Archive for June, 2015


Construction Workers Safety Must Not Be An After Thought

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Construction workers account for a majority of work-related fatalities, sickness, workers’ compensation claims, and claims requiring one or more weeks off work. Research has shown that decisions made by key personnel early in the life of a construction project can greatly reduce these incidences. Data was collected from 228 interviews conducted from 23 construction projects in Australia, New Zealand, and USA, and the interviews explored the way project decisions were made.

It was found that when the contractors and sub-contractors were included in pre-construction project and safety decisions, more effective safety controls were implemented. While this seems obvious, the problem is in the way construction is done – often the various stages of construction are implemented by various sub-contractors, at various time intervals. This causes a problem in communication as these sub-contractors my not be available when key decisions are made. To read more regarding the importance of who makes key decisions and when they make them in terms of construction worker safety, read more here…

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Building Safety Month Week One: Don’t Get Burned – Build To Code

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

The need for safe and sustainable homes and structures where we live, work, and play are important factors for every community. May is Building Safety Month, and this public awareness campaign is presented by the International Code Council and it’s members of building professionals worldwide. This year’s theme is Resilient Communities Start with Building Codes, and each week a different topic is covered. For week one it was “Don’t Get Burned – Build To Code”, which focuses on smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, sprinklers, and passive fire-rated construction practices, as well as creating escape planes and avoiding careless smoking habits.

Building codes are based on science, technical knowledge and past experiences that provide buildings protection from man-made and natural disasters, they guard public health, and they reduce property losses. Building codes have been protecting communities for literally thousands of years with the earliest code dating back to circa 2200 B.C. To read more about Building Safety Month, and the various aspects of safety codes covered, please click here…

Tree Holes: Hazards or Harmless

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

Pay attention to the trees on your property, because failing to do so can result in expensive property damage, injuries or even death. Trees that are considered hazardous can have limbs break or the whole tree can fall to the ground during storms and high winds. Fortunately, there are indications that a tree is hazardous long before it causes damage. Warning signs include cracks in the trunks and major limps, hollows and areas that are decaying, and the presence of dead wood. Mushrooms growing from the base may indicate root decay; but be cautious as this is not always the case.

Activities such as removing or adding soil, digging or the use of heavy equipment under the spread of the trees branches can cause root death, and this should be noted because the tree can become unstable as a result. One of the most revealing clues that a tree is changing is the formation of a hollow and a professional should be consulted regarding cavity filling as it may not be necessary. To read more regarding safety around hazardous trees, please click here…

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Santa Barbara Spill: U.S. Pipelines Need Better Safety Testing

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

In Santa Barbara, an underground pipeline ruptured and spilled approximately 105,000 gallons of oil that spilled across nine miles of wildlife and beaches. Plains All American Pipeline was responsible for this operation, and it is worth nothing that his company has the fifth worst safety record of the 1,700 oil companies that operate in the USA. Pipeline accidents are common, with over 100 significant spills yearly, and that number does not include the smaller ones resulting from cracks and breaks in the pipelines.

Pointing the finger at these accidents that cost billions of dollars in damage and destroy the health and well being of people and wildlife, is the fact the oil industry seems to be more concerned with profits then the safety of the public who live in close proximity to their pipelines. Also contributing is poor emergency plans, response time and government oversight. In March, federal regulators proposed the Hazardous Liquids Integrity Verification Process, which would require safety testing of almost half the nation’s pipelines – the oil and pipeline industries are lobbying against this. To read more about this environmental concern, please click here…

Commentary: Electrical Contact A Serious Safety Issue

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

Jeff Koeppel an electrical and lighting contractor, shares with us in his article the many reasons why we should never become complacent regarding electricity. This energy resource has been around for more then 100 years, and taking it for granted can result in serious injury and even death. In an attempt to prevent harm when working with electricity there are OSHA requirements and NEC standards that should be never be ignored, and short-cuts to save time or money should never be implemented.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that contact with overhead power lines was the largest fatal accident category, and contact with transformers or other electrical components was the second-largest. Coming in third on the list was contact with the electrical current of machines, tools, appliances or light fixtures. These injuries are serious and life-changing with the possibility of brain damage, neural damage, broken bones and others. To read more of what Koeppel says regarding electricity safety management, please click here…
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New “Locatable Rope” from 3M’s Electronic Marker System Enables Better Detection of Plastic Pipes

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

3M is proud to announce a new Locatable Rope that offers better detection than the current industry standard. The Electronic Marker System (EMS) 7000 series uses proprietary 3M path marking technology that delivers accurate and reliable tracking of underground plastic pipe and fiber optic conduit – the EMS Rope 7000 Series offers superior detection of problems commonly faced by utilities. It is easily installed alongside underground pipes and will continue to transmit a signal, even in the event of a cut or removal of a segment.

