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“THE 33” by the Hard Hat Crew

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Group: The Hard Hat Crew 

(Bosses, 2017)

Introduction

   The 33, starring Antonio Banderas as Miner Mario Sepulveda, is a film based on a real life event of the 2010 mining disaster that took place in Chile where thirty three (33) men have been trapped inside the San Jose Mine for more than two months. It is commonly known as the Chilean mining accident. The occurrence is believed to have taken place due to the carelessness of the miners who disregarded the indications of the unsettled mine. There is only one way in and out and due to the instability of the mine, the pathway was blocked leaving the miners helpless.

There were certain healthy and safety matters that were identified throughout the movie. They would be discussed below as follows: 

CHEMICAL HAZARD

(Bosses, 2017)

   It can be seen that there is a new recruit on the mining team; a man from Bolivia. Upon entering the mine, he started coughing and asked one of his co-worker the duration of their trip. The co-worker responded, “Within an hour’s drive”. The new recruit does not have the proper attire (PPE); dust mask to be specific, since he is seen coughing constantly and seemed to be gasping for air. This can be a threat since the constant inhalation of the dust can affect one’s lungs eventually and pose to be of a severe danger to the new recruit. The risk to his health can depend on the nature of the dust particles and how much he inhaled. It can also form respiratory diseases such as lung cancer as well as asthma. Being in the mine for a considerable amount of time would increase the likelihood of health problems. In accordance with The OSH Act of Trinidad and Tobago, employees should be provided with appropriate protective clothing when entering an area within an industrial site.        

  Recommendations: Employers must ensure that all new recruits are properly informed of all the various procedures involved in the job before proceeding into the mine. They should also ensure that they are properly attired and have all necessary gears in the case of an emergency.


BIOLOGICAL HAZARD

(Roth, n.d.)

Biological Hazards include vermin, insects, fungi, pathogens, viruses and bacterial contaminants. Biological agents such as biological allergens, viruses, rickettsia, bacteria, micro-organisms, varying parasites and toxins. These agents are known for causing allergenic, carcinogenic, toxic and infectious reactions. Mines can be inhibited by animals such as rodents, bats, mites and cockroaches. This may lead to workers being bitten by insects. For example, mites.

Employees can be susceptible to skin diseases such as dermatitis. Dermatitis also referred to as mine dermatitis is seen as being chronic, unremitting and in some instances last for many years. There can also be a range of dermatology disorders related to this occupation. Infection usually begins at the hands followed by the feet and lastly generalized outbreaks.

Occlusive Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in these confined hot environment encourages the growth of microorganisms and skin irritation. Moist environments promotes dermatophyte fungal and yeast infections. In addition, moist feet can cause bacterial infections.

Occupational lung diseases can lead to illness, premature retirement and in severe cases lead to death. There are other lung diseases such as occupational asthma, occupational cancers and inhalation injuries. The exposure to silica dust by miners can lead to silicosis, silicotuberculosis and other conditions such as tuberculosis, emphysema, chronic pulmonary obstructive disease, and in some instances no pulmonary lesions.

According to the OSH act of Trinidad and Tobago;Section 48(1)

“Where a medical practitioner who, having attended to a patient, forms the opinion that the patient is suffering from an occupational disease contracted in any industrial establishment or in the course of his employment, he shall within forty-eight hours of having formed that opinion send to the Chief Medical Officer a notice stating the disease from which the medical practitioner is of the opinion that the patient is suffering and the industrial establishment in which the patient is and was last employed.”

Recommendations: Employees should have medical surveillance and biological monitoring thus promoting health and safety of the employees. The former is a planned periodic examination carried out by an occupational health practitioner or an occupational medical practitioner. These programs can include biological monitoring, medical testing or clinical examinations. Moreover, the medical practitioner is supposed to be able to identify characteristics of occupational lung disease when creating the medical surveillance program, appropriate treatment and diagnosis. A surveillance record of each employee should be kept when exposed to a health hazard. When looking at biological monitoring, there is periodic collection and analysis of body fluids, tissues, excreta or exhaled air to be able to detect and quantify any expose or absorption of any substance or organism. Appropriate PPE and Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) are crucial to miners to protect against these hazards.

There should be an occupational hygienist to carry out procedures to measure levels of exposure to the hazards at the mine. The occupational hygienist should be able to anticipate, identify, evaluate and mitigate or control conditions which may cause illness or a health hazard resulting in adverse effects to the employee(s).   

PHYSICAL HAZARDS

Trip/Fall hazard

(Bosses, 2017)

   The mountain was on the verge of collapsing and it can be seen that there were two workers at the cliff’s edge, where they were standing discussing a matter. Upon noticing that the entire area was shaking, they became curious. It was noticed that one of the two workers eventually slipped due to the constant shaking within the mine. His co-worker desperately tried in assisting him back to the top.This poses to be a serious hazard since there was not any barrier put in place to safeguard the workers. Many people can fall over the cliff if they had not noticed that there was one. This would lead to workers being left with broken bones, both internal and external bleeding and may even cause deaths depending on how critical the situation is. Falling debris from blasting in addition to accidents caused by operation of heavy machinery can be some of the physical hazards which can occur during the mining process. 

   Recommendations: Employers must ensure that they place safety signs where necessary throughout the mine. This would allow employees to grasp a knowledge of where the dangers are and act accordingly. They can also build a protective barrier; that way no one can fall over when they are not aware that there is even a cliff located in that area. Darkness can be a factor as well; so they must ensure that their headlights work at all times. 

Noise/vibration hazards

(Bosses, 2017)

   The miners were observed using heavy diesel machinery and blasting kit. The noise generated from these equipments can cause severe trauma to one’s ears. Miners were observed not wearing any earmuffs or earplugs. Both long term and short term physical hazards can stem from this breach, resulting in loss of hearing, bleeding of the eardrum or further medical complications. 

   Recommendations: In order to prevent this, they should ensure that the equipment is well maintained to avoid excessive vibration and also cut down on the time each worker is spending on a vibrating surface.  

Cut hazards

(Labels, 2019)

   The vehicle transporting men out of the mine eventually crashed into a pile of debris blocking the pathway out (obstruction of the pathway). This resulted in the crack of the wind shield and the breakage of the windows. There is the potential of being cut by glass and even piercing through the layer of skin and causing bodily harm. Also, there could have been the puncture of internal organs which would then result in death. The further collapse of the mine led to an explosion. The hazard involved here could be flying objects. It can be seen that one of the vehicles exploded. The flying pieces of metal and rocks can cause severe damage to workers. It is seen in the movie that the miners went in search for the medical supplies but only found an empty kit. This precisely is not in accordance with the OSH Act as it states fully equipped medical kits should be available and ready to be used when needed. 

