Tragic Worksite Blast Injures Five: Could it have Been Prevented?

According to Global News, an industrial facility in Sarnia, Ontario has seen a dangerous explosion and fire.  Four workers were injured and one was taken to a hospital in critical condition.  He passed away soon after.

The explosion started a fire which seriously burned several workers.  The explosion itself caused a partial collapse of the roof, which could have resulted in more fatalities had any workers been near the collapse.  In this case, there is no good news.  Whenever workers are injured, their lives are at stake.  Whether it’s from faulty machinery or improper work site procedures, it’s imperative to be cautious around machinery and hazardous materials.

No reports as of yet have found the cause of this accident, though they have ruled out any chemicals or gas explosions.  Though speculation points to faulty machinery being the origin of the explosion, an important question remains: could this tragedy have been prevented?

Innocent lives are lost every year to fatal workplace accidents.  This is just an isolated case out of hundreds reported by OSHA annually.  These tragedies, in this day and age, could be avoided with the proper tools and procedures. That’s exactly why Master Lock introduced Field iD.

Field iD is a customizable application that makes auditing and inspecting easier than ever.  With this invaluable tool, you can keep your workers safer than ever before and prevent the most common workplace risks.  With Field iD, supervisors and workers can manage and stay tuned to all the changes and inspections at the work site and beyond. Here are just a few ways Field iD can help you keep your workers safe and machinery running smoothly:

Scheduling tools: Keep track of your inspection and audit due-dates.  Stay ahead and prepared for your inspections so you can pass on-time with flying colors.

Paperless Audits and Inspections: Field iD will keep your inspections organized with checklists and one-click audits.  The paperless model allows for seamless knowledge at your fingertips so you can always stay ahead of faulty machinery, parts, and assets.  With more detailed and efficient audits and inspections, you can expect a much safer and more informed work place.

Organize your assets: Whether it’s machinery or equipment, stay on top of all of your assets with Field iD.  Assign assets to specific work sites and even workers and keep updated with the check-in/check-out functionality.  Make sure that your workers have the right tools for the job.

Safety Scoring: Go above and beyond pass-fail with safety scoring. Keeping your operation in top shape with our automated sliders and scoring query is as easy as filling out a checklist.  Customize your scoring to your work site needs and keep your jobs running smoothly.

Lockout/Tagout: Our software is an incredible lockout/tagout tool that reinforces safety procedures by giving you the power to author and assign tasks to staff.  Keeping organized can be the biggest issue with lockout/tagout procedures, but our networked software makes it easier and safer.  From assignment to review, our system is built robustly for those who want a safer workplace for their employees.

Remember that the workplace is as dangerous as the procedures are. Preventing risk while you are ahead is the best way to keep your employees safe at work.  To learn more about Field iD from Master Lock, click here.

Lifting equipment inspection records are a global challenge

OSHA, ASME, DOL, HSE LOLER. All of these acronyms somehow, in some way offer compliance and or enforcement guidance for lifting and rigging safety.  Today, I’m flying to Leeds, UK to attend the LEEA (Lifting Equipment Engineers Association) 2011 trade show.  The show is called LiftEx, and according to the LEEA website, it’s the leading event for the lifting industry.

“Now in its 7th year, LiftEx 2011 has become the leading event for the lifting industry. It has grown considerably to become a major exhibition this year, with 38% more floor space than in 2010. Now with 65 exhibition stands, the event will showcase the latest technology in the industry by bringing together designers, engineers, manufacturers, distributors, repairers and hirers of all types of lifting equipment.”

In preparing for this conference, I’ve been looking at the different lifting and rigging standards in Europe to ensure that I have educated discussions with anyone I talk to while on my trip.  In short, the basic safety compliance requirements related to lifting and rigging seem to be very similar across many different countries.

We have many rigging customers in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and many more countries. For most of them, one basic safety requirement is that all lifting and rigging equipment needs to tagged with a clear indication of the working load limit, and that each piece of rigging gear needs to be inspected once a year by a competent person. And those inspection records must be available. Each country has some footnotes to this basic requirement. As an example, the UK requires that any rigging equipment that lifts a person is required to be inspected every six months.