3M conducted EMS Rope field tests with a Columbia Gas of Virginia installation in Fredericksburg, Va, and the workers found the EMS Rope very easy to install, and the reliability top notch. Columbia Gas plans to install the EMS Rope in projects totaling nearly 30 miles. To read the complete release of this product and to find out more about 3M technology, please click here…

What was Duke Energy thinking? Why it didn’t inspect the aging pipes at Dan River plant.

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

Spending $20,000 on a video pipe inspection could have saved Duke Energy $19 million dollars in repairs and remediation bills at the Dan River site in Virginia, as well as $102 in fines and other penalties due to the ash spill in 2014. Despite repeated requests from a senior project engineer and a program engineer to run a video inspection through four sixty year old pipes, the requests were denied.

The plan was to close the ash basin in 2013, but when the funding was denied for the inspections, an employee sent an email to the program engineer stating that, because they had to submit a plan one year before the close, and because they had not even started that, the employee did not feel the basins would close as planned and to reconsider. Duke Energy says it has learned it’s lessons from this costly mistake and is now taking more initiative to listen to employees and give them more say in decisions. There were many other factors at play with this disaster and you can click here to read the complete article…

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Understanding Locators 101

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

Digging in a job site requires careful consideration before the work commences. The ground underneath us is more contested then ever with utility lines, and so precautions must be taken to ensure there will be no costly or fatal mistakes. The first step to take before you dig is to call your states one call office and arrange for a one call contractor to check the site for utilities. While this is an important first step, sometimes the marks are not as accurate as needed, or there are privately owned lines that the contractor may be unaware of – these incidences will cost you time and money.

A solution that will save you time and money in the end is to invest in utility locating equipment. This equipment can double check the one call contractors work as well as find utilities that may have been missed. Locators work similar to when you tune into a radio, each utility sends off a different signal which the locator then picks up. These locators are not just for large contractors either, landscapers and smaller contractors that are working on private property have to be diligent watching for utility lines as well. Click here to read more about the different type of locating methods and equipment, as well as things you should consider when purchasing your locating equipment…

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10 Years Later: BP Texas City And The Inevitable Cost Of An Incident

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

In March of 2005, an explosion took 15 lives, and caused 180 injuries at the Texas City refinery run by BP. Investigations pointed to malfunctioning and deteriorating equipment, poorly trained workers and cuts in operating budgets. This particular incident was not an isolated case, with the refinery having 23 deaths in the last 30 years, as well as similar malfunctions in the same equipment in the past resulting in no investigations.

It is not like BP did not have some kind of safety program in place, but the focus was on employee behaviors like wearing safety glasses and being mindful of leaving trip hazards, but there was little focus on process safety systems and activities. Analyzing all the information available regarding this blast tells us that production was put ahead of personal safety, and in fact, in order to make this refinery safe would require shutting down the plant for an extended period which of course would have been hard to accommodate at many levels. To read the detailed article by PlanetEngineering.com regarding this incident, please click here…

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Ensuring Pipeline Physical And Cyber Security

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

Mechanical failures are always a concern when it comes to the network of pipelines, across the U.S. and Canada, that transport oil and natural gas. Another concern is cyberattacks, and while no such attacks have been reported on U.S. soil, there have been attacks in other countries that have resulted in pipeline ruptures and explosions. If it can happen in other countries, it can happen here and those responsible for the oil and gas industry and under prepared.

Cyberattacks are in fact increasing worldwide, and they are being detected, but unfortunately the detection time can be as many as 200 days, and often by that time the damage is done. Officials are not sure what the motivation is behind these attacks, but they say that the information these hackers gather may be used to launch even more dangerous attacks, or possibly are a type of industrial espionage. To find out more about this growing concern in the oil and gas industry, click here…

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