Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Safety Artisan. I’m Simon, your host, and today we are going to be talking about health hazard analysis.
Task 207: Health Hazard Analysis
This is task 207 in the Mil. standard, 882E approach, which is targeted for defense systems, but you will see it used elsewhere. The principles that we’re going to talk about today are widely applicable. So, you could use this standard for other things if you wish.
Topics for this Session
We’ve got a big session today so I’m going to plough straight on. We’re going to cover the purpose of the task; the description; the task helpfully defines what a health hazard is; says what health hazard analysis, or HHA, shall provide in terms of information. We talk about three specialist subjects: Hazardous materials or hazmat, ergonomics, and operating environment. Also, radiation is covered, another specialist area. Then we’ll have some commentary from myself.
Now the requirements of the standard of this task are so extensive that for the first time I won’t be quoting all of them, word for word. I’ve actually had to chop out some material, but I’ll explain that when we come to it. We can work with that but it is quite a demanding task, as we’ll see.
Let’s look at the task purpose. We are to perform and document a health hazard analysis and to identify human health hazards and evaluate what it says, materials and processes using materials, etc, that might cause harm to people, and to propose measures to eliminate the hazards or reduce the associated risks. In many respects, it’s a standard 882 type approach. We’re going to do all the usual things. However, as we shall see it, we’re going to do quite a lot more on this one.
Task Description #1
So, task description. We need to evaluate the potential effects resulting from exposure to hazards, and this is something I will come back to again and again. It’s very easy dealing in this area, particularly with hazardous materials, to get hung up on every little tiny amount of potentially hazardous material that is in the system or in a particular environment and I’ve seen this done to death so many times. I’ve seen it overdone in the UK when COSHH, a control of substance hazardous to health, came in in the military. We went bonkers about this. We did risk assessments up the ying-yang for stuff that we just did not need to worry about. Stuff that was in every office up and down the land. So, we need to be sensible about doing this, and I’ll keep coming back to that.
So, we need to do as it says; identification assessment, characterisation, control, and communicate assets in the workplace environment. And we need to follow a systems approach, considering “What’s the total impact of all these potential stressors on the human operator or maintainer?” Again, I come from a maintenance background. The operator often gets lots of attention because a) because if the operator stuffs up, you very often end up with a very nasty accident where lots of people get hurt. So, that’s a legitimate focus for a human operator of a system.
But also, a lot of organizations, the executive management tend to be operators because that’s how the organization evolves. So, sometimes you can have an emphasis on operations and maintenance and support, and other things get ignored because they’re not sexy enough to the senior management. That’s a bad reason for not looking at stuff. We need to think about the big picture, not just the people who are in control.
Task Description #2
Moving on with task description. We need to do all of this good stuff and we’re thinking about materials and components and so forth, and if they cause or contribute to adverse effects in organisms or offspring. We’re talking about genetic effects as well. Or pose a substantial present or future danger to the environment. So in 882, we are talking about environmental impact as well as human health impact. There is a there is an environmental task as well that is explicitly so.
Personally, I would tend to keep the human impact and the environmental impact separate because there are very often different laws that apply to the two. If you try and mix them together or do a sort of one size fits all analysis, you’ll frequently make life more difficult for yourself than you need to. So, I would tend to keep them separate. However, that’s not quite how the standard is written.
A Health Hazard is …
So what is a health hazard? As it says, a health hazard is a condition and it’s got to be inherent to the operation, etc, through to disposal of the system. So, it’s cradle to grave – That’s important. That’s consistent with a lot of Western law. It’s got to be capable of causing death, injury, illness, disability, or even in this standard, they’ve just reduced the job performance of personnel by exposure to physiological stresses.
Now I’m getting ahead of myself because, in Australia, health hazards can include psychological impacts as well, not just impacts on physical health. Now reduced job performance? – Are we really interested in minor stuff? Maybe not. Maybe we need to define what we mean by that. Particularly when it comes to operators or maintainers making mistakes, perhaps through fatigue that can have very serious consequences.
So, this analysis task is going to address lots of causes or factors that we typically find in big accidents and relate them to effects on human performance. Then it goes on to specify that certain specific hazards must be included chemical, physical, biological, ergonomic – for ergonomic, I would say human factors, because when you look at the standard, what we call ergonomics is much wider than the narrow definition of ergonomics that I’m used to.
