Category: Documents

Remembering an Accident: On February 1, 2003, the Columbia Breaks Up During Re-entry

February 1st, 2014 by

Click on the image above for a PowerPoint of the temperature alarms during reentry.

What Admiral Rickover Had to Say About Management

January 9th, 2014 by

(Picture of Captain Rickover taken after WWII while he was learning about nuclear technology
at the Manhattan Project before he became head of the Navy nuclear power program.)

The following is the text of a speech delivered in 1982 by Admiral Hyman G. Rickover – the father of the Nuclear Navy – at Columbia University. Rickover’s accomplishments as the head of the Nuclear Navy are legendary. From developing the first power producing submarine based nuclear reactor from scratch to operations in just three years to creating a program to guarantee process safety (nuclear safety) for over 60 years (zero nuclear accidents).

I am reprinting this speech here because I believe that many do not understand the management concepts needed to guarantee process safety. We teach these concepts in our “Reducing Serious Injuries and Fatalities Using TapRooT®” pre-Summit course. Since many won’t be able to attend this training, I wanted to give all an opportunity to learn these valuable lessons by posting this speech.

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Human experience shows that people, not organizations or management systems, get things done. For this reason, subordinates must be given authority and responsibility early in their careers. In this way they develop quickly and can help the manager do his work. The manager, of course, remains ultimately responsible and must accept the blame if subordinates make mistakes.

As subordinates develop, work should be constantly added so that no one can finish his job. This serves as a prod and a challenge. It brings out their capabilities and frees the manager to assume added responsibilities. As members of the organization become capable of assuming new and more difficult duties, they develop pride in doing the job well. This attitude soon permeates the entire organization.

One must permit his people the freedom to seek added work and greater responsibility. In my organization, there are no formal job descriptions or organizational charts. Responsibilities are defined in a general way, so that people are not circumscribed. All are permitted to do as they think best and to go to anyone and anywhere for help. Each person then is limited only by his own ability.

Complex jobs cannot be accomplished effectively with transients. Therefore, a manager must make the work challenging and rewarding so that his people will remain with the organization for many years. This allows it to benefit fully from their knowledge, experience, and corporate memory.

The Defense Department does not recognize the need for continuity in important jobs. It rotates officer every few years both at headquarters and in the field. The same applies to their civilian superiors.

This system virtually ensures inexperience and nonaccountability. By the time an officer has begun to learn a job, it is time for him to rotate. Under this system, incumbents can blame their problems on predecessors. They are assigned to another job before the results of their work become evident. Subordinates cannot be expected to remain committed to a job and perform effectively when they are continuously adapting to a new job or to a new boss.

When doing a job—any job—one must feel that he owns it, and act as though he will remain in the job forever. He must look after his work just as conscientiously, as though it were his own business and his own money. If he feels he is only a temporary custodian, or that the job is just a stepping stone to a higher position, his actions will not take into account the long-term interests of the organization. His lack of commitment to the present job will be perceived by those who work for him, and they, likewise, will tend not to care. Too many spend their entire working lives looking for their next job. When one feels he owns his present job and acts that way, he need have no concern about his next job.

In accepting responsibility for a job, a person must get directly involved. Every manager has a personal responsibility not only to find problems but to correct them. This responsibility comes before all other obligations, before personal ambition or comfort.

A major flaw in our system of government, and even in industry, is the latitude allowed to do less than is necessary. Too often officials are willing to accept and adapt to situations they know to be wrong. The tendency is to downplay problems instead of actively trying to correct them. Recognizing this, many subordinates give up, contain their views within themselves, and wait for others to take action. When this happens, the manager is deprived of the experience and ideas of subordinates who generally are more knowledgeable than he in their particular areas.

A manager must instill in his people an attitude of personal responsibility for seeing a job properly accomplished. Unfortunately, this seems to be declining, particularly in large organizations where responsibility is broadly distributed. To complaints of a job poorly done, one often hears the excuse, “I am not responsible.” I believe that is literally correct. The man who takes such a stand in fact is not responsible; he is irresponsible. While he may not be legally liable, or the work may not have been specifically assigned to him, no one involved in a job can divest himself of responsibility for its successful completion.

