Friday, July 14, 2017

Fireball set off explosion

A textbook example of a flash fire, explosion, secondary explosion, and criminal negligence from the Sarnia Observer.

"the amount of dust in the air made it impossible to see from one end of the shop to the other."

Trial continues Monday

Fireball set off explosion in Veolia shop

By Neil Bowen, Sarnia Observer

A fireball from an explosion in a dust collector set off another explosion inside a Sarnia shop during a 2014 incident that killed one worker and injured others.

Veolia Environmental Services and a company manager, Anthony Lavoratore, were charged with criminal negligence following the Oct. 25, 2014 fire and explosion that killed 37-year-old Jason Miller.

Miller was one of six men injured. He died days later in hospital.

Charges were laid in 2015 and the trial began during January in Sarnia court but has been spread over many days during the past seven months.

The shop was used to melt aluminum wire and spray it on pipes as an anti-corrosion treatment. Dust was created during the process.

A worker has testified the amount of dust in the air made it impossible to see from one end of the shop to the other.

The dust is combustible but the Material Safety Data Sheet for the wire being used cited no explosive hazard.

The incident began with a flash fire outside a dust collector parked outside the Scott Road shop. Then there was an explosion inside the collector that set a fireball rolling across the parking lot.
The fireball also went into the shop through a partially opened overhead door and flexible rubber ducts sucking dust from the shop and into the collector.

The dust in the collector could have been ignited by a hot particle sucked from the shop, static electricity inside the collector or friction created by an auger moving dust through the collector, said James Bennett, a technical expert from the Office of the Fire Marshal who testified Wednesday.
There was no way to determine which possible source ignited the dust. Bennett had examined the scene on the day after the explosion and reviewed a video recording of the explosion captured by a surveillance camera at an adjacent building.

Dust was the only available fuel for the explosions, said Bennett.

The force of the dust collector explosion sent dust into the air inside the shop that was ignited by the fireball.

It took just one second for the second explosion to occur, said Bennett referring to the time recording on the video.

The second explosion damaged the walls, windows and roof of the shop.
“It was a fairly significant explosion,” said Bennett.

Inside the shop there was a very fine, whitish gray material on the floor. Water had turned the material, aluminum dust, almost into a mud, said Bennett referring to his site examination.

The water inside and around the building came from the firefighting following the explosion.
Bennett rejected a suggestion by defence lawyers dust from the collector was carried into the shop and feed the second explosion. It would not have been enough to create the size of the explosion that occurred, said Bennett.

Bennett was the last Crown witness scheduled for this week and the case was adjourned until Monday.

Two more Crown witnesses are expected to testify.

It is anticipated all Crown and defence evidence will finish next week. Written submissions to the judge will be done prior to October. The lawyers’ final courtroom submissions to the judge are expected in October.

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Behaviour-Based Safety debate goes on


Behavior-based safety has been practiced since the Ford Motor Company used it to increase seat belt usage in 1970s. Controversy has dogged it ever since, especially in the 1980s and 1990s when the BBS bandwagon attracted a small army of consultants.

Organized labor and worker rights activists protested long and loud that BBS was nothing more than a blame the worker tactic. Thousands of businesses spent millions of dollars implementing BBS programs because they believed it was a way to involve workers in their own safety and it was “the next new thing” in safety.

On Wednesday, June 23, a plenary session at ASSE’s Safety 2017 drew between 4,000 and 5,000 attendees to a spirited discussion on “BBS at cross roads.” What puts BBS at a cross roads in 2017? It’s the rising popularity of Human and Organizational Performance (HOP), called by some the anti-BBS initiative. HOP holds that human error is inevitable and should be expected. The organization of work and management systems must be vigorously in place to minimize mistakes and prevent their recurrence.

