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As far as workplace safety goes, there’s no difference in injuries suffered by temps or full-time employees doing the same job, right? New information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says, not necessarily.

In its first look at safety for workers in the gig economy, BLS says the proportion of falls, slips and trips that caused fatalities was 71% higher in what the agency calls “independent workers” compared to all other workers.

For independent workers, fatalities from exposure to harmful substances or environments were 18% more likely, and deaths from contact with objects or equipment were 25% more likely.

During 2016-17, independent workers accounted for 12% of all workplace fatalities.

The occupation with the largest number of fatalities to independent workers was heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers (173 deaths), followed by first-line supervisors for construction and extraction workers (95 deaths), and then construction laborers (79 deaths).

BLS notes independent workers are considered to be an at-risk group because of their changing employment situations, which puts them at greater risk for poorer workplace safety and health.

Why are these workers at greater risk?

  • They’re assigned more hazardous work, and because of their employment situations, they’re more reluctant to object
  • They’re more likely to lack specific training
  • They’re less likely to have access to sufficient PPE
  • When it comes to workers hired through an agency, there’s sometimes confusion about who handles safety training – the agency or host employer, and
  • Due to a lack of paid sick leave, independent workers are more likely to work while sick which increases the chance of injury.

    What can employers do to protect independent workers?

  • Figure out ahead of time who is responsible for workplace safety training (agency or host employer)
  • Make sure there’s a good flow of information about injuries between staffing agencies and host employers, and
  • Host employers should provide independent workers with safety training that’s identical to what full-time employees doing the same work receive.

    Note: BLS’s definition of independent workers includes not only people hired from an agency but also independent contractors, on-call employees and day laborers.



  • A quick identification of six electrical hazards to watch out for and how to reduce risk.

    The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) reported that there were 2,210 non-fatal electrical injuries in 2017. This was an increase of 35% as compared to 2016. These injuries could have been avoided by understanding common electrical hazards and conducting a regular electrical inspection. First, let’s go over the six mostcommon electrical hazards and how you can prevent or eliminate them:

    Overhead Power Lines

    They carry high voltages and can cause severe burns to the workers. Any contact with overhead power lines can result in electrocution. It is important to maintain distance from the overhead power lines and install safety barriers.

    Damaged Equipment

    Make sure all the tools and equipment are thoroughly checked for cuts, cracks, and damages on cords and wires. Replace or repair the damaged equipment immediately. Exposure to damaged tools can be extremely dangerous.

    Inadequate Wiring and Overloaded Circuits

    If you use wires of inappropriate size for current, it can cause overheating and electrical fires. Use a correct wire that is suitable for the required operation. Never overload an outlet and always use proper circuit breakers.

    Exposed Electrical Parts

    Exposed electrical parts may include open power distribution units, temporary lightning or detached insulation parts. These parts can cause shocks and burns. Secure the electrical parts with proper guarding mechanism and repair expose parts immediately.

    Improper Grounding

    You can eliminate the risk of electrocution by properly grounding the equipment. Never remove the metallic ground pin as it can return unwanted voltage to the ground.

    Damaged Insulation

    Damaged insulation can cause fires, shocks, and burns. Replace the damaged insulation and turn off all the power before doing so. Never cover the damaged insulation with electrical tape.

    How to Reduce Risk by Implementing Hierarchy of Controls:


    It is the most effective hazard control and it involves removing the hazard physically. For example, you can move the power control station from a raised platform to the ground level. This makes sure that the employees do not have to work at heights and risk a fall.


    Substitution is the second most effective hazard control. Here, you will have to replace a severe hazard with something that does not produce any hazard. Examples would be substituting floor paint with textured floor to prevent slips and falls or replacing lead-based paint with titanium white. For this hazard control to be effective, the replacement must not produce another hazard.

    Engineered Controls

    Next in the line comes engineered controls. It does not eliminate the hazards but helps in isolating people from hazards. It involves employing a physical barrier between the workers and the hazard.Some examples include machine guards, railings or locked-out machines. The cost of engineered controls would be higher initially but they result in minimizing future costs.

    Administrative Controls

    This is when you change the way people work in the facility. You can use specific policies that help in limiting employee exposure to a hazard.Administrative controls include employee training, procedural changes, installation of signs or putting up warning labels.

    Personal Protective Equipment

    Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) includes protective clothing and equipment that limit employee injuries from a harmful event. These include gloves, steel-toed boots, hard hats, arc-rated clothing, high-visibility clothing, a fall harness, and safety glasses. This is the least effective type of hazard control.

    Identifying electrical hazards and raising awareness about the same goes a long way in preventing electrical accidents. You can hit your safety goals by implementing the right measures within the facility. Never discount the electrical dangers present in your facility and constantly work towards mitigating the risks to create a safe working environment.


    Forklift safety needs to be a top priority in manufacturing and warehouse facilities.

    Forklifts are constantly in motion, playing a significant role in the world of commerce. With that notion, keeping safety top of mind is critical in material handling.

    Almost 100,000 accidents happen each year around forklifts. While even one injury or incident resulting from the misuse of forklifts is too many, there are tools and methods that can help create a safe environment and help avoid future occurrences. Some contributing factors to watch out for in helping to prevent accidents are workspace layout and design, inadequate training and improper maintenance. It’s essential to incorporate the right safety techniques in these key areas.


    Best practices in warehouse/pedestrian safety begin with the design of the workspace and understanding what the material flow and its frequency and volume is intended to be. A poorly designed material flow and aisle layout can be main contributors to forklift accidents.

    If a facility is operating multiple forklifts, whether it be the same model or different classes of trucks, make sure the design is built out effectively. Fleet managers may need to segregate the forklifts, so they are not traveling where they don’t belong. The workplace should be very organized and visually easy to manage. This can help contribute to a safer work environment. The design also needs to take into consideration the model of the truck in operation. Many trucks are not applicable for a particular environment. For instance, a class IV or V truck is just too big for a narrow aisle, and its turning radius may not be appropriate for an area designed for a class II vehicle. It’s important to identify the right type of forklift(s) for a specific workspace need.


    According to OSHA, 70% of all forklift accidents could be avoided with proper training and policy. While there is a misconception that a forklift feels similar to driving a car, there are differences. Not only are there multiple classes of forklifts, but each has its own application and environment to which it caters.