Unless the individual truly responsible can be identified when something goes wrong, no one has really been responsible. With the advent of modern management theories it is becoming common for organizations to deal with problems in a collective manner, by dividing programs into subprograms, with no one left responsible for the entire effort. There is also the tendency to establish more and more levels of management, on the theory that this gives better control. These are but different forms of shared responsibility, which easily lead to no one being responsible—a problems that often inheres in large corporations as well as in the Defense Department.

When I came to Washington before World War II to head the electrical section of the Bureau of Ships, I found that one man was in charge of design, another of production, a third handled maintenance, while a fourth dealt with fiscal matters. The entire bureau operated that way. It didn’t make sense to me. Design problems showed up in production, production errors showed up in maintenance, and financial matters reached into all areas. I changed the system. I made one man responsible for his entire area of equipment—for design, production, maintenance, and contracting. If anything went wrong, I knew exactly at whom to point. I run my present organization on the same principle.

A good manager must have unshakeable determination and tenacity. Deciding what needs to be done is easy, getting it done is more difficult. Good ideas are not adopted automatically. They must be driven into practice with courageous impatience. Once implemented they can be easily overturned or subverted through apathy or lack of follow-up, so a continuous effort is required. Too often, important problems are recognized but no one is willing to sustain the effort needed to solve them.

Nothing worthwhile can be accomplished without determination. In the early days of nuclear power, for example, getting approval to build the first nuclear submarine—the Nautilus—was almost as difficult as designing and building it. Many in the Navy opposed building a nuclear submarine.

In the same way, the Navy once viewed nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and cruisers as too expensive, despite their obvious advantages of unlimited cruising range and ability to remain at sea without vulnerable support ships. Yet today our nuclear submarine fleet is widely recognized as our nation’s most effective deterrent to nuclear war. Our nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and cruisers have proven their worth by defending our interests all over the world—even in remote trouble spots such as the Indian Ocean, where the capability of oil-fired ships would be severely limited by their dependence on fuel supplies.

The man in charge must concern himself with details. If he does not consider them important, neither will his subordinates. Yet “the devil is in the details.” It is hard and monotonous to pay attention to seemingly minor matters. In my work, I probably spend about ninety-nine percent of my time on what others may call petty details. Most managers would rather focus on lofty policy matters. But when the details are ignored, the project fails. No infusion of policy or lofty ideals can then correct the situation.

To maintain proper control one must have simple and direct means to find out what is going on. There are many ways of doing this; all involve constant drudgery. For this reason those in charge often create “management information systems” designed to extract from the operation the details a busy executive needs to know. Often the process is carried too far. The top official then loses touch with his people and with the work that is actually going on.

Attention to detail does not require a manager to do everything himself. No one can work more than twenty-four hours each day. Therefore to multiply his efforts, he must create an environment where his subordinates can work to their maximum ability. Some management experts advocate strict limits to the number of people reporting to a common superior—generally five to seven. But if one has capable people who require but a few moments of his time during the day, there is no reason to set such arbitrary constraints. Some forty key people report frequently and directly to me. This enables me to keep up with what is going on and makes it possible for them to get fast action. The latter aspect is particularly important. Capable people will not work for long where they cannot get prompt decisions and actions from their superior.

I require frequent reports, both oral and written, from many key people in the nuclear program. These include the commanding officers of our nuclear ships, those in charge of our schools and laboratories, and representatives at manufacturers’ plants and commercial shipyards. I insist they report the problems they have found directly to me—and in plain English. This provides them unlimited flexibility in subject matter—something that often is not accommodated in highly structured management systems—and a way to communicate their problems and recommendations to me without having them filtered through others. The Defense Department, with its excessive layers of management, suffers because those at the top who make decisions are generally isolated from their subordinates, who have the first-hand knowledge.