The fact that all of these different countries have put in place strict regulations on the proper use and documentation of lifting equipment is a clear sign that this equipment must be taken seriously, as it can cause workplace incidents if used improperly. We’re always looking for new perspectives on safety and compliance, and so events like LiftEx are an important way for us to connect with peers in the industry. It helps us understand what’s important, and it helps make constant improvements to the world’s leading inspection software. It helps us make lifting and rigging safety compliance easier.

I’m looking forward to LiftEx and the opportunity to discuss rigging safety compliance with my peers in other parts of the world. If you’re attending LiftEx, you can see us in stand 41. Come by and say hi!

Foreign Material Exclusion (FME) and Nuclear Safety

In my last blog post I promised that I would write a second part about my road trip in late August.  Well, here it is: a summary about my first experience with the nuclear FME working group in Rochester.

If you are asking yourself “what is FME?”, don’t worry I was not very familiar with this topic  myself until the three days I was at this meeting.  FME is an acronym:




So, what is Foreign Material Exclusion?  It is actually very hard to find a definition of this online so I will try on my own.  Basically, this is exactly what it sounds like.  It is keeping foreign material (tools, rigging, fall arrest etc.)  out of certain spaces or “zones”.  The people that are responsible for managing FME are known as a “FME coordinator”‘.  The FME coordinator’s meet twice a year to improve safety in the industry.  It was a great group and I learned a lot.

Keeping Track of Foreign Material

Knowing which items are coming in and going out of a FME zone is extremely important, especially in a nuclear environment.  This task is very tricky when you are managing hundreds of shut downs and workers.  You can use Excel or paper records to do this task, but automating would save a ton of time and improve accuracy.

Industry Similarities

There are many organizations that need to perform the exact same type of activity, it’s just not as scrutinized as much as it is in the nuclear industry. This is often referred to as check in / check out.  Utility and constructions companies assign equipment to both people and places.

Ontario Ministry of Labour plans Construction Inspection Blitz for August

On August 1st the Ontario Ministry of Labour announced that they will have their inspectors conduct a safety blitz with a focus on ladders, platforms and access equipment.  The inspectors will concentrate on five areas:

  1. Worker training on access equipment
  2. Safe use, inspection and testing of access equipment
  3. Maintenance records and other documentation
  4. Rescue and emergency procedures; and
  5. Other hazards

Apart from the ambiguous 5th point, “other hazards”, the top 4 points can all be extremely simplified by inspection software.  Let’s look at each point.  Worker training is a problem area for most companies.  How do you know if someone has the proper training?  Do people carry around all of their certification paperwork?  The latest in inspection and safety compliance management software allows you to simply scan a person (think employee access card) and know whether this person has the right qualifications.  A lot of Field ID users couldn’t imagine employee training tracking without handheld devices.  Points 2 and 3 also benefit immensely with the use of inspection software.  Digital records of maintenance, safety documentation, recording of inspections and testing is the main benefit of inspection software.  If you aren’t using a digital safety system, you probably have a filing cabinet or binders full of this information (hopefully!).

Being able to pass a Ministry of Labour inspection at any time is becoming a reality.  Companies should look at improving their processes so they can pass an inspection at any time, but also to increase workplace safety.

Here are some quick facts from the Ministry’s website about their inspection blitzes:

  • Between 2003 and 2008, 24 construction workers died from falls that involved access equipment.
  • Since 2008, Ontario safety inspectors have made more than 266,000 field visits and conducted 33 inspection blitzes.
  • Inspectors have issued more than 425,000 compliance orders since 2008.

To read more about the blitz, read the announcement here.

Apple's iCloud and the Field ID Cloud Safety Model

At Apple’s latest World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) they announced iCloud – a service which stores all of your music, photos and documents in the cloud. While this concept isn’t new it does bring even more focus on the benefits of storing information in the cloud and not on your own servers.

Cloud Computing

Many of you have heard of Cloud Computing but are unsure of what it is or the benefits. Traditionally when companies invested in software that also meant investing in the hardware and staff to run the software. You were responsible for purchasing servers, installing them and installing software patches and upgrades. With Cloud Computing, you eliminate all of these tasks because you rely on your vendor, such as Field ID to manage all of this for you.

Imagine you have 10,000 songs on your laptop and your hard drive dies. Unless you’ve been diligent with backups (which I’m not) your songs are gone. With iCloud no problem. All of your songs would be pushed down to your new computer – problem solved.