Now, this is the first area that chops some material because where in a-d it says e.g. in those examples there is in effect a checklist of chemical, physical, biological, and ergonomic hazards that you need to look at. This task has its own checklist. You might recall when we talked about preliminary hazard identification, a hazard checklist is a very good method for getting broad coverage in general. Now, in this task, we have further checklists that are specific to human health. That’s something to note.
We’ve also got to think about hazardous materials that may be formed by test, operation, maintenance, disposal, or recycling. That’s very important, we’ll come back to that later. Thinking about crashworthiness and survivability issues. We’ve got to also think about it says non-ionizing radiation hazards, but in reality, we’ve got to consider ionizing as well. If we have any radioactive elements in our system and it does say that in G. So, we’ve got to do both non-ionizing and ionizing.
HHA Shall Provide Info #1
What categories of information should this health hazard analysis generate? Well, first of all, it’s got to identify hazards and as I’ve said or hinted at before, we’ve got to think about how could human beings be exposed? What is the pathway, or the conditions, or mode of operations by which a hazardous agent could come into contact with a person? I will focus on people. So, just because there is a potentially hazardous chemical present doesn’t mean that someone’s going to get hurt. I suspect if I looked around in the computer in front of me that I’m recording this on or at the objects on my desk, there are lots of materials that if I was to eat them or swallow them or ingest them in some other way would probably not do me a lot of good. But it’s highly unlikely that I’m going to start eating them so maybe we don’t need to worry about that.
HHA Shall Provide Info #2
We also need to think about the characterization of the exposure. Describing the assessment process: names of the tools or any models used; how did we estimate intensities of energy or substances at the concentrations and so on and so forth? This is one of those analyses that are particularly sensitive to the way we go about doing stuff. Indeed, in lots of jurisdictions, you will be directed as to how you should do some of these analyses and we’ll talk about that in the commentary later. So, we’ve got to include that. We’ve got to “show our working” as our teachers used to tell us when preparing us for exams.
HHA Shall Provide Info #3
We’ve got to think about severity and probability. Here the task directs us to use the standard definition tables that are found in 882. I talked about those under task 202 so I’m not going to talk about further here. Now, of course, we can, and maybe should tailor these matrices. Again, I’ve talked about that elsewhere, but if we’re not using the standard matrices and tables, then we should set out what we’ve done and why that’s appropriate as well.
HHA Shall Provide Info #4
Then finally, the mitigation strategy. We shouldn’t be doing analysis for the sake of analysis. We should be doing to say, “How can we make things better?” And in particular for health, “How can we make things acceptable?” Because health hazards very often attract absolute limits on exposure. So, questions of SFARP or ALARP or cost-benefit analysis simply may not enter into the equation. We simply may be direct to say “This is the upper limit of what you can expose a human being to. This is not negotiable.” So, that’s another important difference with this task.
Three More Topics
Now, at this point, I am just foreshadowing. We’re about to move on to talk about some different topics. First of all, in this section, we’re going to talk about three particular topics. Hazardous material or HAZMAT for short; ergonomics; and the operational environment. When we say the operational environment, it’s mainly about the people, aspects of the system, and the environment that they experience. Then after these three, we would go on to talk about radiation. There are special requirements in these three areas for HAZMAT, ergonomics, and operational environment.
HAZMAT (T207) #1
First of all, we have to deal with HAZMAT. If it’s going to appear in our system, or in the support system, we’ve got to identify the HAZMAT and characterize it. There are lots of international and national standards about how this is to be done. There’s a UN convention on hazardous materials, which most countries follow. And then there will usually be national standards as well that direct what we shall do. More on that later. So, we’ve got to think about the HAZMAT.
A word of caution on that. Certainly in Australian defence, we do HAZMAT to death because of a recent historical example of a big national scandal about people being exposed to hazardous materials while doing defence work. So, the Australian Defence Department is ultrasensitive about HAZMAT and will almost certainly mandate very onerous requirements on performing this. And whilst we might look at that go “This is nuts! This is totally over the top!” Unfortunately, we just have to get on with it because no one is going to make, I’m afraid, a sensible decision about the level of risk that we don’t have to worry about because it’s just too sensitive a topic.