To do a job effectively, one must set priorities. Too many people let their “in” basket set the priorities. On any given day, unimportant but interesting trivia pass through an office; one must not permit these to monopolize his time. The human tendency is to while away time with unimportant matters that do not require mental effort or energy. Since they can be easily resolved, they give a false sense of accomplishment. The manager must exert self-discipline to ensure that his energy is focused where it is truly needed.

All work should be checked through an independent and impartial review. In engineering and manufacturing, industry spends large sums on quality control. But the concept of impartial reviews and oversight is important in other areas also. Even the most dedicated individual makes mistakes—and many workers are less than dedicated. I have seen much poor work and sheer nonsense generated in government and in industry because it was not checked properly.

One must create the ability in his staff to generate clear, forceful arguments for opposing viewpoints as well as for their own. Open discussions and disagreements must be encouraged, so that all sides of an issue will be fully explored. Further, important issues should be presented in writing. Nothing so sharpens the thought process as writing down one’s arguments. Weaknesses overlooked in oral discussion become painfully obvious on the written page.

When important decisions are not documented, one becomes dependent on individual memory, which is quickly lost as people leave or move to other jobs. In my work, it is important to be able to go back a number of years to determine the facts that were considered in arriving at a decision. This makes it easier to resolve new problems by putting them into proper perspective. It also minimizes the risk of repeating past mistakes. Moreover if important communications and actions are not documented clearly, one can never be sure they were understood or even executed.

It is a human inclination to hope things will work out, despite evidence or doubt to the contrary. A successful manager must resist this temptation. This is particularly hard if one has invested much time and energy on a project and thus has come to feel possessive about it. Although it is not easy to admit what a person once thought correct now appears to be wrong, one must discipline himself to face the facts objectively and make the necessary changes—regardless of the consequences to himself. The man in charge must personally set the example in this respect. He must be able, in effect, to “kill his own child” if necessary and must require his subordinates to do likewise. I have had to go to Congress and, because of technical problems, recommended terminating a project that had been funded largely on my say-so. It is not a pleasant task, but one must be brutally objective in his work.

No management system can substitute for hard work. A manager who does not work hard or devote extra effort cannot expect his people to do so. He must set the example. The manager may not be the smartest or the most knowledgeable person, but if he dedicates himself to the job and devotes the required effort, his people will follow his lead.

The ideas I have mentioned are not new—previous generations recognized the value of hard work, attention to detail, personal responsibility, and determination. And these, rather than the highly-touted modern management techniques, are still the most important in doing a job. Together they embody a common-sense approach to management, one that cannot be taught by professors of management in a classroom.

I am not against business education. A knowledge of accounting, finance, business law, and the like can be of value in a business environment. What I do believe is harmful is the impression often created by those who teach management that one will be able to manage any job by applying certain management techniques together with some simple academic rules of how to manage people and situations.

New Military Standard for Human Engineering Design Criteria

April 4th, 2012 by

Here’s new (January 2012) Mil-STD-1472G:

Mil Std 1472G
(Click on document to open)

I really like the labeling guidance that starts on page 132 (Section 5.4). But don’t think this is it … every section has excellent material.

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FBI Complaint Against JetBlue Captain

March 31st, 2012 by

Here is a PDF of the FBI criminal complaint … click to see the full document.


CSB Asks for Comments on Their 2012-2016 Strategic Plan

March 29th, 2012 by

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The CSB has asked for comments on their 2012-2016 Strategic Plan by April 12, 2012. You can see the plan at:

You can send your comments by email to

My thought was that the strategic plan needed more specifics as far as the strategies to be adopted. For example, there were five sub-goals under “Goal 3: Preserve the public trust by maintaining and improving organizational excellence.” One of these was “Maintain effective human capital management by promoting development in leadership, technical, and analytical competencies.

The document referred to several other plans, (the “CSB Human Capital Plan for Fiscal Years 2011 – 2015,” the “Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Workforce Planning Model,” and the “OPM Strategic Leadership Management Model”), that were not readily available on the CSB web site or by a link in the Strategic Plan. Thus, the specifics of the plan are largely unknown and unknowable.

