April 5, 2006 | Ken Reed

When Safety Isn’t Safe

Many interesting discussions occur during Summits, often outside of the scheduled sessions. One discussion focussed on some recent accidents and their common links.

One conversation described how safety equipment can actually become a hazard. Imagine clipping in your fall protection to a steel railing while working 50 feet above the ocean. Now, imagine what happens when that (heavy) safety railing comes loose and falls over the side. This was the unfortunate case in a recent accident. There were several other examples of safety equipment contributing to or being the direct cause of serious injury during hazardous evolutions. Lesson learned: Make sure your safety equipment is being used as designed, under known conditions, using approved tie-off points. Not doing so may actually INCREASE the likelihood of serious injury.

Another thread focussed on communications. The lack of clear, concise communications, without a verification of understanding, can lead supervisors to expect one action, but get an entirely different result from the workforce. A crane had been positioned for a standard lift, but had been set up in a non-standard configuration. A passing supervisor questioned the operator, asking him if he had spoken to his boss. The operator assured him that he had just spoken to his boss, and there were no problems. Unfortuately, the operator did not understand that he was being asked if his boss had actually approved the configuratiion. His boss did NOT know the set-up was not normal, and therefore did not inspect the set-up. When the lift finally occured, the crane tipped (as feared by the first supervisor), resulting in serious injury. Had the initial question by the supervisor been clear, the evolution would not have gone forward.

Discussions like this occur almost continuously durig the Summit. These insights are shared by TapRooT(R) users from across the country. Where else can you find this much diverse, real-world experience in one place?

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