Category: Accidents

Remembering an Accident: 23 killed in Phillips Pasadena Explosion

October 23rd, 2017 by

On October 23, 1989, the Phillips Chemical Plant exploded killing 23 people. Here’s a video about the accident that was one of the accidents that lead to the development of the OSHA Process Safety Management Standard.

Major disasters are often wake-up calls for how important it is to ensure that they never happen again.

TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis is taught globally to help industries avoid them. Our 5-Day TapRooT® Advanced Root Cause Analysis Team Leader Training offers advanced tools and techniques to find and fix root causes reactively and significant issues that may lead to major problems proactively.

Register today: TapRooT® Advanced Root Cause Analysis Team Leader Training

Monday Accident & Lesson Learned: Forklift driver jailed after fatal accident

October 23rd, 2017 by

A forklift driver was jailed after two bundle of steel bars fell from his forklift and killed a man. The article alleges that what the driver did “was against safety practices that he was taught during training.” Click here to read the story about the incident on The Straits Times.

What Does a Bad Day Look Like?

October 19th, 2017 by

Stretcher fails!

Monday Accident & Lessons Learned: How to Stop a Pellet Plant Explosion

October 16th, 2017 by

“One single ounce of oxygen. That’s all it would have taken for an explosion to have occurred… ”

While the potential for explosion is common for this industry, new learnings and experiences are being shared so that the industry is safer.

Read How to Stop a Pellet Plant Explosion on Canadian Biomass Magazine

Monday Accident & Lessons Learned: Mid-flight engine explosion forces landing

October 9th, 2017 by

“We looked out the window and saw half of the engine was missing.”

A rare emergency in which machinery and other parts broke away from a plane at high velocity occurred on an Airbus A380 with 500 passengers bound for Los Angeles.

The U.S. manufacturer of the engine, Connecticut-based Engine Alliance, said it was investigating the failure.

Read the article on NBC News.

Why is Root Cause Analysis Applied Reactively More Than Proactively?

October 3rd, 2017 by

I attended an interesting talk on the brain yesterday and had a different perspective on why so many managers are reactive rather than being proactive.

What do I mean by that? Managers wait to start improvement efforts until after something BAD happens rather than using a constant improvement effort to avoid accidents before they happen.

What about “human nature” (or the brain or neuropsychology) makes us that way? It has to do with the strongest human motivators.

Dr. Christophe  Morin said that research shows that the most recognizable human emotions expressed in facial expressions are:

  • Fear
  • Sadness
  • Disgust
  • Anger
  • Surprise
  • Trust
  • Joy
  • Anticipation

What draws our attention the most? Fear and Anger.

It seems that fear and ager catch our eye because they could indicate danger. And avoiding danger is what our primitive brain (or reptilian brain) is wired to do. Before we have any conscious thought, we decide if we need to run or fight (the fight or flight reaction).

What does this have to do with root cause analysis and reactive and proactive improvement?

What happens after an accident? FEAR!

Fear of being fired if you did the wrong thing.

Fear of looking bad to your peers.

Fear of lower management getting a bad review from upper management if your people look bad.

And even fear of consequences (lower earnings and lower stock price and a reaction from the board) for upper management if the accident is bad enough and gets national press coverage.

Even senior managers may get fired after a particularly disastrous accident.

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So fear drives behavior in many cases.

Management is much more likely to spend valuable resources when they are afraid (after an accident) than before the accident when the fear is much less and the promise of improvement through proactive improvement may bring joy or the anticipation of success.

Thus, management focuses on root cause analysis for accidents and incidents rather than applying it to assessments, audits, and peer reviews.

Can your management overcome human nature and apply root cause analysis before an accident happens or do they have to wait for a disaster to learn? That may be the difference between great leaders and managers waiting to be fired.

Don’t wait. Start applying advanced root cause analysis – TapRooT® – today to prevent future accidents.

Attend one of our public 5-Day TapRooT® Advanced Root Cause Team Leader Courses to learn how to apply TapRooT® reactively and proactively.

Monday Accidents & Lessons Learned: Fatal Collision between Tram and Pedestrian

October 2nd, 2017 by

 

A tram driver did not see a pedestrian approach a crossing. There were many contributing factors. Read the RAIB report and the lessons learned here.

How Far Away is Death?

September 28th, 2017 by

Mix-up of similar insulin product names (Read article.)