So, this is one of those areas were learning from experience has actually gone a bit wrong and we now find ourselves doing far too much work looking at tiny risks. Possibly at the expense of looking at the big picture. That’s just something to bear in mind.
HAZMAT (T207) #2
So, lots of requirements for HAZMAT. In particular, we need to think about what are we going to do with it when it comes to disposal? Either disposal of consumables, worn components or final disposal of the system. And very often, the hazardous material may have become more hazardous. In that, let’s say engine or lubricating oil will probably have metal fragments in it once it’s been used and other chemical contamination, which may render it carcinogenic. So, very often we start with a material that is relatively harmless, but use – particularly over a long period of time – can alter those chemicals or introduce contaminants and make them more dangerous. So, we need to think about the full life of the system.
Ergonomics (T207) #1
Moving on to ergonomics, and this is another big topic. Now, Mil.standard 882 doesn’t address human factors, in my view, particularly well. The human factors stuff gets buried in various tasks and we don’t identify a separate human factors program with all of the interconnections that you need in order to make it fully effective. But this is one task where human factors do come in, very much so, but they are called ergonomics rather than human factors. Under this task description, we need to think about mission scenarios. We need to think about the staff who will be exposed as operators or maintainers, whatever they might be doing. We’ve got to start to characterize the population at risk.
Ergonomics (T207) #2
We’ve got to think about the physical properties of things that personnel will handle or wear and the implications that has on body weight. So, for example, there is a saying that the “Air Force and the Navy man their equipment and the army equip their men”. Apologies for the gendered language but that’s the saying. So, we’re putting human beings – very often – inside ships and planes and tanks and trucks. And we’re also asking soldiers to carry – very often – lots of heavy equipment. Their rations, their weapons, their ammunition, water, various tools and stuff that they need to survive and fight on the battlefield. And all that stuff weighs and all of that stuff, if you’re running about carrying it, bangs into the body and can hurt people. So, we need to address that stuff.
Secondly, we need to look at physical and cognitive actions that operators will take. So, this is really very broad once we get into the cognitive arena thinking about what are the operators going to be doing. And exposures to mechanical stress while performing work. So, maybe more of a focus on the maintainer in part three. Now, for all of this stuff, we need to identify characteristics of the design of the system or the design of the work that could degrade performance or increase the likelihood of erroneous action that could result in mishaps or accidents.
This is classic human factor’s stuff. How might the designed work or the designed equipment induce human error? So, that’s a huge area of study for a lot of systems and very important. And this will be typically a very large contributor to serious accidents and, in fact, accidents of all kinds. So, it should be an area of great focus. Often it is not. We just tend to focus on the so-called technical risks and overdo that while ignoring the human in the system. Or just assuming that the human will cope, which is worse.
Ergonomics (T207) #3
Continuing with ergonomics. How many staff do we need to operate and maintain the system and what demands are we placing on them? Also, if we overdo these demands, what are we going to do about that? Now, this can be a big problem in certain systems. I come from an aviation background and fatigue and crew duty time tend to be very heavily policed in aviation. But I was actually quite shocked when I sort of began looking at naval surface ships, submarines, where it seemed that fatigue and crew duty time was not well policed. In fact, there even seemed to be, in some places, quite a macho attitude to forcing the crew into working long hours. I say macho attitude because the feeling seemed to be “Well if you can’t take it, you shouldn’t have joined.”
So, it seems to be to me, quite a negative culture in those areas potentially, and it’s something that we need to think about. In particular, I’ve noticed on certain projects that you have a large crew who seem to be doing an extraordinary amount of work and becoming very fatigued. That’s concerning because, of course, you could end up with a level of fatigue where the crew might as well – they’re making mistakes to the same level as a drunk driver. So, this is something that needs to be considered carefully and given the attention it deserves.
Operating Environment #1
Moving on to the operating environment. How will these systems be used and maintained? And what does that imply for human exposure? This is another opportunity where we need to learn from legacy systems and go back and look at historical material and say “What are people being exposed to in the past? And what could happen again?”