    Under OSHA laws and regulations, employers are required to train and evaluate forklift operators. Operator training typically begins in the classroom to understand the safety principles and the fundamentals of forklift operation and maintenance, like the proper way to get on and off the forklift and how to refuel or charge a battery. Training is specific to the model of forklift the operator will be authorized to operate.

    After educational training is complete, operators are then directed to a hands-on/practical interaction with the forklift, where they are placed into a safe environment for evaluation. It’s typically best practice to place the operator in an environment that is similar to what they would be doing, so they can be evaluated effectively. Employers ultimately are required by OSHA to evaluate the operator’s performance in the workplace.

    Retraining also is important for operators who have been in the field for a long time and is required at least once every three years. Many operators who have been in the business for a long time are noticing that a lot has changed over the years, especially related to technology. The skill set is changing as technology becomes more advanced. All drivers can benefit from a refresher training course.

    In addition, service technicians should have not only proper operating training but also proper technical training. This gives them the expertise needed to understand the proper operation, location and function of the safety features designed into the equipment and how to properly troubleshoot, diagnose and repair the truck safely.

    Many suppliers and OEMs are implementing these training methods in-house, but there are other sources that offer training like local community colleges and other third-party businesses. The challenge with using these types of resources is that scheduling does not always align with a facility’s timeline. It may be difficult to get someone trained and certified quickly, so in-house training is a great tool to have. Fleet managers never have to wait to train or retrain that next person, allowing operators and technicians to learn safe operating techniques sooner.


    OSHA regulation requires that every forklift is inspected each day before it is put into operation, which is a very important step. All facilities should have a comprehensive inspection checklist for each operator before the start of the shift. Completing this step fully can be challenging if a company has multiple drivers sharing a forklift throughout the work day. If something is identified that can affect forklift safety, it should be reported immediately, and the forklift should not be placed into service until it has been inspected and repaired. The same applies if the issue is found during the shift.

    While paper systems are still heavily used, there has been a move towards robust technology that electronically ties the operator to the forklift. These types of systems can also track when the inspection checklist has been completed.

    While daily checklists are required, it’s also important to implement a routine maintenance program. There are some potential serious consequences to operator and pedestrian safety if critical safety equipment or systems, like brakes or hydraulics, were to fail. Scheduled, preventive maintenance is not just a matter of replacing filters and oil, it includes checking key safety points like brakes, steering, emergency shut-off features and hydraulic systems.

    It’s crucial to employ trained and certified technicians to inspect and maintain the forklifts. The biggest factors are performing maintenance at a prescribed time that is outlined in a truck’s service manual and making sure technicians are equipped to service the machines.

    There are other risks that can contribute to diminished safety. Operators should always maintain control of the forklift and avoid turning with an elevated load. Never travel with an elevated load.

    In addition, excessive traveling speed can also have a negative effect on safety. Speed can be regulated with different controls on the forklift. What’s important is that each company should evaluate its own situation and set speed limits that make sense for its operators and the workspace environment. What’s just right for a lumberyard may not be the same as a company in the food and beverage industry.

    Most of the time, facilities will have operators and other workers around the forklift in the same area. Dedicated pedestrian walkways or color-coded surfaces that indicate areas for driving and walking are a good idea to help navigate parts of a facility. If this cannot be accomplished, it’s critical that non drivers and operators stay alert and always watch out for each other including when visibility is limited.

    There’s no doubt that over the years forklift technological advancements have helped improve safety, and OEMs are offering more features and options to help mitigate hazards in the workplace. Safety lighting such as blue spotlights and/or red zone lights being added to the equipment are relatively inexpensive while being very effective. Both types of lights can help pedestrians and others in the area where forklifts are working be more aware that a forklift is near them and to stay alert. Lighting can even be retrofitted to older forklifts and still be very effective.

    The growth of telematics is a key trend and many telematic options can be applied to forklifts. Telematics can help monitor and record driver behavior and results and can also track collisions, speed and location. This type of data is used to give proper feedback to employers and drivers, so they’re able to use it to modify behavior. Data can also shed light on the warehouse itself and whether or not improvements to the design and layout should be made.

    Other technological features like object detection sensors and cameras are also becoming more prevalent to help supplement the operator’s direct visibility. The object detection sensors found on forklifts are very similar to the ones applied to automobiles and can detect objects nearby. The beeping sound emerging from the object detection system helps communicate to the operator and identify objects in the travel path.

    There has also been an uptick in cameras and monitors being added to trucks to increase the operators’ direct visibility, both of their surroundings as well as to enhance their productivity and ergonomics. A 360-degree camera system provides a bird’s-eye view of where they are and what’s around them. Cameras mounted to forks or carriages help operators more accurately and efficiently engage pallets in high racks without having to crane their necks to see.

    Ergonomics is becoming more important to the design of the forklift, so that it’s easier to drive and more comfortable for the operator. Fingertip controls are becoming more commonplace, especially in Europe. While it is an option, operating a forklift that is ergonomically designed can help improve productivity, especially in instances where the operator has been driving the machine for an extended period of time.

    It’s important to note that there are ways to help create a safe environment every day. Determine what’s best for your operation when it comes to the workplace environment, how many and what types of forklifts your workers use each day and what the material flow will be, what can be done to improve maintenance, and whether or not you should use in-house training to get their operators in the field quicker.


    The time to put on your seat belt is not after you’ve been in a car accident.

    In 2017, there were 270,000 injuries reported in the transportation and warehousing industry. The same industry also saw 819 deaths, a number only surpassed by the construction industry. The number of preventable fatal work injuries in transportation and warehousing grew 5.3% from 2016 to 2017.1

    What do these statistics have to do with loading docks? More than 25% of all industrial accidents happen at the loading dock, and for every accident, there are about 600 near misses.2 If your job has anything to do with loading docks, these figures are meant to help you understand how important loading dock safety really is.

    Forklift Fall-Through

    One of the most dangerous types of accidents that occur at the loading dock is forklift fall-through. This type of accident happens as a trailer is being loaded or unloaded. Sometimes, the momentum of the forklift transfers to the trailer, causing it to move forward until it separates from the dock leveler. Other times, the truck driver thinks loading or unloading is complete and pulls away from the dock prematurely. When the forklift leaves the trailer, it falls into the gap. The forklift driver often falls out or tries to escape, and the forklift falls on him or her. The average forklift weighs as much as three cars.