   Recommendations: In order to resolve this problem, management must ensure that their employees are properly trained and experienced in handling first aid;should a situation arise. 

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Hazards

   Personal protective equipment (PPE) are used to protect workers against health or safety risks at work. PPE are very important as they reduce risks associated with hazards such as physical, electrical, heat, chemicals, biohazards, and airborne particulate matter. PPE can include items such as safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses. It also includes respiratory protective equipment (RPE). In the movie “The 33” there are several violations of insufficient/improper use of PPE under the OSH Act. For example, miners initially wore basic PPE at the beginning of the movie. The miners attire consisted of coveralls with reflective stripes, gloves, and eye protection. However, upon further investigation it was found that some of the miners wore sneakers instead of safety shoes (steel cap) during the mining process. This is a major breach in the OSH Act. Additionally, mining within a claustrophobic, poorly lit environment can severely elevate physical risks. Another violation of PPE can again be seen during the mining process. Lastly, during the process of mining, it was observed that most miners were not wearing any dust mask or respiratory protective gear. Accumulating gold flecks and dust particles (micro-organic matter) can be seen throughout the mining process of the movie. If no RPE were not used, over time the continuous inhalation of dust and gold fleck particles can cause the development of Miner’s Lung Disease or Sarcoidosis as mentioned in the movie. Routine expose of such conditions, evidently breaches the OSH Act, resulting in both long-term and short-term physical and biological hazards.

(Bosses, 2017)

   According to the OSH act of Trinidad and Tobago, all persons entering an area in an industrial organization where they are likely to be exposed to the risk of head, eye, ear, hand or foot injury, injury from air contaminant or any other bodily injury, shall be provided with suitable protective clothing or devices of an approved standard and adequate instruction in the use of such protective clothing or devices, and no person shall be permitted to be in any such area unless he is wearing such protective clothing or device (OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ACT, 2004). 

   Recommendations: Operation supervisors in addition to miners should pay close attention to both PPE & RPE required for mining. Appropriate mining gear should be implemented to all miners. Corrective mining gear should mitigate most risks associated with hazards such as physical, electrical, heat, chemicals, biohazards, and airborne particulate matter. Miners should be equipped with steel capped safety shoes that is ISO 20345:2011 rated (International Organization for Standardization, 2011-2012), to prevent injury from falling debris or during the use of any heavy equipment. Miners should always consider wearing earmuffs or disposable ear plugs that is ISO/TS 4869-5:2006 rated, during all mining process as heavy equipment and blasting can cause severe injury to one’s ear drum and other connective tissue. Lastly, miners should always wear dust masks or respirators during all mining process. Dust mask and respirators should have a rating of FFP2, which prevent moderate levels of dust (A Complete Guide to Dust Masks Ratings, 2018). The use of RPE, is vital to one’s health as dust particulate and organic matter can enter the lungs causing numerous health implications. 

ERGONOMICS HAZARD

Lighting Ergonomics

   Light ergonomics is the relationship between the light source and the individual. Poor lighting can cause several problems such as, insufficient light (not enough light for the needed purpose), glare (too much light for the needed purpose), improper contrast, poorly distributed light and flicker (Roth, n.d.). In the movie “The 33” it was observed that the lighting conditions within the mine was very poor. Miners were constantly relying on the safety lights from their helmets to navigate throughout the mine. Additionally, during the mining process, it was also observed that the mine struggled from insufficient lighting, presenting several physical hazards. For general tunneling operations, a minimum illumination intensity of 5 foot-candles is required, although 10 foot-candles must be provided for shaft heading during drilling.

(Bosses, 2017) 

Poor lighting ergonomics is a severe breach in the OSH Act. Physical hazards are more likely to occur due to the inability to properly navigate or perform mining operations. According to the OSH Act of Trinidad and Tobago, in every part of an industrial establishment where employees are working or passing, there shall be provided and maintained sufficient and suitable lighting, natural or artificial, or both, in accordance with approved standards (OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ACT, 2004). Additionally, the doors, exit or exit routes mentioned in subsection (4) shall be fitted with emergency lighting and well maintained luminous or illuminated exit signs if the industrial establishment is used at night or where insufficient lighting is likely to occur during an electrical power failure (OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ACT, 2004).

   Poor lighting ergonomics is a severe breach in the OSH Act. Physical hazards are more likely to occur due to the inability to accurately navigate or perform mining operations. 

   Recommendations: A suitable lighting system should be implemented throughout the tunnel, shaft and mining area. Visibility throughout the mine should be at least 10 foot of candles of visibility. Additionally, tunnels, shaft and mining area should have a backup emergency lighting system. This is necessary in an emergency or failure of primary lighting system. The emergency lighting system should comprise of illuminated directed pathways, indicating the nearest exit or safe zone. Lastly, a proper communication station should be implemented, if total failure of visibility throughout the mine occurs.   

Health and Safety Kit Hazard

(Kit, HSE 20 Person Workplace)

After the event of the mine collapsing, it was observed that miners were unable to treat their wounds due to the medical storage being empty. This is a major breach in the OSH Act as workers should be provided with adequate medical supplies during working hours. This Act is especially important for employees that work within hazardous environments, as the risks of accidents are most likely to become elevated within such environment. According to the OSH Act of Trinidad and Tobago, “there  shall be provided and maintained so as to be readily accessible a first-aid box or cupboard of the standard prescribed by the Schedule to these Regulations and where more than one hundred and fifty persons are employed an additional box or cupboard for every additional one hundred and fifty persons.” (OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ACT, 2004).

Recommendations: To mitigate any potential risks, a medical data sheet (MDS) should be made of all past and present employees, stating their current conditions as well as any ailment or medical conditions. A suitable first aid box should be made in correlation to the MDS document, in the event of an injury or ailment.

Emergency Exit Hazard

(Bosses, 2017)

In the movie it was observed that vehicles as well as miners entered a single pathway at the entrance of the mine. This single pathway served as both exit, entrance and primary emergency exit. This is a major concern as (1) in the event of an emergency the primary exit may become over crowded as miners evacuate the mine (2) if the primary emergency exit is blocked or becomes impassable workers may overcrowd the flow of the secondary emergency causing a reduction in the flow of traffic that can possibly result in several physical hazards. Additionally, the secondary emergency exit located at the top of the mine is incomplete as mentioned in the movie. The continuous flow of ladders at the secondary emergency exit were never completed. It was later revealed that the owners of the gold mine did not fully complete the secondary exit due to shortage of funding. This is a severe breach in the OSH Act as miners can become trapped within the mine stemming from failure to provide an appropriate evacuation sites/strategies.  According to the OSH Act of Trinidad and Tobago, “ Where in an industrial establishment more than twenty persons are employed in the same building above the ground floor, or where explosive or highly flammable materials are stocked or used in a building where persons are employed, effective steps shall be taken to ensure that all employed persons are familiar with the means of escape, their use and the routine to be followed in case of fire and a record of the number and frequency of evacuation drills shall be kept and presented, on demand, for inspection by the fire authority.” (OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ACT, 2004).