Now, that’s important. It’s often not very systematically done. We might go and talk to a few old, bold operators and maintainers and ask their advice on the things that can go wrong but we don’t always do it very systematically. We don’t always survey past hazard and accident data in order to learn from it. Or if we do there is sometimes a tendency to say, “That happened in the past, but we will never make those mistakes. We’re far too clever to stuff up like that – like our predecessors did.” Forgetting that our predecessors were just as clever as we are and just as well –meaning as we are but they were human and so are we.
I think pride can get in the way of a lot of these analyses as well. And there may be occasions where we’re getting close to exposure limits, where regulations say we simply cannot expose people to a certain level of noise, or whatever, and then “How are we going to deal with that? How are we going to prevent people from being overexposed?” Again, this can be a problem area.
Operating Environment #2
This next bit of operating environment is really – I said about putting people in the equipment. Well, this is this bit. This is part A and B. So, we’re thinking about “If we stick people in a vehicle – whether it be a land vehicle, marine vehicle, an air vehicle, whatever it might be – what is that vehicle going to do to their bodies?” In terms of noise, of vibration and stresses like G forces, for example, and shock, shock loading? Could we expose them to blast overpressure or some other sudden changes of pressure or noise that’s going to damage their ears, temporarily or permanently? Again, remarkably easy to do. So, that’s that aspect.
Operating Environment #3
Moving on, we continue to talk about noise and vibration in general. In this particular standard, we’ve got some quite stringent guidance on what needs to be looked at. Now, these requirements, of course, are assuming a particular way of doing things, which we will come to later. There are a lot of standards reference by task 207. This task is assuming that we’re going to do things the American government or the American military way, which may not be appropriate for what we’re doing or the jurisdiction we’re in. So, we’ll just move on.
Operating Environment #4
Then again, talking about noise, blast, vibration, how are we going to do it? Some quite specific requirements in here. And again, you’ll notice, two-thirds of the way down in the paragraph, I’ve had to chop out some examples. There is some more in effect, hazard checklists in here saying we must consider X, Y, Z. Now, again, this seems to be requiring a particular way of doing things that may not be appropriate in a non-American defence environment.
However, the principle I think, to take away from this is that this is a very demanding task. If we consider human health effects properly, it’s going to require a lot of work by some very specialist and skilled people. In fact, we may even get in some specialist medical people. If you work in aviation or medicine, you may be aware that there is a specialist branch of medicine for called aviation medicine where these things are specifically considered. And similarly, there are medical specialists are a diving operations and other things where we expose human beings to strange effects. So, this can be a very, very demanding task to follow.
Operating Environment #5
So, when we’re going to equip people with protective equipment or we’re going to make engineering changes to the system to protect them, how effective are these things going to be? And given that most of these things have a finite effectiveness – they’re rarely perfect unless you can take the human out of the system entirely, then we’re going to be exposing people to some level of hazard and there will be some risk that that might cause that injury.
So, how many individuals are we going to expose per platform or over the total population exposed over the life of the system? Now, bearing in mind we’re talking sometimes about very large military systems that are in service for decades. This can be thousands and thousands of people. So, we may need to think about that and certainly in Australia, if we expose people to certain potential contaminants and noise, we may have to run a monitoring program to monitor the health and exposure of some of this exposed population or all of them. So, that can be a major task and we would need to identify the requirements to do that quite early on, hopefully.
And then, of course, again, we’re not doing this for the sake of it. How can we optimize the design and effectively reduce noise exposure and vibration exposure to humans? And how did we calculate it? How did we come to those conclusions? Because we’re going to have to keep those records for a long, long time. So, again, very demanding recording requirements for this task.
Operating Environment #6
And then I think this is the final one on operating environment. What are the limitations of this protective equipment and what burden do they impose? Because, of course, if we load people up with protective equipment that may introduce further hazards. Maybe we’re making the individual more likely to suffer a muscular musculoskeletal disorder.
Or maybe we are making them less agile or reducing their sensitivity to noise? Maybe if we give people hearing protection, if somebody else has assumed that they will hear a hazard coming, well, they’re not going to anymore, are they? If they’re wearing lots of protective equipment, they may not be as aware of the environment around them as they once were. So, we can introduce secondary hazards with some of this stuff. And then we need to look at the trade-offs. When and where? Is it better to equip people or not to equip people and limit their exposure or just keep them away altogether?