    When a trailer backs up to a loading dock, the most common types of vehicle restraints capture or block the trailer’s rear impact guard (RIG), sometimes called an ICC bar, securing the trailer to the loading dock until the restraint is disengaged.

    Wheel Chocks Are Not the Answer

    OSHA states that companies with warehouses and distribution centers are responsible for the safety of their employees, which obviously includes dock personnel, and requires that all vehicles are, at minimum, restrained by wheel chocks prior to and during loading and unloading.

    If someone believes wheel chocks are an acceptable substitute for vehicle restraints, he or she must ensure that every trailer is properly chocked, which is rare. In one facility, every dock position might have an immaculate set of wheel chocks that are always stored in their cradle, but they’re only immaculate because they aren’t used very often. Dock personnel at another facility might believe truck drivers should chock their own trailers, but all they’re legally required to do is set their brakes.

    At another facility, perhaps wheel chocks are not even available. They were there at some point in time, but on a frigid winter day they weren’t returned to their cradle and the snowplow picked them up and ripped them off the wall. At yet another facility, some of the chocks have simply broken down from years of use and were never replaced. In each case, the company is not only risking OSHA fines, but also the safety of its dock personnel.

    Wheel chocks also must be applied firmly against the closest set of wheels to the dock, or they may not prevent trailer creep. This requires more than just casually tossing the chock near the trailer wheels. A gravelly drive or wet or icy conditions also reduce the effectiveness of wheel chocks. To top it all off, in most cases, trucks can simply pull trailers right over wheel chocks, so they’re generally not very good at preventing early pull-away.

    Communication is Key

    Securing a trailer to the loading dock is only part of the reason vehicle restraints are preferred over wheel chocks. Communication between dock personnel and truck drivers is essential for maintaining safety in the loading dock, and wheel chocks do nothing in this area. Vehicle restraints often include light communication systems that know when the trailer is restrained and use interior and exterior lights to communicate this to the truck driver and dock personnel so loading or unloading can safely begin.

    Safety is an Investment

    Anyone who thinks vehicle restraints are too expensive should consider that loading dock accidents cost companies an estimated $675 million every year,3 and the average cost of a worker injury accident is about $189,000.4 A better way to spend $189,000 is to install automatic vehicle restraints and greatly reduce the chances of a forklift fall-through accident in the first place.

    There is also a possibility that installing restraints at your loading docks may lower your insurance rates. “When you install restraints, you’re acting to not only reduce the chances of employee injury accidents, but also damage to equipment, vehicles, and cargo from accidents,” says Schulze. “It’s definitely worth a call to your insurance provider.”

    A Chance Not Worth Taking

    It’s been said that forklift fall-through accidents are a one-in-a-million incident. That might not be far from the truth. If a facility has 20 dock positions and each sees 10 trailers per day, and each of those trailers sees 40 forklift entries and exits during loading or unloading, it only takes 25 weeks for this facility to have a million opportunities for a forklift fall-through. Suddenly one-in-a-million feels much too close for comfort.

    Don't Wait Until It's Too Late

    The time to put on your seat belt is not after you’ve been in a car accident. It’s a bit late to install smoke detectors after your home has burned to the ground. If you drive a forklift to load or unload trailers and wheel chocks are all you’ve got, ask your supervisor about vehicle restraints. If you’re a warehouse manager or safety officer, don’t wait until someone gets hurt to put vehicle restraints in the budget. When you install vehicle restraints in your loading docks, rest easy knowing you’ve done the best thing you can do to help minimize the risk of forklift fall-through accidents.


    No matter where you are in the world, asbestos kills. For the more than 60 countries where the use of asbestos is now banned, this deadly substance – once deemed a ‘wonder material’ – now presents a ticking time bomb. For countries still using asbestos, however, which includes the UAE despite its ban, the root of the problem is yet to be contained and so the scale of the final problem is yet to be uncovered.

    Asbestos is the biggest occupational cancer killer, claiming more than 200,000 lives a year worldwide, according to the Global Health Data Exchange. In the United Kingdom and the United States alone, in 2017 over 55,000 people died from work-related asbestos-caused diseases.

    “despite numerous countries in the region banning asbestos, including the UAE in 2006, there is evidence that asbestos containing materials are still being used”

    Comparing prevention and policy from the UK and the US allows us to better understand the scope of risk to mitigate exposure. Although the UK banned asbestos in 1999, the US failed to ban asbestos in 1989 and asbestos imports and use continue today. Meanwhile in the Middle East, despite numerous countries in the region banning asbestos, including the UAE in 2006, there is evidence that asbestos containing materials are still being used in new construction projects in the region.

    Asbestos causes mesothelioma as well as a number of other cancers and deadly diseases, including lung, ovarian, laryngeal cancers, and asbestosis to name a few, yet all asbestos-caused diseases are 100 percent preventable if we prevent exposure in the first place.

    When asbestos is inhaled, the indestructible fibres lodge themselves in the body where they remain, causing damage for years to come. Asbestoscaused diseases have long latency periods, with symptoms typically not presenting until 10-50 years after the time of exposure. And asbestos is undetectable by sight, smell or taste, so you can be exposed without ever knowing it.

    Despite the focus on occupational exposure, the risk doesn’t stop at factory walls. Asbestos has been found in talcum powder, teen makeup, toys, and crayons. After decades of popular use in the construction industry, asbestos-contaminated materials are also commonly found in homes, office buildings, and schools – in fact, according to Parliament, 85 percent of UK schools contain asbestos.

    A long, dark history

    It can be difficult to fully understand the century-old asbestos tragedy. Commonly, it is described in three waves.

    “Wave One” of asbestos diseases and deaths occurred in the early 1900s among workers who mined, milled, or transported raw asbestos. This gave way to “Wave Two” exposures which were concentrated in high-risk industries during the mid-century decades when asbestos was used rampantly in manufacturing. These high-risk industries include construction, automotive, shipbuilding, and the military, all of which had labourers handling or working in direct proximity to raw asbestos and contaminated materials. “Wave Three” refers to the structural, environmental, and secondary exposures – this wave continues in the Middle East, US and beyond today.