   Recommendations: It is the duty of any organization to ensure that exit strategies are put in place in case of an emergency. It is recommended that multiple emergency exits are constructed and that all exits are well lit with appropriate illuminated directional signage. Each exit must take into consideration the volume of traffic flow correlating to the amount of employees within the establishment. All employees should also undergo monthly emergency drills, to familiarize oneself with the proper evacuation methods. 

PSYCHOLOGICAL HAZARD

(Bosses, 2017)

   A Psychological hazard can be defined as the aspects of the working environment that are thought to have the potential to affect negatively the well-being of employees. These negative effects of psychological hazards are often referred to as “strain” (The Institute for Employment Studies for the health and Safety Executive, 2001). In the movie “The 33” the workers working in the mines were faced with various psychological hazards. The first of these psychological hazards were the living and working conditions of the miners who were trapped in the mines. Being under these conditions caused mental issues and stresses to the workers of the mine. This was made even worse due to the temperatures which the miners faced in the mines which exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Act of Trinidad and Tobago, under the section of ventilation, “Every occupier of an industrial establishment that is not ventilated by a functioning air-conditioning system shall secure and maintain therein adequate and suitable ventilation by the circulation of fresh air.” This means that the mines were to be inspected and ensured that the workers’ working environment were at the right temperature to ensure the safety of the workers.

   Another psychological hazard faced by the working in the movie “The 33” is that the workers were forced to work under the constant fear of working in an environment where there is only one exit and entrance to the mine. This took a mental toll on the workers who had to do their jobs knowing that in the event of an emergency they had no alternative escape route to exit the mines. According to Section 28 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of Trinidad and Tobago, “Where in an industrial establishment more than twenty persons are employed in the same building above the ground floor, or where explosive or highly flammable materials are stocked or used in a building where persons are employed, effective steps shall be taken to ensure that all employed persons are familiar with the means of escape, their use and the routine to be followed in case of fire and a record of the number and frequency of evacuation drills shall be kept and presented, on demand, for inspection by the fire authority.” As a result, the organization in charge of the mining site should develop their mines with various access points as to allow employees working in the mine an alternative emergency exit route. By adding these alternative exit routes it can present workers with a sense of peace of mind as they know that if there is any unforeseen event in the mine such as a collapse they are able to exit the mines safely. 

   The workers also experienced an incredible unease as the mines constantly tumbled due to its instability. This made workers of the mines think that the working environment was not safe for work.

Conclusion

   It clearly shows that health and safety aspects should be considered with utmost consideration within the workplace as it can lead to an effective and efficient organization. Management needs to ensure that they equip their workers with the right tools when conducting an operation; in this case they should ensure that the miners have all necessary equipment including medical kits before entering the industrial site.They should also establish educational programs to enlighten their workers on all the risks involved when conducting certain works especially before entering the mine. The discussion above therefore makes us wonder all the calamities that can formulate and everything that should be regarded within our surroundings.  

Bibliography

A Complete Guide to Dust Masks Ratings. (2018, October 17). Retrieved from Respiratorshop:https://www.respiratorshop.co.uk/blog/a-complete-guide-to-dust-masks-ratings/

Biological hazard applications: Overview and procedure. (n.d.). Retrieved June 28, 2019, from https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/applications/biologicalhazard

Guild, R., Ehrlich, R., Johnston, J., & Ross, M. (2001). Handbook on Occupational Health Practice in the South African Mining Industry. Braamfontein: The Safety in Mine Research Advisory Committee (SIMRAC).

International Organization for Standardization. (2011-2012). Retrieved from Personal protective equipment — Safety footwear: https://www.iso.org/standard/51036.html

OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ACT. (2004). Retrieved from LAWS OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO: https://rgd.legalaffairs.gov.tt/laws2/alphabetical_list/lawspdfs/88.08.pdf

Roth, C. L. (n.d.). 

Search results for ‘labels’. (n.d.). Retrieved June 28, 2019, from https://simplysafetydecals.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=labels

The Hazards of Poor Lighting In The Workplace. Retrieved from Health and Safety International:  

https://www.hsimagazine.com/article/lighting-the-way-to-safety-722

Oshabosses. (2017, October 10). OSHA Bosses Analyse Occupational Health and Safety Issues in the Movie “The 33”. Retrieved June 27, 2019, from https://oshmatters.wordpress.com/2017/10/08/osha-bosses-analyse-occupational-health-and-safety-issues-in-the-movie-the-33/

Young, S. (2019, June 12). Get Inspired By The Survival Of ‘The ’33’. Retrieved June 28, 2019, from https://www.bustle.com/articles/121644-how-accurate-is-the-33-the-chilean-miner-drama-stays-close-to-the-facts


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“Can anyone save the world?” GET SMART

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Image result for get smart 2008 full movie

Source: Image from the movie (Get smart 2008)

 

Introduction

The movie Get Smart (2008), directed by Peter Segal is an action comedy that is focused on the main character Maxwell Smart who always dreamed of becoming a field agent. When Control headquarters was attacked by the terrorist organization KAOS, who exposed almost all the identities of their field agents, Max was promoted to be a new field agent to work alongside Agent 99 to take down this terrorist organization.

Our group have decided to use this movie to identify different types of hazards that agents can face while on the field. There are 5 types of hazards that agents can encounter on the field such as: Physical, biological, Ergonomic and Psychological.

The aim of this risk assessment analysis is to point out and analyse the hazards that occurred in the movie and us; the appropriate procedures in order to eliminate or control the hazards.

Ergonomic Hazards

What are Ergonomic Hazards? An ergonomic hazard is a physical factor within the environment that harms the musculoskeletal system. Being an Agent we can see all the physical hazards they are faced with regularly. Because these are hazards that are not openly spoken about many tend to turn a blind eye to these hazards that occur at the work place or in some instances it might not be known to the individual as this hazard doesn’t cause harm immediately but over a period of time.

