Thursday, November 04, 2010

US - PHMSA amendment to Federal pipeline safety regulations to address human factors and other aspects of control room management

Notification of amendment from US Department of Transportation - Pipeline and Hazardous Materials
Safety Administration.

Safety regulations are being amended to address human factors and other aspects of control room management for pipelines where controllers use supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems. Under the final rule, affected pipeline operators must define the roles and responsibilities of controllers and provide controllers with the necessary information, training, and processes to fulfill these responsibilities. Operators must also implement methods to prevent controller fatigue. The final rule further requires operators to manage SCADA alarms, assure control room considerations are taken into account when changing pipeline equipment or configurations, and review reportable incidents or accidents to determine
whether control room actions contributed to the event.

This rule improves opportunities to reduce risk through more effective control of pipelines. These regulations will enhance pipeline safety by coupling strengthened control room management with improved controller training and fatigue management.

Effective control of pipelines is one key component of accident prevention. Controllers can help identify risks, prevent accidents, and minimize commodity loss if provided with the necessary tools and working environment. This rule will increase the likelihood that pipeline controllers have the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to help prevent accidents. The rule will also ensure that operators provide controllers with the necessary training, tools, procedures, management support, and environment where a controller’s actions can be effective in
helping to assure safe operation.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Put your back into it - My brilliant career

Article on the South African Times Live by Margaret Harris on 10 October 2010

It is an interview with Dale Kennedy, an ergonomist and director at consulting firm Ergomax.

I particularly liked Dale's answer to the question "What does an ergonomist do?"

"An ergonomist looks at how working environments affect people. We consider what the human body can and wants to do and design the work environment appropriately to minimise risk exposure, optimise efficiency and maximise profits. Ergonomics marries the occupational health and safety of the workers to the fundamental needs of any business - that of making money."

Nuclear submarine freed after running aground off Isle of Skye

Article in The Guardian on 22 October 2010

The Royal Navy's HMS Astute, the world's most advanced submarine, ran aground in familiar waters during an exercise off the Isle of Skye.

The accident is particularly embarrassing as it involves a new state-of-the art vessel, the largest British nuclear-powered attack submarine ever built for the navy. It cost £1.2bn and is equipped with the latest stealth and sonar technology, making it difficult to detect under the sea.

Causes of the incident are likely to cause human error. No details currently available, but the images of the sub stuck on the sea bed make it worth keeping the reference.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Camelford poisoning: 'water authority insisted supplies were safe'

Article in The Guardian 1 November 2010 by Steven Morris

This incident happened in July 1988, but is in the news again because of an inquest into the death of women in 2004 that may have been linked to the contamination of drinking water with aluminium sulphate. The incident is often mentioned when talking about human error, but details have not been available before.

The incident occurred when concentrated aluminium sulphate was transferred to the wrong tank at the Lowermoor plant, which supplied a large area of north Cornwall including Camelford. This meant it was present in the drinking water at a much higher concentration than it should have been.

The driver of the delivery tanker told the inquest how he had stepped in at the last minute to take over the delivery. He was told to put his load "in a tank on the left", but he was confused because there were several tanks and manhole covers.

He said he had asked his colleagues to telephone the authority to say he would be running late but when he arrived at Lowermoor no one was there. He said there was no phone available to ring anyone.

According to the The BBC on 1 November 2010 the driver told the inquest he had let himself into the works with a key given to him by the regular driver Barry Davey. But he did not know the former South West Water Authority, which ran the works, used the same key at all its plants. He had believed the key would let him into the site and open one tank.

In another article from The BBC on 1 November 2010, The chemical was used to treat cloudy water. As well as being too concentrated in the drinking water supply, the acidity in the water also released chemicals in pipe networks into people's homes.

The water company was inundated with around 900 complaints about dirty, foul-tasting water but no warnings were given to the public on the night of the incident on 6 July, 1988.

Local residents subsequently reported suffering health problems, including stomach cramps, rashes, diarrhoea, mouth ulcers, aching joints and some even said their hair had turned green from copper residues.