    Environmental exposure can happen in structures built with materials containing asbestos. When do-it-yourself or commercial repairs and remodels are done to structures containing asbestos, fibres can be released into the environment. The same risk occurs when asbestos-filled structures are demolished. For example, untold amounts of asbestos were released into New York City air during the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center (WTC). Unfortunately, the firefighters who risked their lives responding to the disaster have seen a 19 percent spike in cancer rates compared to New York firefighters who weren’t at Ground Zero.

    Not unlike the WTC, when the UK’s Grenfell Tower fire broke out, it too contained asbestos. Firefighters bravely fought the blaze for more than 24 hours. Tragically, 71 people lost their lives to the fire, but it is expected that others will suffer in the coming years from asbestos exposure.

    Both natural disasters and ageing infrastructure can also be a source of environmental exposure. For example, even burst water pipes can cause fibres to become airborne.

    “eventually, science and government proved what the asbestos manufacturing companies had known for years: asbestos exposure causes disease”

    An especially tragic side of both Wave Two and Wave Three is secondary exposure, sometimes referred to as “deadly hugs and chores.” This kind of exposure happens when workers bring asbestos fibres home on their clothes and expose their families who lovingly greet them with a hug at the door or clean their work clothes. Tragically, people who were exposed this way as children are now dying from mesothelioma and other asbestoscaused diseases in their 20s and 30s.

    Eventually, science and government proved what the asbestos manufacturing companies had known for years: asbestos exposure causes disease.

    In the 1960s, the American researcher Dr Irving Selikoff pioneered landmark studies of insulation workers that “demonstrated the severity of a modern occupational and public health tragedy.” However, it wasn’t until 1983 that Iceland became the first country to finally heed the science and fully ban asbestos. In slow succession, nearly 70 other countries followed suit and banned asbestos, but it remains legal and lethal in more than two-thirds of countries around the globe.

    And even though asbestos has killed millions upon millions in the past century, the dark legacy and continuing risk remain a mystery to most.

    Education is the first step

    The health illiteracy around asbestoscaused disease is one of our biggest challenges in ending the epidemic of preventable deaths surrounding the fibre.

    In America, where asbestos is still legal, nine in 10 people mistakenly believe the substance is banned and therefore poses no risk. In the UK, where asbestos was banned in 1999, many believe that asbestos danger is a thing of the past, but thousands of residents continue to fall ill and die from mesothelioma and other asbestos-caused diseases.

    Misconceptions about asbestos must be corrected, because although promising research continues, exposure prevention is currently the only cure for asbestoscaused diseases.

    While trade unions, safety and health professionals, and anti-asbestos advocates work hard to bring the truth to light, we fight an uphill battle against the spin and propaganda peddled by asbestos producers and users. Despite the longstanding scientific consensus that there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos, companies that still use it in manufacturing claim their method of use is safe. And chemical lobbyists and asbestos exporters, especially those in Russia, would have us believe that a risk-free version of asbestos – chrysotile – exists, though the World Health Organization is very clear in stating that “all forms of asbestos including chrysotile are carcinogenic to humans.”

    Employers, regulators and governments alike need to take time to reflect on the tsunami of evidence linked to asbestosrelated disease and to understand the burden this deadly product places on people, their families and society as a whole to stem the tide of suffering and death.


    Simple preventative maintenance of thermal management equipment will keep electronics efficient and safe.

    The threats that make enclosure thermal management necessary to begin with reach the height of their destructive energies all at once, once a year, in the summertime. While some logistics of manufacturing become vastly less complicated in the summer sun, several interrelated changes in the weather threaten the critical electronics that allow production lines to operate.

    These factors—heat, debris, and moisture—must be planned for and neutralized. Fortunately, with the right equipment, staying ahead of summer conditions to ensure maximum uptime requires relatively few and simple interventions. Best practices for getting the most out of electrical cooling equipment in the summer months center on two basic steps: set up equipment right and perform preventive maintenance.

    Setting Up Thermal Management Equipment for the Summer Months

    The most important decision that a piece of thermal management equipment can make is whether to turn on or off. If it fails to start when it gets too hot, the efficiency of electrical components in an enclosure will degrade, causing short-term inefficiency and shortening component lifespan. Less often considered by facilities managers, however, are the effects of overcooling. These become more pronounced in the summer, especially if equipment is incorrectly set up.

    The threat of humidity is simple: if moisture exists in an electrical enclosure and that moisture cools too much, it will collect on components. Wet components, then, can short circuit. In high humidity ambient air conditions, this threat grows, and summer brings higher humidity. However, the change between winter and summer humidity varies by geography, as does how high summer humidity gets. So, should factories in different locations change the settings on their cooling equipment to offset these differences in humidity? Counterintuitively, probably not.

    Enclosure “cooling” is not necessarily about cooling. Thermal management of electrical enclosures is designed to maximize electrical efficiency by maintaining heats in a specific band—about 80–105° F. Efficiency for most components dips on either side of that range. As a result, the dip-switch controlling cooling equipment upstart depends relatively little on external factors.

    Commonly, maintenance and engineering personnel will experience a hot, humid day and check on their electrical enclosure and, finding it hot, will adjust the temperature set-point down. The first good reason for not changing the set-point applies year-round, namely that doing so might cool the enclosure to the point of decreasing component efficiency. However, this attempt at troubleshooting bears particularly negative implications in the humidity of summer. Cooling equipment is designed to evaporate condensate for a specific range of temperatures. Set the temperature too low, and condensate evaporators can be overloaded to the point of overflow. This endangers electronics with short circuit, and can even create hazardous working conditions, since water can puddle on the floor.

    Best practice number one for maximizing electronics efficiency with thermal management in the summer:

    do not alter the temperature set-point of cooling units.

    Preventative Maintenance Protects Electrical Efficiency in the Summer

    Diligent preventive maintenance protects the long-term efficiency of machinery throughout a factory, but the way thermal management equipment interacts with the environment means that seasonal change places particular importance on preventive maintenance at specific points in the calendar. Luckily, preventive maintenance for cooling equipment tends to be relatively simple and quick.