A clear example of an Ergonomic hazard in the movie was seen when Max along with other agents were in the training facility where they were engaged in close combat hand to hand and shooting practice with the use of paint guns. This shows the level of physical strength the agents go through during training sessions and on the field. To reduce the amount of strain on the agents they are assigned a teammate and are regularly given in-house desk paperwork assignments.

via GIPHYAnimated GIF

Clip showing hazard

Psychological hazards

What are Psychological hazards? This is a type of hazard that affects psychological well-being of workers, including their ability to participate in a work environment among other people in a healthy and safe manner.

The first example of psychological hazard arose at the beginning of the movie where Max was not given the promotion to be a field agent even though he does a good job at intelligence in headquarters. This example shows a lack of job satisfaction and can lead to frustration and depression as Max has been working hard to become a field agent just to be told he’s not getting the promotion even though he passed the qualifying training exam with an exceptional grade.

Another example of Psychological hazard can be seen a few times throughout the movie known as bullying. Bullying is a repeated aggressive behavior in the workplace that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. In the agency, it is perceived that the longer an agent has been working, the more power they will have and therefore believe that they can control and manipulate the younger agents. 

Bruce and Lloyd two young agents have been bullied numerous times by two older agents throughout the movie, so they decided to take revenge on the bullies by creating a robot agent that looked like a human. The robot then stapled a paper to their heads, which is what the bullies had been doing to Bruce and Lloyd.

via GIPHYAnimated GIF

Clip showing Psychological hazard

PHYSICAL HAZARDS

What are Physical hazards? Physical hazards are factors or circumstances within an environment that can cause bodily harm.

In this movie there were numerous events that took place that could cause harm to actors and stunt doubles as the characters were constantly in dangerous positions. 

Physical hazards observed in the movie can be divided up into several categories.

  • Fire Hazard

It can happen in under a minute, first a flame then a life threatening fire blaze. Midway through the movie after receiving their next mission, Max and Agent 23 were in an airplane flying to their destination when suddenly Max discovers that he had stepped in some gum on his new shoes and makes and attempt to clean using a flammable match stick as seen below. 

via GIPHYAnimated GIF

clip showing Fire hazard

This is a potential Fire hazard because if lit and caught on the furniture of the plane can cause an explosion if spread to one of the plane’s gas lines putting everyone on board in great danger. This can be avoided if proper cleaning is used to remove the gum and accurate checks where made before entering the aircraft. Also in this scene and many others there were fires. Fires can cause not only because actors can get hurt but through smoke emerging from the fires. Throughout the movie there were scenes with smoke and smoke contaminates the eyes causing redness, irritation and blurred vision. Smoke can also lead to breathing problems primarily due to the narrowing of their airways and the destruction of lung tissues. Smoke can also cause irritation to the skin.

  •  Electrical Hazard

Electrical hazards can occur where there are any electrical wires, devices or technologies that are misused or not properly secured.

 In a particular fight scene agent 99 and Max were attacked by a huge man. In this scene the man takes a metal door and throws it at them rendering agent 99 unconscious and injuring Max. Max attempts to fight the man but is then thrown in a corner. Max calls out to agent 99 to wake up and she then attacks the man. The actor Anne Hathaway who plays the role of agent 99 was required to perform a series of martial arts techniques in an attempt to fight her opponent. Some of these moves involved jumping, kicking and cuffing. Performing a jump kick can put a person at risk of twisting their ankles and falling due to imbalance. These moves can also lead to muscle strains. In addition, within the scene, Agent 99 was thrown against a wall by the huge man, there falling debris consisting of electrical wires landed on her putting the actor at further risk as there can be exposed wires that can cause electric shock to her body. Shortly after they made an attempt to escape the burning high building and uses an electrical wire to swing to safety.

via GIPHY Animated GIF

clip showing electrical hazard

  •  Mechanical hazard

Mechanical hazards are created as a result of either powered or manual use of tools, equipment or machinery and plant. The hazards occur when there is a malfunctioning of the machinery due to over usage or poor maintenance. If proper PPE isn’t used this can cause bodily harm or even death to persons using the machine.

At the beginning and ending scenes of the movie we can easily notice a mechanical hazard where the doors to enter and exit the secret base would open and close automatically within a short time frame. This is a potential hazard as the doors don’t seem to have motion detectors in which agents can be crushed if not time correctly. See image below which shows Max attempting to fix the door without using proper PPE and was crushed by the door.

via GIPHYAnimated GIF

clip showing mechanical hazard 

  • Slip,Trip,Fall

There were 2 occasions where slip trip fall could have occurred and did happen during the movie. The first slip,trip,fall was during Max and Agent 23’s mission where they infiltrated one of the bad guys home during a formal party. During this scene they had to maneuver through high intensity lasers in order to obtain information needed to defeat the terrorist organization KAOS.

This is a potential hazard because if any part of their body touches the lasers it would immediately be sliced off. Shortly after while Max was manoeuvring the lasers it was discovered that a rat as on him which then entered his clothing, and u can imagine what complications happened next.

The second Slip, Trip, Fall identified when Max Tries to stop Agent 99 from carrying out KAOS plans after recently learning the truth about Agent 99. In this scene Max exits an airplane while in air with no PPE during a speed chase to save Agent 23. This is highly dangerous and could lead to death if he loses his grip as he isn’t wearing a harness nor a parachute for safety.

via GIPHY Animated GIF

clip showing slip,trip,fall

MICROBIOLOGICAL HAZARD

Microbiological hazard occurs when food becomes polluted by microorganisms which are commonly associated with foodborne illnesses  that include bacteria, viruses and parasites.

Microorganisms are found in the air, food, water, soil, animals and the human body. Many microorganisms are helpful and necessary for life itself. However, given the right conditions, some microorganisms may cause a foodborne illness. 

This type of hazard was noticed in the movie ‘Get Smart’, of approximately one(1) minute of the beginning of the movie, where there was open food, more specifically an open sandwich in the refrigerator along with another subway sandwich in which the subway sandwich was halfway wrapped in paper.  Despite one of the sandwiches being halfway wrapped, one can assume that the sandwich contained ingredients that could have build up bacteria. 

Bread, the basic ingredient of the sandwich, is made from cereal grains ground into flour.  Fermented bread is softer due to the action of yeast, which is a fungus. Yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) contributes both to the texture and flavour of bread.  

There are molds which are involved in spoilage of bread include rhizopus, mucor, penicillium, eurotium, aspergillus and monilia (Saranraj and Geetha 2012). Likewise, yeast spoilage known as ” Chalk mold ” is caused by Pichia butonii.

So the bread along with the additional ingredients inside the sandwiches, such as vegetables, meat (if any) and various condiments can continue to spoil the sandwich if left open in the refrigerator.  