So moving on briefly, we’re just going to talk about radiation. Now in this task – again, I’ve had to chop a lot of stuff out – you’ll see that in square brackets this task refers to certain US standards for radiation. Both ionizing and non-ionizing, lasers and so forth. That’s appropriate for the original domain, which this standard was targeted at. It may be wholly inappropriate for what you and I are doing.
So, we need to look at the principles of this task, but we may need to tailor the task substantially in order to make it appropriate for the jurisdiction we’re working in. Again, we’re going to have to keep these records for a long time. Radiation is always going to be dreaded by humans so it’s a controversial topic. We’re going to have to monitor people’s exposure and protect them and show that we have done so, potentially decades into the future. So, we should be looking for the very highest standards of documentation and recording in these areas because they will come under scrutiny.
Moving onto contracting, this is more of a standard part of this task or part of the standard, I should say. These words or very similar words exist in every task. So, I’m not going to go through all of these things in any great detail. It’s worth noting, and I’ll come back to this in part B, we may need to direct whoever is doing the analyses to consider or exclude certain areas because it’s quite possible to fritter away a lot of resources doing either a wide but shallow analysis that fails to get to the things that can really hurt people.
So, we might be doing a superficial analysis or we might go overboard on a particular area and I’ve mentioned HAZMAT but there are many things that people can get overexcited about. So, we might see people spending a lot of time and effort and money in a particular area and ignoring others that can still hurt people. Even though they might be mundane, not as sexy. Maybe the analysts don’t understand them or don’t want to know. So, the customer who is paying for this may need to direct the analysis. I will come on to how you do that later.
Also the customer or client may need to specify certain sources of information, certain standards, certain exposure standards, certain assumptions, certain historical sets of data and statistics to be used. Or some statistics about the population, because, of course, for example, the military systems, the people who operate military systems tend to be quite a narrow subset of the population. So, there are very often age limits. Frontline infantry soldiers tend to be young and fit. In certain professions, you may not be allowed to work if you are colour-blind or have certain disabilities. So, it may be that a broad analysis of the general population is not appropriate for certain tasks.
It may be perfectly reasonable to assume certain things about the target population. So, we need to think about all of these things and ensure that we don’t have an unfocused analysis that as a result is ineffective or wastes a lot of money looking at things that don’t really matter, that are irrelevant.
Standards and criteria. In part F, there are 29 references which the standard lists, which are all US military standards or US legal standards. Now, probably a lot of those will be inappropriate for a lot of jurisdictions and a lot of applications. So, there’s going to be quite a lot of work there to identify what are the appropriate and mandatory references and standards to use. And as I said, in the health hazard area, there are often a lot. So, we will often be quite tightly constrained on what to do.
And Part H, if the customer knows or has some idea of the staff numbers and profile, they’re going to be exposed to this system of operating and maintaining the system. That’s a very useful information and needs to be shared. We don’t want to make the analyst, the contractor, guess. We want them to use appropriate information. So, tell them and make sure you’ve done your homework, that you tell them the right thing to do.
So, that’s all of the standard. I’ve got four slides now of commentary. And the first one, I just want to really summarize what we’ve talked about and think about the complexity of what we’re being asked to do. First bullet point, we are considering cradle to grave operation and maintenance and disposal. Everything associated with, potentially, quite a complex system. Now, this lines up very nicely with the requirements of Australian law, which require us to do all of this stuff. So, it’s got to be comprehensive.
Second bullet point, we’ve got to think about a lot of things. Death and injury, illness, disability, the effects on and could we infect somebody or contaminate somebody with something that will cause birth defects in their offspring? There’s a wide range of potential vectors of harm that we’re talking about here, and we will probably – for some systems, we will need to bring in some very specialist knowledge in order to do this effectively. And also thinking about reduced job performance – this is one aspect of human factors. This task is going to linking very strongly to whatever human factors program we might.