Radiation Release – Time for Root Cause Analysis

September 27th, 2017 by

A National Institute of Standards and Technology employee was exposed to radiation when a glass ampule broke.

Time for root cause analysis?

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has sent a team to investigate.

See the article at THIS LINK.

Generic Cause Analysis of the Navy’s Ship Collision/Grounding Problems

September 26th, 2017 by

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First, let me state that the reason I seem to be carried away by the failures of the Navy to implement good root cause analysis is that I spent seven years in the Navy and have compassion for the officers and sailors that are being asked to do so much. Our sailors and officers at sea are being asked to do more than we should ask them to do. The recent fatalities are proof of this and are completely avoidable. The Navy’s response so far has been inadequate at best.

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What should the Navy being doing? A thorough, advanced root cause analysis and generic cause analysis of the collisions and grounding in the 7th Fleet. And if you know me, you know that I think they should be using TapRooT® to do this.

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In TapRooT®, once you complete the analysis of the specific causes of a particular accident/incident, the next step is to identify the Generic Causes of the problems that caused that particular incident. Generic Causes are:

Generic Cause

The systemic cause that allows a root cause to exist.
Fixing the Generic Cause eliminates whole classes of specific root causes.

The normal process for finding generic causes is to look at each specific root cause that you have identified using the Root Cause Tree® and see if there is a generic causes using a three step process. The three steps are:

  1. Review the “Ideas for Generic Problems” section of the Corrective Action Helper® Guide for the root causes you have identified.
  2. Ask: “Does the same problem exist in more places?
  3. Ask: “What in the system is causing this Generic Cause to exist?”

It is helpful to have a database of thoroughly investigated previous problems when answering these question.

TapRooT® Users know about the Root Cause Tree® and the Corrective Action Helper® Guide and how to use them to perform advanced root cause analysis and develop effective corrective actions. If you haven’t been trained to use the TapRooT® System, I would recommend attending the 5-Day Advanced TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Team Leader Training or reading the TapRooT® Essentials & Major Investigations Books.

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Unfortunately, we don’t have all the data from the recent and perhaps still incomplete Navy investigations to perform a TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis. What do we have? The press releases and news coverage of the accidents. From that information we can get a hint at the generic causes for these accidents.

Before I list the generic causes we are guessing at and discuss potential fixes, here is a disclaimer. BEFORE I would guarantee that these generic causes are accurate and that these corrective actions would be effective, I would need to perform an in-depth investigation and root cause analysis of the recent accidents and then determine the generic causes. Since that is not possible (the Navy is not a TapRooT® User), the following is just a guess based on my experience…

GENERIC CAUSES

1. INADEQUATE NUMBER OF SHIPS FOR THE USA FOREIGN POLICY COMMITMENTS

2. INADEQUATE STAFFING OF THE SHIPS WE HAVE

3. INADEQUATE TRAINING OF THE CREWS OF THE SHIPS WE HAVE

4. INADEQUATE WATCH SCHEDULES AND PRIORITIZATION OF TASKS FOR UNDERWAY REQUIREMENTS

5. INAEQUATE CREW TEAMWORK AND CREW TEAMWORK TRAINING

Some of these problems should be fairly easy to fix in six months to two years. Others will be difficult to fix and may take a decade if there is the will to invest in a capable fleet. All of the problems must be fixed to significantly reduce the risk of these types of accidents in the future. Without fixes, the blood of sailors killed in future collisions will be on the hands of current naval leadership.

POTENTIAL FIXES

5. INAEQUATE CREW TEAMWORK AND CREW TEAMWORK TRAINING

  • Establish a crew teamwork training class oriented toward surface ship bridge watch operations that can be accomplished while ships are in port.
  • Conduct the training for all ships on a prioritized basis.
  • Integrate the training into junior officer training courses and department head and perspective XO and CO training.
  • Conduct underway audits to verify the effectiveness of the training, perhaps during shipboard refresher training and/or by type command staffs.