For example, I would like to see an easy link to the qualification requirements and training program for CSB investigators. This could be helpful so that others could see what the CSB considers an adequately qualified investigator.

It would also be interesting for the CSB to detail what they are doing to learn industry best practices for root cause analysis, interviewing, corrective action development, and accident prevention. But these details are not easily available.

Also, I would think that many TapRooT® Users would suggest that the CSB have a core of investigators familiar with the TapRooT® System that is used extensively across the chemical, petrochemical, and oil industry. This would help them interface with industry personnel and provide them the knowledge they need to evaluate industry incident reports produced using TapRooT®.

Finally, I would also think that TapRooT® Users would like to see continued participation of the CSB in ongoing TapRooT® Summits where industry best practices about root cause analysis and accident prevention are shared. Participation in the TapRooT® Summit and other industry conferences should be spelled out as part of the strategy to keep up with the state-of-the-art in the chemical industry.

One other item that deserves comments is the timeliness of CSB accident reports. Frequently, these reports are more than a year after the accident. Important investigations, (for example, BP Texas City, and the still unreleased BP Deepwater Horizon investigations), take more than two years. By the time the investigations are released, the industry has already implemented corrective actions and moved along. I would like to see a specific strategy/plan to improve the timeliness of investigations to avoid late investigations that have limited industry impact because of their tardiness.

One final thought … because having an effective independent evaluation of major accidents is so important, I highly recommend that readers in the chemical industry take the time to read the CSB Strategic Plan and provide your comments before April 12. You can’t complain about the outcome if you don’t comment when asked.

T-48 Hours and Counting! Welcome to the TapRooT® Summit!

February 27th, 2012 by

Just 48 hours until the start of the 2012 Global TapRooT® Summit.

Here’s the welcome talk in a PDF format …


Monday Accident & NOT Lessons Learned: Under-Reporting of Sentinel Events May Be One More Cause of Failure to Prevent Human Errors in the Healthcare Setting

February 20th, 2012 by

A new investigation by the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services says that:

Hospital employees recognize and report only one out of seven errors, accidents and other events that harm Medicare patients while they are hospitalized.

The report also says that:

…even after hospitals investigate preventable injuries and infections that have been reported, they rarely change their practices to prevent repetition of the ‘adverse events.’

For the whole report, see:

So, only a small fraction of sentinel events are investigated and most of those don’t cause permanent, effective change to prevent future errors.

Sometimes it can be frustrating to be a prophet when those that could make change happen just don’t listen. We’ve been suggesting proven ways to improve sentinel event investigation and performance improvement that could be applied by medical facilities ever sine the 1994 TapRooT® Summit. But only a limited number of healthcare facilities have taken advantage of the lessons they could learn.

The TapRooT® Summit is coming up on February 29 – March 2 and we have a full track devoted to improving performance in the healthcare industry. This isn’t just lessons from inside the industry. Rather, this is a place where healthcare folks can learn from a wide variety of industries and facilities with best practices from around-the-world.

If you are from a healthcare facility that needs to improve (and from the Inspector General’s report, that’s just about every facility) there’s still just enough time to sign up. See:

PowerPoint of Pictures of the Costa Concordia

January 24th, 2012 by

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Click on the .ppt file below to download.


Root Cause Tip: Sources of Root Cause Analysis Failure – A Paper By Mark Paradies

January 18th, 2012 by

I wrote this paper for the for the BARQA Journal and they are nice enough to let me republish it here. Click on the pdf below to see the whole article.

Mark Paradies Article Quasar 118-3

The article is written for people interested in root cause analysis to improve pharmaceutical quality, but the problems discussed are common to all industries and apply to those looking to improve safety, operation, maintenance, process safety, and quality.

Sources of Root Cause Analysis Failures by Mark Paradies is published by:

Quasar (Members Magazine of BARQA, British Association of Research Quality Assurance) No. 118 Pages 7 – 10, Jan 2012.

