there is a short exercise you can do (and hopefully enjoy) on an accident case study.
Here is a case study to help you see how hyper-awareness can help stop accidents even when things are wrong. Read Case Study 1 and give five recommendations to prevent similar accidents happening in the future. Remember to jot down your recommendations before looking at the answers. (Note you may not know anything about drilling but that does not matter – ignore the technical bit and look for the behaviours).
Case Study 1
Before running a string of 9-5/8″ casing it was found that the Trip Tank level indicator sensor was defective. The Trip Tank pump (low pressure centrifugal) was the usual means of filling casing but could not be used owing to the faulty sensor. A 2″ 5000 PSI Hose with a Butterfly Valve attached to the end was tied into the high pressure standpipe manifold on the rig floor.
While running casing, at the appropriate point, the Floorman would insert the 2″ fill-up line into the casing and the Driller would kick-in the pump to fill pipe. On this occasion, before he had opened the valve on the end of the fill-up line, the Floorman was asked by the Tong Operator to adjust the position of the stabbing guide for the next joint. The Driller under the assumption that the valve was open eased in the mud pump.
This resulted in pressuring up the fill-up line against the closed valve and given the low volume involved caused the mud pump pressure relief valve to lift. The sudden pressure build-up and subsequent release caused the fill-up line to ‘kick’ resulting in it being ejected from the casing, striking the Floorman’s eyes and face.
Some Possible Recommendations
1. Fix the sensor
2. Better risk assessment and toolbox talk
3. Use better equipment such as top drive, Le Fleur, Tam packer or low pressure pump
4. Tie down the fill-up hose
5. Driller should not assume
6. Floormen do one job at a time
7. Tong operators do not interrupt someone who is busy
8. Communication should be better
Lessons on Hyper-Awareness
* If the job changes and you do the second risk assessment it will give you lots of technical options to do it more safely.
* We are human; we will make mistakes but notice how even if we do make the big mistake of not doing the second risk assessment our hyper-awareness can save us.
* If the driller was fully aware and did not assume – no accident.
* If the floorman was fully aware of the distraction he could have called a time out or asked the tong operator to wait – no accident.
* If the tong operator was fully aware and consciously chose not to interrupt the floorman until he had opened the valve – no accident.
Yes, there are other things we should consider such as improving planning (no spares or not enough people for the job). However, hyper-awareness would save the day. Of course, the potential danger is still there for the whole job if we don’t do the second risk assessment.
In Safety Briefing No. 6 we will analyse another case study to help develop hyper-awareness.
As always your feedback is very welcome. If there are any topics you’d like covered in future Safety Briefings, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
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