Thirdly, we’ve got to think about chemical, physical, and biological hazards. So, again, there’s a wide range of stuff to think about there. An example of that is hazmat and the requirements on hazmat are, in most jurisdictions, tend to be very stringent. So, that is going to be done and we need to be prepared to do a thorough job and demonstrate that we’ve done a thorough job and provide all the evidence.
Then we’ve also got ergonomics. Actually, strictly speaking, we’re talking human factors here because it’s a much wider definition than what the definition of ergonomics that I’m used to, which tends to be purely physical effects on a human. Because we’re talking about cognitive and perception and job performance as well and also we’ve got vibration and acoustics. So, again, particular medical effects and stringent requirements. So, a whole heap of other specialists work there.
And operating environment, thinking about the humans that will be exposed. How are we going to manage that? What do we need to specify in order to set up whatever medical monitoring program of the workforce we might have to bring in in the future through life? So, again, potentially a very big, expensive program. We need to plan that properly.
Then finally, radiation. Another controversial topic which gets lots of attention. Very stringent requirements, both in terms of exposure levels and indeed we will often be directed as to how we are to calculate and estimate stuff. It’s another specialist area and it has to be done properly and thoroughly.
Overall, every one of those seven bullet points shows how complex and how comprehensive a good health hazard analysis needs to be. So, to specify this well, to understand what is required and what is needed through life, for the program to meet our legal and regulatory obligations, this is a big task and it needs a lot of attention and potentially a lot of different specialist knowledge to make it work. I flogged that one to death, so I’ll move on.
Now, as I’ve said before, too, this is an American military standard, so it’s been written to conform to that world. Now in Australia, the requirements of Australian work, health and safety are quite different to the American way of doing things. Whilst we tend to buy a lot of American equipment and there’s a lot of American-style thinking in our military and in our defence industry, actually, Australian law much is much more closely linked to English law. It’s a different legal basis to what the Americans do. So Australian practitioners take note.
It’s very easy to go down the path of following this standard and doing something that will not really meet Australian requirements. It’ll be, “We’ll do some work” and it may be very good work, but when we come to the end and we have to demonstrate compliance with Australian requirements, if we haven’t thought about and explicitly upfront, we’re probably in for a nasty shock and a lot of expensive rework that will delay the program. And that means we’re going to become very, very unpopular very quickly. So, that’s one to avoid in my experience.
So, we will need to tailor task 207 requirements upfront in order to achieve WHS compliance. And the client customer needs to do that and understand that not the – well the contractor needs to. The analysts need to understand that. But the customer needs to understand that first, otherwise, it won’t happen.
Let’s talk a bit more about tailoring for WHS. For example, there are several WHS codes of practice which are relevant. And just to let you know, these codes of practice cover not only requirements of what you have to achieve, but also, to a degree, how you are to achieve them. So, they mandate certain approaches. They mandate certain exposure standards. Some of them also list a lot of other standards that are not mandated but are useful and informative.
So, we’ve got codes of practice on hazardous manual tasks so avoiding muscular-skeletal injuries. We’ve got several codes of practice on hazardous chemicals. So, we’ve got a COP specifically on risk management and risk assessment of hazardous chemicals, on safety data sheets, on labelling of HAZCHEM in a workplace. We’ve got a COP on noise and hearing loss and also, we have other COPs on specific risks, such as asbestos, electricity and others, depending on what you’re doing. So, potentially there is a lot of regulation and codes of practice that we need to follow.
And remember that COPs are, while they contain regulations, they also are a standard that a court will look to enforce if you get prosecuted. If you wind up in court, the prosecution will be asking questions to determine whether you’ve met the requirements of COP or not. If you can’t demonstrate that you’ve met them, you might have done a whole heap of work and you might be the greatest expert in the world on a certain kind of risk, but if he can’t demonstrate that you’ve met at minimum the requirements of COP – because they are minimum requirements – then you’re going to be in trouble. So, you need to be aware of what those things are.
Then on radiation, we have separate laws outside the WHS. So, we have the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, ARPANSA, and there is an associated act and associated regulations and some COP as well. So, for radiation side, there’s a whole other world that you’ve got to be aware of and associated with all of this stuff are exposure standards.