Used by Permission.

How Many Days Until the 2012 GLOBAL TapRooT® SUMMIT? Just 42!

January 17th, 2012 by

If you have already signed up for the TapRooT® Summit, have you made sure that others in your company who should be there have signed up?

Here’s a link to the TapRooT® Summit Brochure that you can pass along to them as a reminder …

2012 TapRooT Global Summit

Press Release from the US Chemical Safety Board: CSB Report Finds that Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Facilities Present Hazards to Members of the Public, Especially Children

October 27th, 2011 by

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CSB Issues Recommendations to EPA, State Regulators, NFPA, and API Aimed at Increasing Oil Site Safety and Security

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Hattiesburg, MS, October 27, 2011 – The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) today released a new study of explosions at oil and gas production sites across the U.S., identifying 26 incidents since 1983 that killed 44 members of the public and injured 25 others under the age of 25, and is calling for new public protection measures at the sites.

The report examined in detail three explosions that occurred at oil and gas production facilities in Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas, that killed and injured members of the public between October 2009 and April 2010.

The CSB report found that children and young adults frequently socialize at oil sites in rural areas, unaware of the explosion hazards from storage tanks that contain flammable hydrocarbons like crude oil and natural gas condensate.  The unintentional introduction of an ignition source (such as a match, lighter, cigarette, or static electricity) near tank hatches or vents can trigger an internal tank explosion, often launching the tank into the air and killing or injuring people nearby. The report identified regulatory gaps at the federal and state levels and called on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state regulatory bodies to improve current safety and security measures at exploration and production sites such as warning signs, full fencing, locked gates, locks on tank hatches, and other physical barriers. The report also called on state regulators in Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas to require safer, modern tank designs that reduce the likelihood of an internal tank explosion if an ignition source is inadvertently introduced nearby.

On October 31, 2009, two teenagers, aged 16 and 18, were killed when a storage tank containing natural gas condensate exploded at a rural gas production site in Carnes, Mississippi. Six months later a group of youths were exploring a similar tank site in Weleetka, Oklahoma, when an explosion and fire fatally injured one individual. Two weeks later, a 25-year-old man and a 24-year-old woman were on top of an oil tank in rural New London, Texas, when the tank exploded, killing the woman and seriously injuring the man. The CSB deployed investigators to all three sites to collect information on the incidents.

Investigators found that the three accidents occurred in isolated, rural wooded areas at production sites that were unfenced, did not have clear or legible warning signs and did not have hatch locks to prevent access to the flammable hydrocarbons inside the tanks.

CSB Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso said, “After reviewing the work of our investigators I believe that these incidents were entirely preventable. Basic security measures and warning signs – as well as more safely designed storage tanks – will essentially prevent kids from being killed in tank explosions at these sites.”

The CSB’s investigation found a few major cities and some states, such as California and Ohio, already require varying levels of security for oil and gas production sites, such as fencing, locked or sealed tank hatches, and warning signs. As a result, California did not appear to have any fatal tank explosions between 1983 and 2011. However, many other large oil and gas producing states have no such requirements. The major oil producing states Texas and Oklahoma require fencing and warning signs for certain sites that have toxic gas hazards but not for all sites with flammable storage tanks.

“Oil and gas storage sites are part of the landscape in many rural American communities; hundreds of thousands of similar sites are located across the country,” said CSB Lead Investigator Vidisha Parasram. “It was a concern to discover that issues related to public safety are rarely considered prior to placement and design of these sites. In many cases sites can be as close as 150 to 300 feet from existing buildings such as residences, schools, and churches, and still lack any meaningful warnings or barriers to prevent public access.”

Among the six formal safety recommendations in the report, the Board urged that state regulators require the use of inherently safety tank design features such as flame arrestors, pressure-vacuum vents, floating roofs, and vapor recovery systems. The safety measures, which are similar to those already in use in refineries and other downstream storage tanks, reduce the emissions of flammable vapor from the tanks or otherwise prevent an external flame from igniting vapor inside tanks.

