The Weekly Reflektion 43/2021

Sometimes the simplest of incidents can escalate to serious consequences by ways not quite anticipated in the wildest of imaginations.

Do you understand how simple incidents can escalate to serious consequences?

Sometimes the simplest of incidents can escalate to serious consequences by ways not quite anticipated in the wildest of imaginations.

This incident is based on the ‘Bricklayers Song’ by the Corries and shows how a seemingly simple task, with a subtle change in this case, can go wrong and then escalate to serious consequences. Poor hazard identification and inadequate management of risks are of course key factors in the incident.

An apprentice scaffolder was given the task of transporting a load of scaffolding from the 10th floor of a building down to the ground where it was to be stored. The apprentice carried two lengths of scaffolding pole down the stairs and realised that this was going to be a long and tiring job. He decided to lower them down on a rope. He set up a pulley wheel on the 10th floor and secured the rope at the bottom. He found a wooden box to hold the scaffolding and tied the box to the rope on the 10th floor. When he released the rope at the bottom, he suddenly found out that the box with the scaffolding weighed more than he did. He shot up into the air and hit the falling box breaking his shoulder on the way up. When he reached the top, he hit his head on the pulley and received concussion. He manged to hold on somehow. When the box hit the ground some of the scaffolding fell out, so much so that he was now heavier than the box and so he started down again. Halfway down he hit the box again receiving severe cuts and bruises. When he landed on the ground his left ankle was broken and he twisted his right knee. The box hit the pulley and the bottom burst and the rest of the scaffolding fell on him as he was lying on the ground. The impact of the scaffolding fractured three ribs and caused him to let go of the rope. Being unsecured the box then fell and hit his left arm as he was still lying on the ground. The apprentice was not at work the next day, or the days after that.

From the simplest of starts the most serious of consequences can arise. Sometimes it is not so easy to predict what will happen when an activity is started. Sometimes changes are made that change the hazards and risks. However, with the right focus, the right approach and the right people it is not only possible, but also expected that the planning of any activity will ensure it is carried out safely and efficiently. Lifting incidents and falling objects are unfortunately happening too often and this is highlighted in the annual RNNP (Risk levels in the Norwegian Petroleum industry) process. For any activity, especially involving lifting and working at heights, we need to identify the hazards and mitigate the risks. We need to manage any changes are made to the original plan. We need to use our experience, our knowledge, and our imagination to ensure that the people involved in any activity are kept safe. Do you ensure this?

Reflekt AS