Open food in the fridge will dry out and the taste of it will diminish.  Some foods absorb odors from other foods and this gives rise to food poisoning.  Food poisoning is frequently caused by bacteria from food that have been incorrectly stored, prepared and handled or cooked.  It is understood that if food is not stored properly, the bacteria in it can multiply to dangerous levels.  

Food safety guide suggest that food should not be at room temperature for more than two (2) hours.  So, in terms of the sandwich in the movie, once the sandwich was placed in the fridge before it sat out long enough to grow bacteria, then it should be fine to consume if in the fridge overnight.  However, the opened sandwich in the refrigerator was noticed at the very beginning of the movie, so one is not sure or aware how long the sandwich was in room temperature before being placed into the fridge, so one can only assume and state the effects of leaving the open food in the fridge.   

Secondly, another instance where food poisoning is seen to occur, is where the actor Stever Carell, referred to as Maxwell Smart, takes out a carton of milk from the refrigerator and poured it into his cup of tea, which came out clumpy and thick.  Due to this, he noted to himself that he had to buy new milk. It is understood that when curdles, as the pH drops and becomes more acidic, the protein molecules attract one another and become curdled. This reaction happens more at warm temperatures than it does at cold temperatures.  

Curdled milk, can make one become ill.  The high levels of lactic acid are also what give curdled milk its characteristically sour smell.  In both cases, curdled milk is as dangerous as it was before curdling.

Spoiled milk is caused by microbial contamination of the milk, and it is not considered safe for human consumption.  It is noted that if one drinks milk past the expiry date, you can run the risk of developing food poisoning from unhealthy bacteria that might have grown in the milk.  This would cause a person to develop stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea and even a fever.

CONCLUSION

The movie, ‘Get Smart’ aired in the year (2008) directed by American, Peter Segal, a film director, producer, screenwriter and actor represents five (5) different hazards occurring in a comical manner. These hazards displayed throughout the movie was clearly distinguishable as the team had adequate knowledge to know to spot the calamities as they occur. 

Physical hazard describes a factor or circumstance that can cause impairment with or without contact.  In understanding this type of hazard it includes fire, electrical, slip and trip and mechanical which are the majority physical hazards spotted in the movie, and is in relation to physical hazards and tends to cause harm without bodily contact.

In relation to the hazard mentioned before, there is the rise of ergonomic hazards- a physical factor within the environment that harms the musculoskeletal system and can lead to musculoskeletal disorder due to the risk of injury in the muscles or ligaments of the lower back, tendons or nerves of the hand and wrist.

Psychological hazard however, is considered any type of hazard that affects the mental well-being or mental health of the worker by overwhelming individual coping mechanisms and impacting the worker’s ability to work in a healthy and safe manner.

Not forgetting to mention, but in terms of microbiological hazards, generally this microbiological contamination is not only a concern in the movie (Get Smart) but in reality a worldwide public health concern, as most causes of foodborne illnesses are of microbiological origin.

All in all, it is necessary that proper precautions and measures be taken and set in place to avoid and lessen such hazards from occurring within a person’s surroundings, which can cause harm. 


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BLENDED – TRIPLE S

Image result for blended

Introduction

The movie blended directed by, Frank Coraci is about a divorced mother Lauren and widowed father, Jim played by Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler. In the movie the pair were set up on a blind date by their respective friends. During the date it became evident that they were not a good match for each other and as such they pair wanted nothing to do with each other. As fate would have it both parents paid for one half of a vacation package to a South Africa resort. They and their children are forced to share the same suite and participate in a slew of family activities together.

Psychological Hazards

A psychological hazard is any hazard that affects the mental well-being or mental health of the worker by overwhelming an individual’s coping mechanisms and impacting the worker’s ability to work in a healthy and safe manner.  Psychological hazard can manifest itself in various forms namely; stress, overload, boredom, uncertainty, and lack of control, fear, anger, emotional tensions and bullying. In the movie blended, psychological hazard was presented in different forms.

Anger – The first psychological hazard in the movie Blended was in the scene during Tyler’s baseball game, when he got strike out he was so angry he began hitting the bat on the base and screaming. There was a guy sitting behind Lauren and Jen in the stand made rude comments about Tyler’s behavior and they in turned snapped at the guy. Tyler was angry and disappointed because he wasn’t successfully in the game and both Lauren and Jen displayed anger toward the guy. In this scene, many anger and frustration was displayed. Another scene in the movie is when Brendan challenged Jim to a fight, where Brendan was able to release his anger. Anger can be dangerous to your health, the long-term physical effects of uncontrolled anger include increased anxiety, high blood pressure and headache. 

Stress – Throughout the movie Blended the character Lauren encountered many stressful situations.  First, when her son Tyler was hanging and swinging on the elephant statue tusk, Tyler could have hurt himself seriously and gave his mom a heart attack.  Another scene is the ostrich ride in their Africa trip. A frightened ostrich can achieve a speed of 72.5 kilometers (45 miles) per hour. If cornered, it can deliver dangerous kicks capable of killing lions and other large predators. Deaths from kicks and slashes are rare, with most attacks resulting from humans provoking the birds. Their legs can also be formidable weapons. Ostrich kicks can kill a human, or a potential predator like a lion. Each two-toed foot has a long, sharp claw.  Lauren’s parachute ride was also stressful for her, especially when the gas ran out from the jeep, and she had to do an emergency landing by herself, she thought she was going to die. Stress is the body’s reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response and can affect one’s health. The body reacts to these changes with physical, mental, and emotional responses.

This clip displayed below is a scene from the movie, which highlight emotional tension. As they   went sightseeing in Africa in jeeps without protection from the wild animals. They witnessed some animals being violent towards each other.  This created some emotional distress and fear to all especially the children.   

Ergonomic Hazards

An ergonomic Hazard can be defined as any physical element in the environment that can result in injury or physical stress to the musculoskeletal system. This can usually be caused by a multitude of factors such as awkward positioning of the body, repetitive tasks and overexertion of the muscle, causing strain injuries.

In the movie, there were some scenes where ergonomic hazards were clearly evident.

Inset: Safety instructor’s sleeping/sitting position

Excerpt from the movie “Blended”: Ostrich riding scene

During the trip, Jim and Lauren’s son decides to have some fun and climb onto 2 ostriches (without any saddle or reins) and begin their wild and entertaining scene. Meanwhile, on the sidelines, the safety instructor is slouching on the chair sleeping which can cause spine alignment issues along with other negative impacts to the body. Jim eventually goes flying off his ostrich landing in a spine-debilitating position on a water bed. The little boy then attempts a neck-breaking maneuver (front flip) to dismount from his ostrich.  