“The goal of this investigative study is to issue recommendations that will effectively address the current gaps that exist at the state and federal level, said Dr. Moure-Eraso. “As I have seen firsthand, these sites can be dangerous to the people who live and work in these communities and should be properly designed and protected.”

The Board recommended that EPA issue a safety bulletin warning of the explosion hazards of storage tanks, describe the importance of increased security measures such as fencing, gates and signs, and recommend the use of inherently safer storage tank design.  Similarly, the CSB’s recommendations seek to address the current gaps in regulations and codes in Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas.

The CSB’s investigation also examined industry codes and standards, such as those from the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The final report recommends that both organizations adequately address the hazards that these sites present to members of the public through amendments to their existing codes or creation of additional guidance.

As a result of the investigation’s findings the CSB recommended that API warn of the explosion hazards presented by exploration and production sites, including requirements for security measures such as fencing gates and signs, recommendations for inherently safer storage tank design and acknowledgment of the public safety issue presented by these sites. Similarly the CSB recommended that NFPA amend NFPA 30 “Storage of Liquids in Tanks – Requirements for all Storage Tanks” to adequately describe unmanned extraction and production sites and include information in a relevant security standard that offers specifications on fencing and locks.

Chairman Moure-Eraso said, “As the demand for domestic energy resources continues to grow and the number of active extraction and production sites continues to rise steadily, it is important to ensure that these sites have the appropriate safeguards to save young people’s lives.”

On April 13, 2011, the CSB held a news conference and public meeting in Hattiesburg to release the safety video “No Place to Hang Out: The Danger of Oil Well Sites.”The video is aimed at educating young people about the hazards associated with oil storage tanks. In the video the CSB interviewed teenagers and adults who stated that it is a common practice in rural areas for young people to hang out and socialize at oil production sites.

To view the CSB’s final report click here.

To view the CSB’s safety video “No Place to Hang Out: The Danger of Oil Well Sitesclick here.

The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating serious chemical accidents. The agency’s board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in safety management systems. The Board does not issue citations or fines but does make safety recommendations to companies, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA. Please visit our website,

Contact: For more information, contact Communications Manager Hillary Cohen at 202-446-8094 or via email at or Sandy Gilmour at 202-261-7614 or cell 202-251-5496 or via email at

Monday Accident & Lessons Learned: Derailment in Summit Tunnel, Near Todmorden, West Yorkshire, UK

October 24th, 2011 by

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The UK Rail Accident Investigation Branch has published a report about a train derailment in Summit Tunnel, near Todmorden, West Yorkshire, UK.

Here’s the summary from their press release:

In the early hours of 28 December 2010, a passenger train was travelling from Manchester to Leeds when it struck a large amount of ice that had fallen onto the tracks from a ventilation shaft in Summit tunnel.  All wheels of the front bogie were derailed to the left in the direction of travel causing the front driving cab of the train to strike the tunnel wall.  The train remained upright and once it had stopped, the train crew took action to protect the train and raise the alarm.  About three hours later, the passengers and train crew had been led out of the tunnel by the emergency services.  No injuries were reported, while the train suffered damage to its cab windscreen, a coupler, bodywork and underframe. There was minor damage to the track.

The ice formed as water, seeping through the lining of a ventilation shaft, froze during a long period of freezing temperatures.  This ice fell onto the track after a thaw which started on 27 December 2010.  The train, which was the first to pass through the tunnel in over three days due to the Christmas holiday period, then collided with it.  A combination of factors led to this accident:

  • the risk of ice, particularly ice falls onto the track, was not identified before the train service resumed so the train was allowed to enter Summit tunnel while running at its maximum permitted speed; and
  • the routine maintenance regime did not identify excessive ice in the tunnel and no additional inspections were carried out.

The RAIB has made five recommendations, all directed to Network Rail.

The first recommendation relates to how water in Summit tunnel is managed.