4. INADEQUATE WATCH SCHEDULES AND PRIORITIZATION OF TASKS FOR UNDERWAY REQUIREMENTS

  • Develop a standard watch rotation schedule to minimize fatigue.
  • Review underway requirements and prioritize to allow for adequate rest.
  • Allow daytime sleeping to reduce fatigue.
  • Minimize noise during daytime sleeping hours to allow for rest.
  • Review underway drills and non-essential training that adds to fatigue. Schedule drills and training to allow for daytime sleeping hours.
  • Train junior officers, senior non-commissions officers, department heads, XOs, and COs in fatigue minimization strategies.
  • Implement a fatigue testing strategy for use to evaluate crew fatigue and numerically score fatigue to provide guidance for CO’s when fatigue is becoming excessive.

3. INADEQUATE TRAINING OF THE CREWS OF THE SHIPS WE HAVE

This corrective action is difficult because a through training requirement analysis must be conducted prior to deciding on the specifics of the corrective actions listed here. However, we will once again guess at some of the requirements that need to be implemented that are not listed above.

a. SEAMANSHIP/SHIP DRIVING/STATION KEEPING

Driving a ship is a difficult challenge. Much harder than driving a car. In my controls and human factors class I learned that it was a 2nd or 3rd order control problem and these types of problems are very difficult for humans to solve. Thus ship drivers need lots of training and experience to be good. It seems the current training given and experience achieved are insufficient. Thus these ideas should be considered:

  • A seamanship training program be developed based on best human factors and training practices including performing a ship driving task analysis, using simulation training, models in an indoor ship basin, and developing shipboard games that can be played ashore or at sea to reinforce the ship handling lessons. These best practices and training tools can be built into the training programs suggested below.
  • Develop ship handing course for junior officers to complete before they arrive at their first ship to learn and practice common ship handling activities like man overboard, coming alongside (replenishment at sea), station keeping, maneuvering in restricted waters, contact tracking and avoidance in restricted waters.
  • Develop an advanced ship handing corse for department heads that refreshes/tests their ship handling skills and teaches them how to coach junior officers to develop their ship handling skills. This course should include simulator training and at sea ship handling practice including docking scenarios, anchoring, restricted waters, and collision avoidance.
  • Develop an advanced ship handling course for COs/XOs to refresh/test their ship handling skills and check their ability to coach junior officers ship handling skills. This course should include simulator training and at sea ship handling practice including docking scenarios, anchoring, restricted waters, and collision avoidance. The course should also include training on when the CO should be on the bridge and their duties when overseeing bridge operations in restricted waters including when to take control if the ship is in extremis (and practice of this skill).
  • Develop a simulator test for junior officers, department heads, XOs, and COs to test their ship handing and supervisory skills to be passed before reporting to a ship.
  • Develop bridge team training to be carried out onboard each ship to reinforce crew teamwork training.

b. NAVIGATION

  • Perform a task analysis of required navigation shipboard duties including new technology duties and duties if technology fails (without shipboard computerized aids).
  • Develop a navigation training program based on the task analysis for junior officers, department heads, XOs, and COs. This program should completed prior to shipboard tours and should include refresher training to be accomplished periodically while at sea.

c. ROOT CAUSE ANALYSIS

  • Develop a department head leadership program to teach advanced root cause analysis for shipboard incidents.
  • Develop a junior officer root cause analysis course for simple (lower risk) problem analysis.
  • Develop a senior officer root cause analysis training program for XOs, COs, and line admiralty to teach advanced root cause analysis and review requirements when approving root cause analyses performed under their command. (Yes – the Navy does NOT know how to do this based on the current status of repeat incidents.)

2. INADEQUATE STAFFING OF THE SHIPS WE HAVE

  • Develop a senior officer (Captain and above) training program to teach when a CO or line responsible admiral should “push back” when given too demanding an operational schedule. This ability to say “no” should be based on testable, numerically measurable statistics. For example, shipboard fatigue testing, number of days at sea under certain levels of high operating tempo, number of days at sea without a port call, staffing levels in key jobs, …
  • Review undermanning and conduct a root cause analysis of the current problems being had at sea and develop an effective program to support at sea commands with trained personnel.

1. INADEQUATE NUMBER OF SHIPS FOR THE USA FOREIGN POLICY COMMITMENTS

  • Develop a numerically valid and researched guidance for the number of ships required to support deployed forces in the current operating tempo.
  • Use the guidance developed above to demonstrate to the President and Congress the need for additional warships.
  • Evaluate the current mothball fleet and decide how many ships can be rapidly returned to service to support the current operating tempo.
  • Review the mothballed nuclear cruiser and carrier fleet to see if ships can be refueled, updated, and returned to service to support current operating tempo and create a better nuclear surface fleet carrier path.
  • Establish a new ship building program to support a modern 400 ship Navy by 2030.
  • Establish a recruiting and retention program to ensure adequate staff for the increased surface fleet.