    To understand the importance of this work, consider the essential pieces of a thermal management unit. It will have some sort of air intake, a process of changing the state of that air, and an outlet. The change process hinges on fans, that move the air faster to change air temperature, and coils, that transfer heat to or absorb heat from the air. Each part of this chain, taking ambient air and making it air that cools the enclosure, is subject to wear and tear, and a failure at any point could render the entire system inefficient.

    The most critical element of any preventative maintenance program for air conditioners, fans, or other thermal management solutions ensures the efficiency of the part of the system that actually cools the air. For air conditioners, cooling units, air to air heat exchangers, and other solutions, the functional part is the coil. To preserve efficiency, simply remove all build-up and blockage on coils. Blockage impedes the transfer of heat energy between the coils and the air. Unable to efficiently heat or cool, blocked coils can cause enclosure overheating. Though a straightforward solution, performing this task regularly can extend the lifetime of a compressor from one year to ten.

    For fans, check to make sure they are spinning at the appropriate rates. If sluggish, the likeliest fix is to replace the capacitor. Of course, all this maintenance serves to protect the electrical components in an enclosure. Without it, a would-be 10-year lifespan to a component can drop dramatically. It can fry in just a few summers.

    Because the outlet of the system into the enclosure conveys processed air, it usually does not require much maintenance. Perhaps the most obvious maintenance is for the most visible part of these systems: intake. Usually, fan filter media should be changed out regularly, every two to three months or when dirt is impeding airflow.

    Some fans feature high-tech filter mats that optimize airflow and extend service life, making filter changes less common of an occurrence. So investing in the right equipment can save maintenance time and costs. Nevertheless, filters should always be checked in spring and summer, because of humidity and increased debris in the air.

    Likewise, air conditioning unit and cooling unit air intake fins should be cleaned, although wide condenser fin spacing can make equipment maintenance-free in this regard. If air intake is inhibited by accumulated dust and dirt, less air can access the air processing stage, diminishing the efficiency of these systems. With less air, fans spin harder to create the same effect on the enclosure environment, wasting electricity and decreasing their lifetime.

    Best practice number two for maximizing electronics efficiency with thermal management in the summer:

    perform preventative maintenance – and especially clean coils.

    Beyond Preventive Maintenance: Equipment for Efficient Thermal Management

    Depending on a facility’s cooling equipment, these steps could lead to getting the most efficiency out of inefficient units. Beyond preventative maintenance and setting up equipment correctly, manufacturers should consider high-efficiency cooling options.

    Nevertheless, for most factories, the biggest thing to remember as the days get longer and the air gets hotter is that simple preventative maintenance of thermal management equipment will keep electronics efficient for less downtime. Consider creating a calendar reminder at the end of spring, and for every couple months, to check equipment and clean important parts.


    Effective communication during a shift handover provides a strong layer of protection in preventing major incidents. In the oil & gas industry, hazards are inevitable and if they are not identified properly, they may lead to regrettable situations such as disasters. Continuous process in the oil & gas industry demands people who carry out operations and maintenance of oil & gas plants, usually within 24 hours, 7 days a week. Therefore, workers are frequently rotated on a routine basis within a cycle refereed as shift work. Within continuous process, shift handover is required between those who are on shift works. Shift handover is defined as transferring responsibilities and tasks from one individual to another or a work team and it is one of the best known types of safety critical communication.

    Shift handover is a critical activity with a direct impact on production and safety. Poor shift handover is known to cause operation problems such as plant upsets, unplanned shut downs and product reworks, which can result in considerable revenue loss. Research by one oil & gas company revealed that while start-up, shutdown and changeover periods account for less than 5% of an operation’s staff time, 40% of plant incidents occur during this time . In fact, every second incident or accident in the process industry is related to communication errors that occurred during shift handovers.

    This article will examine the key challenges in shift handover and illustrate how shift handover became one of the contributing factors in some major incidents in the oil & gas sector. We’ll also provide recommendations on how to have a robust and effective shift handover process.


    The importance of shift handover was highlighted in such major oil & gas incidents as Piper Alpha, Texas City, Buncefield and Deepwater Horizon. The Cullen report following the Piper Alpha disaster inquiry clearly mentioned, as one of many factors that contributed to the incident, the failure of transferring information in shift handover. In fact, information that a pressure safety valve had been removed and replaced by a blind flange was not communicated between shifts. In addition to that, there was no written procedure for shift handover and information that was written in a shift handover logbook was left to the lead operator’s discretion.

    An explosion at a Buncefield oil storage depot was another incident where shift handover was one of many contributing factors that led to disaster. The Buncefield incident investigation team revealed that effective arrangements for shift handover were not in place and there was confusion between supervisors about which tank was being filled, and the shift logbook was only used to capture information about one of the pipelines. Furthermore, the logbook only had information about the plant situation during end of the shift, not events occurring during the shift. Finally, it was revealed that allocated time for handover between shift supervisors was not sufficient.

    The Texas City Refinery explosion in 2005 is an example of total failure of shift handover management, in addition to a range of technical failures that contributed to this incident. The investigation team found out there were no procedures being used during shift handover. The absence of a lead operator during shift handover, miscommunication, unclear information and lack of required details in the shift handover logbook were also evident. Working operators in a shift pattern for 30 consecutive days in such a hazardous facility led to excessive fatigue among personnel and demonstrated a lack of required policy for shift work. Even though shift handover management and lessons learned from BP’s Grangemouth refinery incident in 2000 (which was similar to the Texas City Refinery explosion) were available, BP’s Texas City management did not appear to learn from the lessons of the Grangemouth study.


    Communication is at the heart of every aspect of our lives. All communication is prone to error and misunderstandings are an inventible feature of human communication. Reliable communication is highly critical to safety, and shift handover falls into this category. Effective communication during a shift handover provides a strong layer of protection in preventing major incidents. Good communication between management, supervisors and workers at an informal level is a feature of low incident plants.

    People tend to underestimate the complexity of the communication process, and consequently overestimate their ability to communicate effectively. Communication failures are probably under-reported and most of the time have been ignored during incident investigations. Checking that information has been received and understood is equally critical. As playwright George Bernard Shaw once said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

    Unreliable communication can result from a range of issues, including:
  • Missing information.
  • Unnecessary information.
  • Inaccurate information.
  • Poor quality of information.
  • Misunderstandings.