The open forum dialog featured Dr. E. Scott Geller, psychology professor at Virginia Tech and a senior partner with the consultancy Safety Performance Solutions defending BBS; and Dr. Todd Conklin, senior advisor to the associate director, Los Alamos National Laboratory, taking up the mantle of HOP. Both were accompanied on stage by clients using BBS and HOP respectively, and both were passionate in their views – to the extent that at the end of the session one attendee asked Drs. Geller and Conklin if there was anything the two could agree on. Putting their beliefs behind, the two hugged after the end of the session.

Interestingly, the town hall forum was moderated by Dr. Tom Krause of the Krause Bell Group consultancy, one of the pioneers of BBS as a co-founder of Behavioral Science Technology, Inc. (BST) in 1979. Dr. Krause has written in recent years that BBS should “evolve to a new species” and “the truth is, BBS is a mixed bag.”

“If your organization’s position on BBS is the same now that it was 5 or 10 or 20 years ago you are out of date,” writes Dr. Krause. “My colleagues and I established the effectiveness of BBS at reducing recordable rates. We also found that leadership and culture were critical variables and developed models to assess and improve them.

“From my perspective, BBS has been rightly criticized, and also improperly maligned; it has failed to evolve quickly enough, and the research that established it as effective in the first place has been largely abandoned. BBS has become over-commercialized, made into a commodity, over-sold and over-priced, and the original principles that it was built on have too often been forgotten. It is clear that unless major changes are made, BBS will gradually decline and eventually die,” writes Dr. Krause.

Dr. Geller has indeed made changes in his vision and execution of BBS. In recent years he has written and spoken extensively on Actively Caring for People (AC4P), which he calls humanistic behaviorism. AC4P goes beyond strict behaviorism to encompass humanism, as typified by Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs.” According to Dr. Geller, Maslow positioned self-transcendence at the top of his hierarchy. At this level people go beyond their self-interests and perform AC4P behavior, according to Dr. Geller, such as reporting a safety hazard or giving coworkers BBS feedback about their safe and/or at-risk behavior.

Dr. Geller also advocates embracing and practicing empathy. With empathy comes mutual understanding, appreciation, and acceptance of assignments and/or recommendations for change, he says.

So BBS has evolved. Certainly self-transcendence and empathy were not terms associated with BBS in its heyday.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

“You can’t fix stupid”


On Thursday, June 22, Dr. Tim Ludwig drew an audience of 500 attendees at ASSE’s Safety 2017 to his presentation on stopping the ever-popular blame game as a safety practice and instead striving for a better understanding of human behavior.

According to Dr. Ludwig, a professor at Appalachian State University, Boone, NC, if you want to “turn the lights off on your safety culture” go and blame the worker. By going on the offensive and pointing out that injuries are their fault, a learning moment is lost, Dr. Ludwig said. It’s better to use the incident to learn from behavioral science how to find the true root cause of human behaviors, he said.

There is still much relevance and much to be gained from behavioral science, said Dr. Ludwig, who also consults globally as the Safety-Doc.

Says Dr. Ludwig: “Our human tendencies result in interactions that hurt the safety of our workers and the effectiveness of the systems we put in place to protect them. One tendency is to blame workers for safety errors and label their personal failings as the cause of the error. Labeling does not solve problems that cause error and, frankly, it may all be an illusion of human perception leading us to false conclusions.

“We can’t perfect human nature. But we can change behavior. We know how; there is a science behind it. We can define behaviors in a way that are as open to unbiased analysis as the elements of physics and chemistry.

“For every safe behavior you want from your workers, there are a plethora of competing alternative behaviors that can put them at-risk. What determines this decision is predominantly the work context and your management systems. We want to build an alternative to labeling with dispassionate, actionable and effective analyses. This creates the context that helps workers discriminate the best behaviors for the situation.”

On Thursday, June 22, Dr. Tim Ludwig drew an audience of 500 attendees at ASSE’s
Safety 2017 to his presentation on stopping the ever-popular blame game
as a safety practice and instead striving for a better understanding of
human behavior.