Note that these are just ideas based on a Generic Cause Analysis of press releases and news reports. Just a single afternoon was spent by one individual developing this outline. Because of the magnitude of this problem and the lives at stake, I would recommend a real TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis of at least the last four major accidents and a Generic Cause Analysis of those incidents before corrective actions are initiated.

Of course, the Navy is already initiating corrective actions that seem to put the burden of improvement on the Commanding Officers who don’t have additional resources to solve these problems. Perhaps the Navy can realize that inadequate root cause analysis can be determined by the observation of repeat accidents and learn to adopt and apply advanced root cause analysis and support it from the CNO to the Chiefs and Junior Officers throughout the fleet. Then senior Navy officials can stand up and request from Congress and the President the resources needed to keep our young men and women safe at sea.

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Monday Accidents & Lessons Learned: ExxonMobil Baton Rouge Refinery Isobutane Release and Fire

September 25th, 2017 by

On November 22, 2016, an isobutane release and fire seriously injured four workers in the sulfuric acid alkylation unit at the ExxonMobil Refinery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana (“Baton Rouge refinery”). During removal of an inoperable gearbox on a plug valve, the operator performing this activity removed critical
bolts securing the pressure-retaining component of the valve known as the top-cap. When the operator then attempted to open the plug valve with a pipe wrench, the valve came apart and released isobutane into the unit, forming a flammable vapor cloud. The isobutane reached an ignition source within 30 seconds of the release, causing a fire and severely burning four workers who were unable to exit the vapor cloud before it ignited.

Read key lessons learned from this incident here.

How Far Away is Death?

September 21st, 2017 by

Monday Accidents & Lessons Learned: Five People Die After Using Weight Loss Balloons

September 18th, 2017 by

 

According to the Food & Drug Administration’s report, five people have died since 2016 after being treated with weight loss balloon devices. The science behind this technology is that the balloon takes up space in the stomach after being filled with solution and this leaves less room in the stomach for food. The balloon is left in the patient’s stomach for six months while the patient learns to eat differently.

The five deaths occurred within a month of balloon placement.  We know that four of the deaths involved a balloon from the same manufacturer. However, nothing has been found linking the deaths to the medical device. In the TapRooT® System, an investigator would examine an incident like this by first creating a sequence of events. Once the sequence of events is completed,  more information would be collected.  For example:

Did the patient understand the risks?

Was the patient closely monitored by the healthcare team for possible deteriorations?

Did the patient understand which symptoms required medical assistance?

These are just a few of the types of questions that should be answered to help determine all the Causal Factors. There could be multiple things that went wrong. TapRooT® doesn’t stop at Causal Factors. Each Causal Factor is taken through the TapRooT® Root Cause Tree to find the Root Causes. Just like there may be (and probably is) more than one Causal Factor, there is probably more than one Root Cause that needs to be fixed to prevent this from happening again.

Mark Paradies recently posted an article that may be helpful in a situation like this, “Root Cause Analysis for the FDA.”

It takes some deep diving to understand all of the lessons learned here. Learn more about how to prevent unnecessary deaths like this in one of our upcoming 5-Day TapRooT® Advanced Root Cause Analysis Team Leader Trainings:

October 2: Knoxville, Tennessee

October 16: Orlando, Florida

October 23: Bogota, Colombia (Spanish)

October 30: Reykjavik, Iceland

November 13: Brisbane, Australia

November 13: New Orleans

November 27: Johannesburg, South Africa

November 27: Monterrey, Mexico

November 27: Perth, Australia

What would your management do to avoid scenes like these?

September 18th, 2017 by

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Are they ready to improve their company’s root cause analysis?

Monday Accident and Lesson Learned: Eyes-only inspection didn’t see Ohio fair ride’s corrosion

September 11th, 2017 by

An 18-year-old man lost his life and seven others were injured when an amusement park ride ripped apart. Hidden corrosion may be what caused the malfunction. States set their own rules on ride testing and many do not have the resources to conduct nondestructive testing on their own.

Read:

Eyes-only inspection didn’t see Ohio fair ride’s corrosion

on USA Today.

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