The Cloud and Field ID

For over 4 years now we have been helping business move from a paper based safety process to an electronic one. Since Field ID stores all information fully secure in the cloud and not on your own servers you can access the information anywhere, anytime.

Imagine being at a job site and needing to know if the Preventative Maintenance was completed on your equipment. Instead of having a piece of paper sitting in a filling cabinet hundreds of miles away you can request that information from Field ID through your web browser. This also applies to all stakeholders in your safety program, whether it’s plant managers, technicians, operators, VP’s or OSHA auditors.

The Future of Cloud Computing and Safety

Many are saying with Apple’s iCloud Cloud Computing has gone mainstream. Apple is seen as the catalyst for pushing new technology to the masses – a great example of this is the iPad. Sure there were tablet computers well before the iPad but it wasn’t until Apple entered the space that the tablet computer market went mainstream. The same is expected for iCloud.

The benefits of Cloud Computing are impossible to ignore. From cost of deployment to on-going support it’s a win – hands down. What does this mean for you? Well, if you are about to head out to do a inspection or audit on a clipboard or digging through filing cabinets to find a safety report imagine logging in, performing a search and having everything you need in seconds.  That’s the future of safety and cloud computing!

Safety Blitz in Ontario Targets Construction Sites

On June 6, 2011 the Ontario Minister of Labour announced that inspectors would conduct a safety blitz on all on construction sites with tower cranes as well as checking fall arrest equipment.  Most importantly, from an inspection and safety compliance point of view, the inspectors are going to check the inspection records and certifications of these construction sites.  They will delve into the details of the documentation to ensure that the crane operators are legally certified and in compliance  with the Occupational Health and Safety Act.  Another big priority is will be maintenance records.  The ministry stated that they would check documentation that details the condition of the crane and ensure that cranes were properly inspected before they were put up.  Not only that, they are going to ensure that log book entries have been made to ensure everything has been tested.

Most Construction Projects use Paper

The sad truth is that most construction sites use filing cabinets to manage these safety documents.  I would estimate that 99% of the companies that are being investigated will have to scramble to have all their documentation ready to be audited.  Imagine you are using a paper based system and a ministry inspector comes out.  You have to, first, go and get all your documentation.  This is not an easy task as you can have multiple cranes, multiple operators, multiple pieces of equipment, multiple certifications.  Imagine having to present all this information, unexpectedly.  Most companies simply are not ready for this level of scrutiny (which they should be).

Inspection and safety compliance management solves this exact problem.  For companies that choose to digitize their safety and inspection process, they are literally always ready for this type of audit, 24/7/365.  Just point the auditor to a web-browser and instantly everything is there for them to investigate and scrutinize.

Although the Ministry of Labour should be commended for actively trying to to  ensure compliance, they should really go a step further and recommend the proper ways to manage safety (and perhaps provide the tools to do it).  Just going onsite and auditing construction companies and handing out fines is a short term fix.  Hopefully, they can look at the longer term picture and suggest (or mandate) that companies manage safety digitally.  It would make the Ministry’s job easier and increase workplace safety at all these construction sites.  A complete win-win.

source: DCN Digital Media

218 School and Hospital Fire Inspections are Required in Nova Scotia

This is truly an example where modernizing inspections and safety compliance management can really make a difference.  We discussed in a previous blog post how fire inspections weren’t being conducted in Nova Scotia.  The Department of Labour recently reported that 218 schools and hospitals (17 hospitals and 201 schools) had outstanding inspections.  The department released the list just last Thursday.

The province stated it is going to carry out the fire inspections on the hospitals within 6 months, and 131 of the schools over the next year.  The remainder would be inspected in the following year!  The report also stated, “The department is realigning resources and in the process of engaging additional staff to allow for a focused approach to these buildings.”

The department is already having a hard time coping with all the fire inspections and all they are doing is trying to throw additional resources at the problem.  If we can learn anything from software development, you can’t just throw resources and expect the progress of your work to scale up linearly.  Ultimately, quality suffers.