    A shift handover is effectively the transfer of knowledge from an outgoing staff member to an incoming staff member, typically thought to be a unidirectional process in which the outgoing operator decides which information is of importance for transferring, so that the incoming staff can effectively operate the facility. When operators write shift handover reports, the reports are based on one assumption—one BIG assumption! The assumed fact is that all staff members have a shared thought process and common understanding. This assumption leads to miscommunication, lack of a common understanding and potential incidents. An outgoing operator will typically write anything that they feel is relevant to the incoming shift, based on personal judgment.

    The lack of structure, poor legibility and insufficient information often found in shift logbooks has been well documented. A literature review indicated that 80% of oil & gas production facilities’ logbooks are in unstructured style and do not capture key information; what’s more, they sometimes include unnecessary information, while key information is buried in the content. A review of the Piper Alpha and Texas City incident investigation reports by indicate that lack of logbook information and the informal/unstructured shift handover processes were key failures in the lead up to both incidents. Both company teams were aware of the minimum and necessary information that is required to operate the facility safely and effectively; however, with the pressure and rush of day-to-day operations, it is simple to forget key elements during shift handover.


    It is very important to pay special attention to certain circumstances during shift handover, such as maintenance or abnormal situations. Miscommunication of maintenance issues over a shift change can have serious safety implications. When plant maintenance carries over during a shift change, there is a high likelihood of miscommunication occurring between incoming and outgoing personnel.

    A clear picture of all activities needs to be presented to incoming shift, otherwise all activities would be based on an inaccurate understanding and incomplete information. In addition to this, shift handovers between experienced and inexperienced staff, or during periods when some staff have been absent for long period of time, or when the plant’s safety system has been overridden for some reason are all considered to be high-risk shift handovers. Therefore, where practical, maintenance should be completed within one shift, which would eliminate the risk of miscommunication during shift handover.


    Following major incidents, most regulators look closely at shift handover management and defined requirements for shift handover systems. When the UK’s Health and Safety Executive agency examined 16 offshore oil & gas companies, they discovered the following issues in relation to shift handover:

  • Did not clearly define responsibilities and information needs.
  • Did not provide written guidance.
  • Did not mention it in their safety case.
  • Lacked risk awareness among their operators.
  • Provided little or no training.
  • Did little monitoring or auditing.
  • Had accidents that involved miscommunication at shift handover, e.g., maintenance or plant status.



  • Confined space (CS) entry has been recognised as a hazardous activity for many years and yet, sadly, it continues to be a source of major accidents and incidents resulting in fatalities and severe environmental pollution around the world.

    When you search online, there are a number of examples of fatal CS-related accidents. You may be familiar with such incidents, either as first-hand experience or from colleagues.

    As examples:

  • Four people died when entering a sewage pit for cleaning as a result of trying to rescue the first entrant who got into difficulties (Gulf News, 2015)
  • Three people were killed in ADCO onshore oilfield H2s accident

    What is a confined space?

    Although a straight forward question, the definition differs from country to country. But the essential features of a confined space such as enclosed space, risks and differentiation from other parts of the establishment are common to all.

    For example, under the Abu Dhabi OSHAD (CoP 27) Code of Practice V3.1 March 2019, and the UK HSE Approved Code of Practice (L 101), a confined space is defined as “any place, including tanks, vessels, pipes, sewers, silos, storage bins, hoppers, vaults, pits, excavations, manholes or other similar space that by the virtues of its enclosed nature, there arises a reasonably foreseeable specified risk”.

    Under OSHA 3138-01R Standard, a CS is defined as somewhere that:

  • Is large enough for an employee to enter fully and perform assigned work
  • Is not designed for continuous occupancy by the employee
  • Has a limited or restricted means of entry or exit These spaces may include underground vaults, tanks, storage bins, pits and diked areas, vessels, silos and other similar areas.

    Furthermore, the OSHA standard narrows it down to Permit Required type of Confined Space (PRCS) as follows:

  • Contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere
  • Contains a material with the potential to engulf someone who enters the space
  • Has an internal configuration that might cause an entrant to be trapped or asphyxiated by inwardly converging walls or by a floor that slopes downward and tapers to a smaller cross section
  • Contains any other recognised serious safety or health hazards

    Confined space locations

    Some features of a confined space are not obvious at first glance. For example, when entering a space enclosed on three-sides by land but open to the sky it may not seem like a CS.

    There are, however, recorded fatalities in such spaces in the farming industries or by the side of canals where the level of oxygen may be below the safe limits due to displacement by biological plant/animal activities, which could release low-lying carbon dioxide or hydrogen sulphide.

    The more common locations of a confined space are listed below based on L 101 UK HSE guidance referenced in Section 3. Note that the list is not exhaustive. If your specific CS does not appear on this list, it does not mean

    it is not a confined space. For more information, details of how to identify a CS are provided in Section 8 of the HSE guidance.

    Examples of confined space locations include:

  • Ducts, culverts, tunnels, boreholes, bored piles, manholes, shafts, excavations and trenches, sumps, inspection and under-machine pits, cofferdams
  • Freight containers, ballast tanks, ships’ engine rooms and cargo holds
  • Buildings, building voids
  • Some enclosed rooms (particularly plant rooms) and compartments within
  • Enclosures for the purpose of asbestos removal
  • Areas used for storage of materials that are likely to oxidise (such as store rooms for steel chains or wood pellet hopper tanks)
  • Unventilated or inadequately ventilated rooms and silos
  • Structures that become confined spaces during fabrication or manufacture
  • Interiors of machines, plant or vehicles

    As a reminder, there may be other types of confined space not covered in the previous list.