Lauren is seen on two occasions lifting her son, who is about 8 years old , while he is asleep and carries him to bed. Because of his height the way she has to carry him is very strenuous on her. When lifting a heavy object it should never be above shoulder level due to Tyler’s height a lot of his weight rest of Lauren’s shoulders as he is hunched over her shoulders. She also loses balance a lot when carrying him and stumbles and even falls with him due to how heavy he is, the way she picks him up and the fact that she is wears heels when doing this can have adverse effects on her body in the futures.

At the hotel when she was carrying sleeping Tyler to the hotel room, she hit his head several times on the protruding walls walls of the hallway as she tried to get him to bed. This can cause neck and head injury to Tyler.

Chemical Hazards

Definition:  A Chemical Hazard refers to any naturally occurring or man-made chemical compound that has the inherent ability to cause temporary or permanent damage to the environment (soil, air, salt and freshwater) and by extension the life forms that exist in these environments; causing disruptions in the mechanics of the various biochemical pathways essential to the proper growth and development of plant and animal  life.

Figure 1:  Brendan spraying babysitter with the contents of fire extinguisher

Figure 2: Babysitter being inundated with the contents of a fire extinguisher

In the movie:

In the kitchen Brendan confronts the babysitter with a fire extinguisher, releasing the contents of the extinguisher into her face for a true slapstick moment. However, foam fire extinguishers contain Aqueous Film Foaming Foam (AFFF). AFFF belongs to a chemical family of substances known as Perfluoroalklyl substances, specifically Perfluorooctane Sulfonic Acid (PFOS) and Perfluoroctanoic Acid (PFOA), chemical surfactant mixtures used specifically to separate combustible vapours thus suppressing fires. These highly fluorinated chemicals are associated with ulcerative colitis, kidney cancer and liver and thyroid problems. Research (Olsen et al 1999) and (Stahl et al 2011) suggests that the average individual will seldom encounter significant levels of PFAS’s in the course of their everyday life to warrant the concern associated with highly fluorinated compounds. This scene in the movie suggest otherwise.

The Material Safety Data Sheet for “Chemguard 3% C – 303 AFFF” identifies the pathways for entry into the body as absorption, inhalation and ingestion. Suggesting that in an effort to prevent the risk of AFFF exposure barriers to entry should be utilized. Such barriers afford protection to eyes (goggles), skin (latex or plastic gloves) and respiratory tract – via mouth and nose (organic vapour respirator). 

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 704 hazard rating system scores AFFF in the following way:

Health:                   1 – Causes irritation

Flammability:           1 – Combustible if heated

Instability/Reactivity: 0 – Not reactive to water

Biological Hazards

Biological hazards are organic substances that pose a threat to the health of humans and other living organisms. Biological Hazards come from sources that can cause a variety of health effects ranging from skin irritation and allergies to infections. These sources may include bacteria, viruses, insects, plants, birds, animals and even humans. “It is estimated that around 320 000 workers die each year from communicable diseases caused by work-related exposure to biological hazards”.  (Driscoll et al. 2005; OSHA 2007).

In the movie Blended there were a host of biological hazards on display.

Riding around the desert on ATV’s – In the movie, on biological hazard noted was that when the families were riding around the desert in Africa on ATV’s without any respiratory protection to safeguard the individuals from any biological hazard for any respiratory ailments. The Sahara dust presents more serious problems for asthmatics which can lead to silicosis, a lung disease caused due to a high content of quartz in the dust, a lung disease caused due to a high content of quartz in the dust. Those who also suffer from sinus ailments are also at risk. The Sahara Dust also poses the risk of skin irritation. People with allergy issues also suffer. Symptoms can include trouble breathing, asthma attacks, incessant sneezing, swelling of the throat and eyes, coughing, watery and itchy eyes, runny and stuffy nose.

Parachute sailing over the African Savannah –  In the movie the mother, Lauren was parachute sailing over the African Savannah. Jim told her not to swallow anything up there in case of Malaria seeing that they were situated close to wild animals and the presence of tropical infectious diseases such as Malaria and Schistosomiasis which can be life threatening. Infectious and parasitic diseases attribute to the high proportion of deaths in the Sub-Saharan African Region. These diseases account for one-quarter to one-third of the deaths of young adults in the region and figure prominently in Sub-Saharan Africa’s persistently high levels of adult mortality, as well as its large burdens of disability.

Physical Hazards

Physical Hazards are factors in an environment that can harm you physically and jeopardize your physical safety. They are the most common hazard or risk in the workplace.  Physical hazards can be categorized in 4 ways, those are:

  1. Mechanical Hazards
  2. Falling and Lifting Hazards
  3. Electrical and Fire Hazards
  4. Temperature and Pressure Hazards

In the movie Blended there were a host of physical hazards on display.

Running around the kitchen with a large open flame – In the movie one of the Hazards that was spotted was when he youngest of Lauren’s Son, Tyler was seen  running around the kitchen with the shirt on a pole… The shirt was on fire. This may have caused harm to him or the other persons in the kitchen at the time. Resulting in injuries for example first and second degree burns. As a recommendation, I would suggest keeping fire starting material such as lighter fluid, matches and lighter out of the reach of children.

Rollerblading around the kitchen – Another Physical Hazard observed was again with Lauren’s youngest son as he was running and rollerblading around the kitchen as she was preparing a meal. This could have caused hard to him, as he may have easily bumped into his mother if she was carrying around cooking utensils such as knives and pots. Our recommendation for this risk is for parents in this case lauren to enforce strict rules within their household. Keep outdoor activities outdoors. However, it is important to note that the pot handles were properly placed and not  exposed on the outside of the stove.

Possible Head injuries – A third physical risk observed in the movie blended was again dealing with Tyler. When he was playing baseball and he struck out he began hitting his bat against the home plate. This can be very dangerous as there is a strong possibility that the bat could deflect of the home plate and hit him in the face, as he wasn’t wearing a helmet with a grill. Another risk arouse when Tyler’s older brother participated in a sparring with Jim. In this scene they were both not wearing appropriate headgear. Both these incidents can have major physical ramifications by was off head injuries such as concussions. We recommend when doing physical activity where there is a chance of heavy hits to the face one should wear proper headgear for protection. Moreover throughout the film there were instances where the characters should have been wearing helmets but weren’t. These include when the families were riding atvs in the savannah and when Jim and Tyler were riding Ostriches, with the case with the ostriches it is very dangerous to not be supervised when interacting with the animal as it can cause serious bruising and internal damage from it kicks. The safety supervisor at the time was indeed asleep.