The department should find more efficient ways to conduct and schedule inspections, as well as store the safety documents properly.  Essentially what they are doing is finding a short term solution.  They should look at the bigger picture and realize they really need to modernize their process so this doesn’t happen again.

source: Canadian Press

Portable Gas Detector Safety – Part 3 of 3 – Common Myths

This is the third part of a three part series about portable gas detector safety. The first blog discussed the basics of portable gas detectors while the second blog discussed the how and when of testing and calibration.  Thanks to a great article in OH&S, today we’ll talk about common myths about gas detector safety.

Myth 1: Gas detectors needs to be calibrated only to make up for sensor drift

Not true.  Basically, any time a gas detector is used, all prior bump tests are no longer valid.  Anything could have happened to the unit since it was tested and you need to check it again with gas.

Myth 2: My gas detector does a self bump test so I don’t need to calibrate or test it

Wrong.  These tests only verify that the sensor is operational but doesn’t mean the unit is detecting gas.  For example, the sensor might be covered by a chemical which is preventing it from detecting gas, but the sensor could still be working.

Myth 3: I barely use my gas detector, so I don’t need to calibrate or setup a bump test procedure

Incorrect. Everything needs to be documented. If you don’t have the proper documentation that shows tests were done, then it doesn’t matter. Regardless of how many times you use the unit, you need to document and conduct calibrations and tests. You should always maintain a bump test schedule and document all that information.

This concludes my 3 part series on gas detector safety.  Let me know if you have any ideas for other safety series!

source: OH&S

Portable Gas Detector Safety – Part 2 of 3 – How and When

This is the second part of our 3 part Gas Detector Safety blog series. Last week, we looked at the basics of gas detector safety.  Today, we’ll talk about the the How and When of gas detector safety.  I’ve done some research and found some great advice of what you need to do to maintain compliance.

How to Ensure Gas detector Safety

I’ve summarized an article in OH&S.  Basically, there are are 4 steps in ensuring compliance.

Step 1. Calibration Gas Verification

You need to the expiration date of your calibration gas.  Call your manufacturer if you need to know exactly what concentrations are needed for which monitor.  You need to record this information and keep track of their expiration schedule.  Electronic safety systems like Field ID can really help with this, but people can also use spreadsheets.

Step 2. Record verification date and calibrate

Make sure you are in a room with clean air before zeroing.  Your calibration will be good for 30 days.  You need to record this information and ensure you are on top of the calibration schedule.  Every time the unit is used, it should be zeroed and bump tested.

Step 3. If the unit fails a bump test, recalibrate

Gas detector sensors drift from time to time. If the unit fails a calibration, then send it back to a repair center.

Step 4: Stick to the program

Make sure that you have a process in place to adhere to this program.  The hardest part about gas detection safety is that there is a ton of paperwork and data that you have to manage.  Ensure that you record your data and that everything is being scheduled properly.  Whether you are using a spreadsheet, or inspection software like Field ID, just make sure you are following your program.

For additional information, check out OSHA’s guide here.

Source: OH&S

Technology as a Safety Investment

Here at Field ID we invest quite a bit in technology.  We have since day one.  Given that we don’t have safety equipment or a large facility to perform safety inspections on, this is the closest we can get to eating our own dog food.  Field ID itself is hosted with Rackspace and we have also been experimenting with online file sharing.  We barely have any servers in the office, and I love it.  The other day I was able to save hours of work by building a report in Netsuite (our ERP system).  I imagine (or hope) that this is how our customers feel when they start using Field ID for the first time.  Below are some tips to make technology a good investment for your organization.

It’s all in the Cloud

It would be hypocritical if we told our customers that using Software-as-a- Service (SaaS) was a huge benefit over on-premise software and didn’t use SaaS based solutions ourselves.  Well don’t worry, hosted solutions and cloud computing is almost all we use.  Just a few applications are:

  • – Netsuite – ERP (CRM, accounting etc.)
  • – Kayako – Customer support
  • – Zoho Discussions – Community
  • – Jira – bug tracking software

These are just a few of the tools that we use to run our business, but as you can see the majority of them are cloud-based.

Hire a Geek

The reason that we have so many systems to run our business is no doubt due to the fact that we are all geeks.  We enjoy working with these systems.  Having an employee with a bit of a geeky side to them can be a huge benefit.  They don’t need an education in computers to be effective, just somewhat interested in them.  They will take a keen interest in finding you technology tools to save time and money.  Hopefully there are geeks out there right now looking for safety inspection software.