    Hazards of confined spaces entry

    The more common hazards of a confined space are listed as:

  • Presence of flammable or oxygen rich environment
  • Presence of toxic and/ or corrosive substances
  • Lack of oxygen or depleted levels of oxygen
  • Presence of asphyxiants
  • Thermal load (hot or cold)
  • Working at height
  • Unexpected ingress of other substances or water
  • Other hazards such as electricity, noise, collapse or subsidence of or within the space, loss of structural integrity and those arising from mechanical equipment and working space
  • Hidden presence of toxic, corrosive or flammable substances below apparently dry films such as previous tank coating, which during cleaning processes become live and emit the trapped substances

    Modern Standards and Regulations

    Countries around the world have their own safety standards on CS entry requirements. Examples for the Middle East, Europe, Australia and USA, respectively, are listed below:

  • 27.0 - Confined Spaces v3.1 English- Updated available at www.oshad.ae/Lists/ OshadSystemDocument/Attachments/122/OSHAD-SF%20-%20TG%20-%20 Safe%20Work%20in%20Confined%20Spaces%20v3.1%20English.pdf
  • Safe Work in Confined Spaces (www.hse.gov.uk/pUbns/priced/l101.pdf)
  • Model Code of Safe Working (Confined Spaces available at: www.safework australia.gov.au/system/files/documents/1705/mcop-confined-spaces-v3.pdf)
  • OSHA (29 CFR 1910.146) Confined Spaces and Permit-Required Confined-Spaces OSHA 3138-01R (2004) (www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3138.pdf)

    This is not an exhaustive list and some situations would present additional or multiple simultaneous hazards such as ergonomic hazards whilst carrying out detailed maintenance in confined spaces with power tools.



  • The Petroleum Industry has undergone a historic boom, with new technology coming in place. The employment in the oil and gas industry is growing time and again and the jobs in this sector are one of the most dangerous and hazardous. Together with occupational risks, there arise safety risks which include bodily injury to fingers and hands. These are the most vulnerable physical parts which are easily prone to risks and dangers.

    Finger and hand injuries are regularly featured in petroleum companies’ incident records. They make up to 50% of the accidents in the sector. As per the 2014 statistics issued by the International Association of Drilling Contractors, 43% of the recorded incidents on exploration and production rigs were comprised of just the injuries related to hand and fingers. Due to which, the companies involved in the oil and gas exploration and production industry are employing more injury prevention strategies.

    “43% of the recorded incidents on the exploration and production rigs were comprised of hand and fingers injuries”

    These kinds of risks are included in the occupational hazards in the petroleum industry. The hazards are omnipresent, ranging from upstream to midstream and downstream as well. The workers are prone to come into contact with the heavy equipment, chains, pipes, and flash fires, which may result in accidents. Despite the regulations with regards to personal protective materials, the risks are high.

    The workmen in such a dangerous environment deserve better safety and protection. The industry must adopt specific standards and regulations that should mandate the following:

  • Educating the workforce about the risks and how to employ safe practices
  • Usage of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) which shall start with requisite hand protection
    Hazards such as struck by objects or being caught between dangerous equipment as well as exposure to heat, flares, fires and chemicals, cause inherent bodily harm, which is long-lasting.

    The companies are obliged to conduct a proper risk assessment and thereby afford the employees a chance to understand how the risks can be avoided and mitigated. This can minimise finger and hand injuries. The company should prioritise the minimisation of exposing the workmen to unnecessary risks.

    It is pertinent to note that technology has advanced in this industry where injuries can be said to have been reduced. The technology used is such as pipe handling via remote control in the case of oil and gas pipe drillings.

    Introduction of advanced expertise and technology

    There are kinds of injuries which have witnessed reduction when the technology is put to use. These technologies consist of remote-control pipe handling systems in the exploration and production rigs. One of the significant changes is separating the human touch from the machinery, while still controlling the operation and thereby improving the safety standards in the industry.

    One of many examples of these technologies is the “Iron Derrickman”. It is installed on the drilling oil rigs where it is carried out with the elimination of the necessity of personnel above the derrick and floor below on the floor of the platform. This further results in a rapid reduction of the risks which are exposed during the handling of the pipes and rigs. One of the other methods is remote top drive technology, which is undertaken via the hands-free case.

    The petroleum companies operating in international waters are under an obligation to comply with the regulatory requirements that stipulate the usage of remotely operated and unmanned vehicular equipment. However, it is essential to take into consideration that this advanced technological equipment will create dangers to humans and in a specific event, these significant accidents have taken place – collisions between these uncrewed vehicles and personnel as well as between structures and with the equipment itself.

    In spite of increased and enhanced awareness amongst the workers and improvement in the training of the employers within the industry, the number of injuries involving hands keeps on increasing. This trend is evident everywhere, since these risks are inherent in all workplaces.

    According to one occupational health and safety magazine in the oil and gas industry, the majority of incidents are related to hands, arms and fingers. It can be easily construed that hands and fingers are not much prone to hazards, but the reality is that hands take most of the risks and dangers and suffer a lot of exploitation.

    Generating awareness amongst the oil and gas companies is effective on its own where these organisations have come up with campaigns for health and safety where informative posters and animation will help the creation of a safe environment at the workplace. Companies need to approach the protection and security from within the organisation to combat the ever-changing and ever-increasing risks of injuries.

    Chemical risks

    Equipment and machines do indeed create hazards and dangers on-site, but the second contributor towards the injuries can be afforded to the corrosives, or more specifically, the chemicals. These chemicals are hazardous and irritant to the sensitive areas of the skin, which is highly capable of damages which can prolong for an extended period.

    These corrosive chemicals cause hazardous risks and damages including hand blistering, skin loss and sometimes even the rehab therapists and the doctors would not be an able cure. The second hazard is the absolute temperature where the hands become so sensitive that protection is highly necessary during operations. There is also another risk of electrical burns and shocks which are common in day to day life and cause approximately a thousand deaths per year.

    Preventing workplace injuries

    It is of utmost importance that such damages must be avoided and taken care of. It mainly occurs due to incorrect positioning of the fingers or hands, which indicates that the safety training has not been taken place for the workers or the personnel. Another issue is the improper use of the tools. It is the job of the company to provide proper training and understanding of the practical applications of the devices.

    Further, even improper outerwear contributes a lot to finger injuries. Such as continually wearing rings and cuffs, which can substantially hamper the proper operation of the machinery within the electrical zones.

    The worker should be wearing gloves and protective clothing at all times, for example:

  • Rubber gloves and protective guards
  • Electrical gloves for electrical work
  • For cutting, use of steel mesh gloves
  • Limit the use of soft cotton or canvas gloves

    Health and safety regulations in the UAE

    While there are regulations governing health and safety in the different Emirates of the UAE, the oil and gas industry may, depending on the Emirate, have different requirements and legislation regulating the industry and safety of the workers.