The second is about identifying those structures which are at risk from extreme weather and then checking they are safe to use after periods when no trains have been running.

The third calls for the potential hazards due to extreme weather and thaw conditions to be taken into account in Network Rail’s weather management processes.

The fourth calls for training and information to be given to staff who need to carry out the additional inspection of structures that are at risk in extreme cold weather.

The fifth relates to the management of safety related information (and details of actions taken) that is passed from Network Rail’s buildings and civils – asset management function to other parts of the company.

For the complete report and lessons learned, see:

NTSB Releases Accident Report on California Pipeline Explosion

September 27th, 2011 by

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Here’s a link to a summary on the NTSB web site:

Here’s the report:

Here is a CBS story about the report:

Here’s video of the NTSB press conference:

White Paper Available: "The Advantages & Disadvantages of 12-Hour Shifts: A Balanced Perspective"

September 15th, 2011 by

Circadian Technologies has published a white paper titled:

The Advantages & Disadvantages of 12-Hour Shifts:
A Balanced Perspective

Their press release states:

12-hour shifts remain a much-debated topic in 24-hour operations. Do they cost more than 8-hour shifts? Are they safe? What impact do they have on alertness, health and productivity?

CIRCADIAN®, the global leader in providing 24/7 workforce performance and safety solutions for businesses that operate around the clock, has collected considerable data on the benefits and complications of 12-hour shifts. The goal of this white paper is to provide you with a balanced perspective of 12-hour shifts – one that will examine the pros and cons from both a management and shiftworker perspective.

Here’s the link to register to receive this report:

If you are interested in preventing fatigue and developing a fatigue risk management program, sign up for the:

Fatigue Risk Management Training

being held on February 27-28, 2012, in Las Vegas just prior to the TapRooT® Summit.

This training, being provided by Circadian Technologies, will help you:

• Design and implement a cost-effective Fatigue-Risk Management System

• Assess the risks and costs of fatigue in your business

• Determine safe staffing levels and optimal shift/duty patterns for your operation

• Train employees and supervisors to mitigate fatigue risk

• Improve employee health, safety, and quality of life

Also, the Summit (February 29 – March 2 in Las Vegas) has two sessions on fatigue as well as other sessions on improving human performance. Don’t miss it!

BOEMRE Releases Deepwater Horizon Report

September 14th, 2011 by

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Here’s a link to the report:

Here’s a link to The Wall Street Journal article about the report:

I’ve just started reading the report so … no comments for now.

How much does an Accident cost? See OSHA's "$afety Pays" calculation.

September 6th, 2011 by

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OSHA has an on-line calculator to help you find the total cost of an accident. See it at:

This calculator is very similar to the rough estimate provided in the TapRooT® Book.

For more information on the basis for this calculator, see:

Monday Accident & Lessons Learned: UK RAIB investigation report on the safety of automatic open level crossings

September 5th, 2011 by

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From the report:


Following the fatal accident at Halkirk automatic open level crossing, Caithness, on 29 September 2009, the RAIB decided to carry out two separate investigations. The first of these was into the Halkirk accident1, while the second was to investigate the more general safety issues associated with automatic open level crossings installed on Network Rail’s managed infrastructure. This report addresses the more general safety issues.

The RAIB’s investigation confirmed that automatic open level crossings, which are protected only by road traffic light signals, and have no barriers, are the highest risk form of level crossing for vehicle drivers on public roads, and some of them have a significant history of incidents and accidents.

The investigation found that the lack of barriers at automatic open level crossings is the most significant factor contributing to vehicle drivers passing the road traffic light signals when they are operating, either deliberately or as a genuine error. The RAIB considers that the crossings with the highest risk of collision between trains and road vehicles should be upgraded, probably by fitting half barriers, but there may be other means which deliver an equivalent or better level of safety (eg closure).

The high cost of new level crossings is a reason why it can be difficult to justify upgrading existing crossings based on a cost benefit analysis. However, a system is being developed to retro-fit half barriers to existing automatic open crossings at a much lower cost than that of a new crossing. If this initiative is successful, it will be easier to justify the upgrade of existing crossings. The RAIB believes that this work should be prioritised accordingly.