Finally, how do we do all of this without spending every dollar in the defence budget and taking 100 years to do it? Well, first of all, we need to set our scope and priorities. So, before we get to Task 207, the client/the customer should be involving end-users and doing a preliminary hazard identification exercise. That should be broad and as thorough as possible. They should also be doing a preliminary hazardous hazard analysis exercise, Task 202, to think about those hazards and risks further.
Also, you should be doing Task 203, which is system requirements hazard analysis. We need to be thinking about what are the applicable requirements for my system from the law all the way down to what specific standards? What codes of practice? What historical norms do we expect for this type of equipment? Maybe there is industry good practice on the way things are done. Maybe as we work through the specifications for the equipment, we will derive further requirements for hazard controls or a safety management system or whatever it might be. That’s a big job in itself.
So, we need to do all three of those tasks, 201, 202, 203, in order to be prepared and ready to focus on those things that we think might hurt us. Might hurt people physically, but also might hurt us in terms of the amount of effort we’re going to have to make in order to demonstrate compliance and assurance. So, that will focus our efforts.
Secondly, when we need to do the specialist analyses and we may not always need to do so. This is where 201, 202, and 203 come in. But where we need to do specialist analyses, we may need to find specialist staff who are competent to do these this kind of unusual or specialist work and do it well. Now, typically, these people are not cheap, and they tend to be in short supply. So, if you can think about this early and engage people early, then you’re going to get better support.
You’re probably going to get a better deal because in my experience if you call in the experts and ask their opinion early on, they’re more likely to come back and help you later. As opposed to, if you ignore them or disregard their advice and then ask them for help because you’re in trouble, they may just ignore you because they’ve got so much work on. They don’t need your work. They don’t need you as a client. You may find yourself high and dry without the specialists you need or you may find yourself paying through the nose to get them because you’re not a priority in their eyes. So do think about this stuff early, I would suggest and do cultivate the specialist. If you get them in early and listen to them and they feel involved, you’re much more likely to get a good service out of them.
So thirdly, try not to do huge amounts of work on stuff that doesn’t really have a credible impact on health. Now, I know that sounds like a statement of the blinking obvious, but because people get so het up about health issues, particularly things like radiation and other hazards that humans can’t see: we dread them. We get very emotional about this stuff and therefore, management tends to get very, very worried about this stuff. And I’ve seen lots of programs spend literally millions of dollars analyzing stuff to death, which really doesn’t make any difference to the safety of people in the real world. Now, obviously, that’s wasted money, but also it diverts attention from those areas that really are going to cause or could cause harm to people through the life of the system.
So, we need to use that risk matrix to understand what is the real level of risk exposure to human beings and therefore, how much money should we be spending? How much effort and priority should we be spending on analyzing this stuff? If the risk is genuinely very low, then probably we just take some standard precautions, follow industry best practice, and leave it at that and we keep our pennies for where they can really make a difference.
Now, having said that, there are some exceptions. We do need to think about accident survivability. So, what stresses are people going to be exposed to if their vehicle is an accident? How do we protect them? How do they escape afterward? Hopefully. How do we get them to safety and treat the injured? And so on and so forth. That may be a very significant thing for your system.
Also post-accident scenarios in terms of – very often a lot of hazardous materials are safely locked away inside components and systems but if the system catches fire or is smashed to pieces and then catches fire, then potentially a lot of that HAZMAT is going to become exposed. Very often materials that pose a very low level of risk, if you set them on fire and then you look at the toxic residue left behind after the fire, it becomes far more serious. So, that is something to consider. What do we do after we’ve had an accident and we need to sort of clean up the site afterward? And so on and so forth.
Again, this tends to be a very specialist job so maybe we need to get in some specialists to give us advice on that. Or we need to look to some standards if it’s a commonplace thing in our industry, as it often is. We learn we learned from bitter experience. Well, hopefully, we learn from bitter experience.
So, that’s it from me. I appreciate it’s been a long session, but this is a very complex task and I’ve really only skimmed the surface on this and pointed you at sort of further reading and maybe some principles to look at in more depth. So, all the quotations are from the Mill standard, which is copyright free. But this presentation is copyright of the Safety Artisan.
And for more information on this topic and others, and for more resources, do please visit www.safetyartisan.com. There are lots of free resources on the website as well, and there’s plenty of free videos to look at.