Jeep runs out of gas – In the movie the mother, Lauren was parachute sailing over the African Savannah. Suddenly  the jeep ran out of gas, since the jeep was now longer moving forward Lauren began to fall quickly to the ground even though she was attached to the parachute. This could have resulted in injuries like broken bones or even death.


References

Comcare. “Biological Hazards.” Comcare. October 05, 2019. Accessed June 28, 2019. https://www.comcare.gov.au/preventing/hazards/biological_hazards.

Stahl, T., Mattern, D., Brunn, H. 2011. “Toxicology of perfluorinated compounds.” Environmental Sciences Europe 23:38, 1–52

IMDb Blended (2014) Full Cast & Crew web.accessed 6/27/19  https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1086772/fullcredits 

Material Safety Data Sheet. Chenguard 3% AFFF C – 303. pdf. web accessed 6/27/19 https://www.chemguard.com/pdf/fire-suppression/datasheets/C303.pdf

“Read “In Her Lifetime: Female Morbidity and Mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa” at NAP.edu.” National Academies Press: OpenBook. Accessed June 28, 2019. https://www.nap.edu/read/5112/chapter/11.

Adetunji, Jacob, and Visiting Research Fellow. “Explainer: What Dust from the Sahara Does to You and the Planet.” The Conversation. May 21, 2019. Accessed June 28, 2019. https://theconversation.com/explainer-what-dust-from-the-sahara-does-to-you-and-the-planet-57373.

Parsanlal, Nneka. “Saharan Dust: What You Need To Know.” Caribbean Communications Network. March 18, 2019. Accessed June 28, 2019. https://www.tv6tnt.com/news/local/saharan-dust-what-you-need-to-know/article_83a4916e-4999-11e9-bade-b731e78240b2.html.

“Ostrich.” National Geographic, 24 Sept. 2018, www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/o/ostrich/

Department of Health & Human Services. “Anger – How It Affects People.” Better Health Channel, Department of Health & Human Services, 31 Jan. 2014, www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/anger-how-it-affects-people.

“What Is Stress? Symptoms, Signs & More.” Cleveland Clinic, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11874-stress.


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BLACK HAWK HAZARD!! – Oshtastic

Introduction

Somalia is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Ethiopia to the west, Djibouti to the northwest, the Gulf of Aden to the north, the Somali Sea and Guardafui Channel to the east, and Kenya to the southwest. Somalia is roughly the size of the state of Texas with a stifling arid climate. Despite its lack of arable land; Somalia possesses a strategic location on the Eastern coast of Africa which has historically made it a tempting target for European colonizers well into the 20th century. After its independence from European conquerors in 1960, the power vacuum that remained was filled by a ruthless military dictator: Muhammad Siad Barre, who seized control of the government in a coup. During his reign he subjected the Somalian people to “scientific socialism” resulting in the devastation of an already-poor economy and the mass starvation of the people.

In 1991 the government was again forced out, this time due to civil unrest. Once again this left a power vacuum at the head of the Somalian government. The vacuum was soon filled by fighting clans of violent warlords, including the soviet trained strongman Mohamed Farrah Aidid. By 1992, the famine in Somalia had killed an estimated 100,000 people in just five months. The United Nations attempts to deliver food in a humanitarian aid effort were thwarted by the chaos reigning in the country. But General Aidid was less than grateful. “We don’t need outsiders,” he said, and threatened the peacekeepers that he would “send them home in body bags.”

On Oct. 3, 1993, 160 U.S. soldiers led Operation Gothic Serpent into Mogadishu, the Somalian capital, on a mission to capture Aidid and his top lieutenants. The troops consisted mostly of Army Rangers and Delta Force Operators who were some of the most elite battle units and Special Forces in the entire world. They also had the assistance of Pakistani and Malaysian task forces. The mission was meant to take no more than 90 minutes but for those at the center of the fighting it must have felt like a lifetime. During the battle two Blackhawk helicopters were shot down and the mission changed from prisoner capture to search and rescue. 

Psychological Hazards:

Psychological hazards are aspects of the work environment and the way that work is organised that are associated with mental disorders and/or physical injury or illness. When psychosocial hazards are not effectively managed, they can negatively impact on organisational measures including productivity, absenteeism and turnover. If not managed effectively, psychosocial hazards can impact on workers’ psychological and physical health and wellbeing. They can also adversely affect job satisfaction, organisational commitment and can cause conflict in the worker’s family life. Psychological hazards that can negatively impact on a worker’s health and safety include work-related stress, work related bullying, work related violence and work related fatigue.

“Only the dead have seen the end of war”

“Only the dead have seen the end of war” Pluto. This was how this movie began. This single line already begins to weigh heavily on the mind. The Rangers were heading into war torn Mogadishu Somalia and despite being well trained soldiers, the history and the very look of this place can ravish any human. The Militants were heartless and did not think twice to kill whatever got in their way. The Rangers witnessed civilians being killed while they were trying to get food. They wanted to engage and were given orders not to. This was disturbing to the Rangers as they were ready and willing to engage. They literally witnessed innocent civilians dying. These were the militants they were about to fight. This can cause them build up hate and a desire to kill those responsible. They can become more focused being a killer which can affect the way they relate to others even when off duty. The likelihood of this happening is remote however with continued exposure this will increase. Severity is moderate. The residual risk rating is acceptable and the recommendation is to monitor.

The operation was supposed to last three weeks however it extended to six weeks. During this time, they were away from their families, homes and comfort. This could lead to homesickness. The likelihood of this happening is probable. Severity is negligible. The residual risk rating is acceptable and the recommendation is to monitor.

“Get on that Ffity!!”

The non-stop gunfire and their fellow troops falling beside them after being shot is a definite precursor to Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A particular instance of this is when a Ranger manning the 50Cal was shot and fell into the vehicle apparently dead, the Commander immediately instructed for someone to “get on that 50!”  How difficult that would have been for the Rangers there, your brother in arms just fell dead next to you and you are instructed to immediately take his place.

 Another scene was where a Ranger was blown into two pieces at the waist and on his last breath his only thoughts went to his children. He gave the Ranger running to his aid a message for his children. On the topic of children, there were children and women fighters among the Militia some of whom were killed. It surely brings to mind the adverse culture that exists within the world. It can cause one living through this nightmare to have deep thoughts about life and purpose. Watching the movie can do this furthermore for those on the battlefield.