    The UAE is a nation that has attained global recognition in multiple areas; some of the most prominent of these include the oil and gas industry as well as the construction industry.

    “companies need to approach protection from within the organisation to combat the risks of injuries”

    There was a time not too long ago that the UAE contained a considerable proportion of the world’s cranes and was growing at a rate rarely seen, even in the modern world of construction marvels; this was during the nation's construction boom era, and things have since calmed as the country has become significantly more developed. To this day, however, it is unlikely that one could visit the country and not see a considerable number of projects being developed and constructed.

    The oil industry is also one who is and has remained of the utmost importance for decades, and while the UAE is a relatively small country in terms of population and size, it is still among the global leaders in terms of oil production. Oil accounts for a notably significant proportion of the nation's GDP and large amounts of funding go into facilities involved in the extraction, refinery and production of the related products.

    The essential Health and Safety regulations can be found in the UAE Labour Law (Federal Law Number 8 of 1980), though this legislation does not explicitly mention equipment and uniform related to health and safety. Chapter 5, Article 91, states that the employer must provide appropriate safety measures for hazards that may arise. This Article primarily concerns safety risks such as fire hazards for which sprinkler systems would be implemented and fire extinguishers provided in appropriate areas. While this is what is mentioned mainly, it can be assumed that the idea would extend to protective wear if such clothing or equipment should be required. The employees must wear any protective equipment provided by employers.

    Further to this, medical examinations must be provided to employees who work around hazardous equipment or hazardous situations. These must be provided regularly and by the employer. Through this safety procedure, any issues with health and safety measures that are utilised may be identified and fixed for the future.

    The UAE Federal Law Number 8 of 1980 concerning the Labour law mentions explicitly that the employer must create such an employee-friendly environment and provide with an adequate measure for their protection. Pursuant to that, the oil and gas companies have to make sure that they comply with the different permits and regulations that are brought about by the municipalities in the UAE. Also, it is the duty and responsibility of the municipalities to conduct regular compliance checks at such platforms and rigs.


    Despite continuous efforts from the petroleum companies regarding safety and protection and hazard mitigation, the number of injuries increases year on year and no substantive solution is provided for its improvement. With repeated and unstoppable synergies from the companies as well as the employers, we can surely achieve the second step in human safety and protection and devise a strategy that is both work and employee friendly.

    It can be undoubtedly said that improvement in technology for oil and gas drilling rigs can play a significant part in mitigating risks, but it is also important to note that there is equal involvement of the employees and the employers together achieving a similar goal of safety and risk and hazard mitigation.



  • Be vigilant to prevent heat-related illnesses, injuries. Exposure to fresh air and sunlight, as well as not being confined to an office, are a few of the perks many outdoor workers enjoy. But with the good comes the bad, which includes oppressive temperatures during the summer months, when heat-related illnesses and injuries – even deaths – are a heightened concern.

    For workers in the waste removal and recycling industry, being outdoors year-round and coping with extreme temperatures and weather are part of the job.

    “No one really faults any trash company for not getting their trash picked up when there’s 6 inches of snow,” said Kirk Sander, vice president of safety and standards at the Arlington, VA-based National Waste and Recycling Association. “If it’s 105 degrees and humid, you also have to have the same understanding that we can’t push [our] bodies that hard.”

    Nearly half of all jobs required working outdoors in 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And, from 1992 to 2016, heat stress resulted in 783 worker deaths and caused nearly 70,000 serious injuries.

    Although OSHA doesn’t have a heat stress standard, experts interviewed by Safety+Health recommend that employers have a prevention plan in place and provide a written emergency plan onsite. A prevention plan should include proper training and encourage workers to drink plenty of water, take periodic rest breaks and seek shade when temperatures rise. Meanwhile, employers and co-workers should keep a watchful eye for signs of heat stress.

    Feeling the heat

    Because of the nature of the work, agriculture, landscaping and construction are among the most common industries in which heat-related injuries and illnesses occur, said David Hornung, heat and agriculture program coordinator for the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health – also known as Cal/OSHA.

    The agency oversees the Central Valley – a 20,000-square-mile agricultural region that stretches 450 miles through the geographical center of the state – and the people who work there. “They do very intense outdoor work, often in very hot conditions,” Hornung said. “It’s very difficult manual labor.”

    Outdoor labor, according to federal OSHA, can lead to ailments ranging from heat rash and heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heatstroke, which is considered a medical emergency.

    “The harder you work, the more metabolic heat you generate,” Hornung said. “That increases your risk of heat illness. Workers have to self-monitor their water consumption, how they’re feeling. They can also watch out for one another and see if their buddies are getting signs or symptoms of heat illness and encourage them to take cool-down rests.”

    Workers and employers can benefit from knowing the warning signs and symptoms of heat illnesses, as well as having prevention and emergency response plans in place.

    “It’s not like you just provide them water and that solves the problem,” Hornung said. “It starts with an effective plan. The four main components we stress are shade, water, emergency procedures and training (known as SWET).” Why acclimatization matters

    Even before the calendar turns to July and August, workers who let their guard down may be at increased risk.

    “One thing we’ve noticed with heat exhaustion is that some cases occur as early as April,” said Edward Taylor, executive director of the Construction Industry Research and Policy Center at the University of Tennessee. “The most cases seem to occur in May, before the worker is getting acclimated.”

    Additionally, workers new to a job may be at greater risk of fatal heat exposure.

    In 2016, OSHA reviewed the agency’s 84 heat enforcement cases from 2012 and 2013. It found that 17 of the 23 workers who died were in their first three days on a job, including eight on their first day.

    “The body hasn’t had time to physiologically adjust to the heat,” Hornung said. “[It’s about] ensuring that people know what acclimatization is, and that it takes a person up to two weeks for their body to get used to working in the heat.”

    OSHA recommends that new workers, as well as employees returning from a prolonged absence, do 20% of an average day’s workload on their first day on the job. Work should increase incrementally each day, but not by more than 20%.

    When summertime heat waves set in, the agency suggests employers implement acclimatization practices. For example, workers should start the first day of the event at 50% of their normal work pace, followed by 60% on the second day, 80% on the third and 100% by the fourth.


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