Monday, September 28, 2009

Research proves MEWPs are most effective tool - report from Europlatform

Article on Access International by Maria Hadlow on 17 Sep 2009

A review of work at height procedures up to 4.5 m for mechanical and electrical installation carried out by Crown House Technologies (part of the Laing O'Rourke Group) has found push around, powered access equipment to be far more time efficient than traditional solutions such as scaffold towers and podium steps.

Gerry Mulholland, health and safety leader at Crown House said, "Following our study we were able to provide evidence that MEWPs (mobile elevated work platforms) are safer, more productive, ergonomic and avoid unnecessary strain injury. MEWPs are also easier for site management to maintain the appropriate safe standards on site as there are fewer options offered, therefore, fewer opportunities to make the wrong choice; their automation reduces accidents caused by human error. General site opinion from our workforce is that MEWPs get the job done."

Falls from height are the primary cause of serious injury in the construction industry. CHt's detailed review found that just under a fifth of all accidents on site are related to access equipment. A small proportion of these are caused by MEWPs (19%), compared with podiums, mobile towers, ladders and A-frames.

Andy Brazier

Lighting upgrades enhance North Sea helicopter safety

Article at Flight Global by Kieran Daly 22 September 2009

Helideck lighting has come to prominence as an unexpectedly high priority for pilots in a UK Civil Aviation Authority safety survey. Issues identified include use of yellow and white lights that do not stand out from the rest of the rig lighting; the touchdown spot in the middle of the deck is effectively a "black hole"; and floodlighting used to illuminate the helideck is too bright, with even slight misalignment making things markedly worse.

An extensive series of flight trials over the last five years has allowed design to evolve including a switch to green lighting of the perimeter and removal of floodlights from helidecks. This is now receiving consistently strong reviews by pilots who have experienced it, or elements of it. A final configuration has been developed with green perimeter lights; a single, broken, yellow touchdown marker circle; and a green hollow-H for the touchdown point itself (see picture).

Accidents where lighting could have played a part include the loss of a Eurocopter AS365N Dauphin on approach to a gas platform in Morecambe Bay off the west coast of England in December 2006 and a loss of a Super Puma in February 2009 during a visual night-time approach to the ETAP Platform in poor visibility in the ­central North Sea.

Andy Brazier

Commonwealth Bank ATM in Queen St gave free cash to lucky customers

Article in the MacArthur Chronicle by Ben Pike 22 September 2009

A bank's cash machine dispensed $50 notes instead of $20 notes because of an error when loading the machine. The bank estimates about $20,000 was taken over a 26 hour period.

A bank spokesman said "This is an extremely rare occurrence and what is simply a case of human error. It’s unfortunate that these things happen ... we’re not perfect. We will be contacting people who used the ATM during that time to discuss recovery."

The bank is confident they can identify everyone who used the machine through their ATM cards and CCTV footage.

Their solution to thus is that "Staff will again be instructed on how to load the canisters correctly."

Andy Brazier

Computers can't replace pilots - yet, say experts

Article taken from Flight International by David Learmont 24 September 2009

The term "pilot error" is greatly over-used, especially given that on many occasions technically troubled flights are saved by ordinary airline crews. According to US Federal Aviation Administration's chief scientific and technical adviser, Dr Kathy Abbott, and Capt John Cox of the RAeS's operations committee "records showed about 30% of all system failure modes that led to accidents had not been anticipated by designers, so there were no checklists to deal with them. The corollary was that pilots successfully dealt with 70% of unanticipated failures, let alone the failures for which there was a checklist, she said."

Since an incident of Thomsonfly Boeing 737-300 where crew allowed the aircraft's speed to drop to a dangerously low level on an approach to Bournemouth airport in September 2007 eye-tracking tests of crews has taken place.

"The tests have revealed that a few pilots' instrument scans are seriously deficient, even when their performance would have been judged as good by an examiner on the flightdeck. The implication is that some airline crews, possibly at all airlines, are getting by simply because nothing goes technically wrong on their watch. The worry, says Thomson, is that this pattern may not be correctable because, even with retraining, the pilots concerned tend to revert to their natural patterns later."

Andy Brazier

UK mother relives horror of Venezuelan plane crash that killed son

Article at VH Headline, Venezuela 24 September 2009.

A woman told an inquest of the terrifying moment when a plane she was flying in crashed on take-off and killed her six-year-old son. Jane Horne was with her son, Thomas, and husband, David, as they boarded the flight at Canaima, in the south of Venezuela, in heavy rain during a two-week holiday.

Air crash expert Tim Atkinson, from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch, based in Farnborough, Hampshire, said that witness accounts had made him very confident he knew what had happened. The plane had stalled soon after take-off because it had not had sufficient time to gather enough speed and therefore lift to stay in the air.

The ''human error'' by the pilot of the aircraft was that he first decided to abort the take-off but then changed his mind, leaving not enough runway to safely get into the air. Flooding on the runway had also slowed the plane.

Mr Atkinson makes a very good observation that the pilot had a real incentive to go ahead with the flight even though it was raining heavily. The plane could only fly in good visual conditions and was not allowed to fly at night. Taking off at 3.30pm would have been the last time it could have flown that day before a substantial delay.

Andy Brazier