The safety of level crossings can be improved by taking action against vehicle drivers who deliberately pass the flashing red lights. Where this behaviour is prevalent, red light enforcement equipment is a deterrent. The RAIB believes that the development of fixed digital cameras and their installation at selected level crossings, particularly in combination with greater penalties, would be beneficial in improving safety and should be prioritised.

The identification of factors at each crossing that lead to deliberate risk taking behaviour or genuine errors would enable appropriate risk reduction measures to be implemented. The RAIB believes that the existing risk assessments of automatic open level crossings should be reviewed to check whether all the relevant factors have been identified, and to determine whether additional mitigation measures are required.

Finally, the RAIB believes that Network Rail’s process covering the risk assessment of level crossings should include guidance to its staff on how to identify the relevant human factors, and take account of the associated risk, at specific level crossings in order to determine the adequacy of existing mitigation measures and the need for additional measures. This builds upon a similar recommendation the RAIB made following its investigation of the Halkirk accident.

For the complete report, see:

New White Paper Available from Circadian Technologies: "The Evolution of Fatigue Risk Management Systems"

August 24th, 2011 by

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Circadian Technologies has published a new white paper titled:

The Evolution of Fatigue Risk Management Systems

Just click on the link above to go to their web site to register to receive the paper.

If you want even more information, consider attending the course being provided by Circadian Technologies prior to the TapRooT® Summit:

Fatigue Risk Management Training

Just click on the course link above to get more information and to register.

Also, Bill Sirois, COO at Circadian Technologies, will be providing two talks about fatigue and fatigue risk management at the TapRooT® Summit. For complete Summit info, see:

Monday Accident & Lessons Learned: UK RAIB Report on Accident at Falls of Cruachan, Argyll 6 June 2010

August 22nd, 2011 by

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At 20:55 hrs on Sunday 6 June 2010, the 18:20 hrs train from Glasgow Queen Street to Oban struck a boulder that had fallen onto the track just west of the station at Falls of Cruachan, in the Pass of Brander, on the line from Crianlarich to Oban. The boulder lifted up the front coach of the two-coach train and derailed it to the left and down an embankment. The leading bogie of the rear coach came to a stand supported by the boulder with the rear bogie still on the track.

Of the 64 passengers and three crew on the train, eight of the passengers were taken to hospital with minor injuries.

The boulder had fallen down the cutting slope onto the railway from within the railway boundary. It had become insecure due to the growth of tree roots around it, which gradually prised it from its stable position, and soil erosion from normal rainfall. Network Rail’s earthworks management system applied to cutting slopes had not identified the hazard of loose boulders in the area that the accident occurred.

The RAIB has made five recommendations to Network Rail relating to the management of earthworks. These include:

• improving the clearance of vegetation growing on earthworks so that hazards to the safety of railway operation can be identified;

• improvements to the collection of slope data so that a full appreciation of the condition of slopes is obtained; and

• improvements to the process for the implementation of remediation works to prevent future earthworks failures.

A further recommendation has been made relating to the prevention of lighting diffusers and other saloon panels on rolling stock becoming displaced during accidents.

For the whole report, see:

Mark Publish an Article in The Compass – "Root Cause Analysis & I2P2"

July 11th, 2011 by

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Read the article (pages 6 and 7) in The Compass at:

The Compass is a technical publication of ASSE’s Management Practice Specialty.

7 Tips for Enhancing Alertness at Work – From Circadian Technologies

June 28th, 2011 by

Circadian Technologies will be presenting a pre-Summit course on Fatigue Risk Management and two breakout sessions in different tracks at the Global TapRooT® Summit. But before you can attend these sessions, I thought that readers might want to learn just a little about the knowledge available from Circadian Technologies. Therefore, I’ve posted this link to a recent article they published titled:

7 Tips for Enhancing Alertness at Work

Just click on the title to read their advice.

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