The Militia killed a Ranger, stripped him and paraded him through the streets like a trophy.  That would have enraged his comrades as they would have felt that they could have done more to save him. In another scene the medic was trying to save a Range who had been shot through his femoral artery, when he died everyone was silent. No one spoke. Sadness came over them, this is normal when someone dies however; the effect of so many deaths in such violent ways is another precursor to Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Another scene which would contribute greatly to this is when they returned to their temporary base and saw so many of their comrades being placed into body bags. The Rangers that had to account for the bodies and take them home would have had a great deal to handle as these were their follow Rangers who they may have also been friends with. The Rangers would have had to live with that experience and never seeing their fallen comrades again for the rest of their lives. It would have been particularly difficult for the three years that followed as their target was still alive. They might feel that their mission was a failure and that their comrades died in vain. He was killed three years later.

The Rangers have, in many ways, found means of dealing with the stress associated with being away from home. They read, played cards, watched television, told jokes, played music and cooked. This seemed to have passed the time and built their comrade and esprit de corps. Many of the Rangers carried photos of family members and trinkets to remind them of home and family. “No one gets left behind”, this is the mantra which gets them going and gets them through. It lets them know that no matter what, injured or dead, they will not be left behind.

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape or other violent personal assault. PTSD affects approximately 3.5 % of U.S. adults and an estimated one in 11 people will be diagnosed PTSD in their lifetime. Women are twice as likely as men to have PTSD. For a person to be diagnosed with PTSD, however, symptoms last for more than a month and often persist for months and sometimes years. Many individuals develop symptoms within three months of the trauma, but symptoms may appear later. For people with PTSD the symptoms cause significant distress or problems functioning. PTSD often occurs with other related conditions, such as depression, substance use, memory problems and other physical and mental health problems.

Acute stress disorder occurs in reaction to a traumatic event, just as PTSD does, and the symptoms are similar. However, the symptoms occur between three days and one month after the event. People with acute stress disorder may relive the trauma, have flashbacks or nightmares and may feel numb or detached from themselves.  These symptoms cause major distress and cause problems in their daily lives. About half of people with acute stress disorder go on to have PTSD. An estimated 13 to 21% of survivors of car accidents develop acute stress disorder and between 20 and 50 % of survivors of assault, rape or mass shootings develop it.

The likelihood of acute stress disorder is frequent even with just one exposure. Severity is significant. However, repeated exposure can lead to PTSD. The residual risk rating is catastrophic acceptable and the recommendation is to stop. The likelihood of PTSD is frequent even with just one exposure. Severity is significant. However, repeated exposure can catastrophic on an individual and his/her family. The residual risk rating is catastrophic acceptable and the recommendation is to stop.

Recommendations

Psychotherapy, including cognitive behaviour therapy can help control symptoms and help prevent them from getting worse and developing into PTSD.  Medication, such as SSRI antidepressants can help ease the symptoms. These will always have to be applied for people in this area of work. These are not hazards that can easily be stopped as it is within the job specifications. These methods such as therapy and vacation time can help monitor those risks that are at acceptable levels.

Physical Hazards:

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From the beginning of the movie we see many hazards being identified and they seem to all intertwine. The Somali militia men have intercepted a food truck and begin shooting in the crowd an act that obviously turns fatal for some of the Somalis seeking food. After that they are seen driving wildly through the streets of Mogadishu. This now poses a crashing hazard which will defeat the purpose of their drive which was to pick up ‘Atto’ one of Aidid’s men fortunately for them they got there in one piece. Unfortunately this is one hazard that cannot be avoided as the militia want to impose their force and strength and their fellow Somali’s and do this by being impulsive and driving wild.

Noise – What???!!!

In the clip shown here, Nelson’s squad mate Twombly, fired a burst of M60 right next to Nelsons head, causing him to be deaf for the remainder of the movie. This is just one occurrence that is shown but this is a reality throughout the movie and in war. Normal sound levels in a conversation are between 60 – 70 decibel range between 70 – 85 is very loud and anything above 85 can damage your hearing. So let’s look at the stats an M60 (which is what is used here) causes a sound vibration of 155dba (decibels). At that close range I wouldn’t be surprised if Nelson became permanently deaf… Did he…I wonder……? However would an earplug have made a difference in this case? At that close range probably not but for normal use (whatever is considered normal at war) maybe it would have. The pros and cons of gun use at war. Usually hand signals are used to warn each other of oncoming militia etc., however you still need to hear your buddy calling out to you. It is very difficult in war to block out all noise and the use of Level-dependent ‘combat arms earplugs’ should have been in use here. (Maybe Nelson forgot to put them on…. who knows!!)

The Pilots of the hawks however are the lucky ones. Those guys got to wear their noise cancelling headphones! But, does this help? Yes it does but it still does not bring it down to the normal to loud range of 60 – 85dba, why..….well we are in a Blackhawk helicopter and in war. Again pros and cons of war. There is equipment available for the pilots, co-pilots and soldiers whether they are in the air or on the ground to protect their ears, how many of them make use of it however is questionable. It is difficult for the SSG’s (Staff Sergeants) to check every soldier when in war so the onus is on the soldier to ensure that they are wearing the correct and necessary PPE.

Heat Stress – Mogadishu = Heat

The average temperature in Mogadishu in October is hot at 27 °C (80.6 °F). Afternoons can be very hot with average high temperatures reaching 30 °C (86 °F). As persons living in a tropical zone we may want to say …. “But that’s not very hot at all that’s normal everyday temperatures for us……” and we could be right. However for a soldier born and bred in a temperate zone that would be scorching heat. Coupled with sand blowing all over and all 50 – 60 lbs of gear on his body what he feels is about 45 °C (113 °F). So yes it scorching for him. Adding to this, especially for this movie, the soldier is on the battlefield engaging militia, constantly moving.

If you are at home and outside becomes hot you can go inside have a drink of cold water and cool down. These soldiers do not have that luxury. They are literally in the ‘heat of things’. Heat stress causes increased irritability, dehydration, heat exhaustion, cramps, rashes, burns, sweaty palms, dizziness and heat stroke, none of which can be dealt with when you are engaging militia.

Now at that time soldiers would have had two (2) camouflage water canteens (how many of them actually put water in it is a good question…..!) However, depending on how long you are to be out in the field sufficient water should be provided in the equipment that goes out with a convoy, (if you can find room for guns, you can find room for water).  In the case of Black Hawk Down they were not really supposed to be out there more than two (2) hours but that was not the case. At least one of the convoy vehicles need to be outfitted with a way to keep water potable and cool in situations like this. Even if they believe that they should only be out there for a short period of time it is war and the unthinkable can happen! In recent time all Humvees have been outfitted with air condition, it’s time for them to be outfitted with a separate area for refrigeration.

Falls – Helicopter

Using Black Hawk helicopters to lower the soldiers onto the ground, an unexpected attack by Somalian forces brings two of the helicopters down. This presents a literal falling hazard although the soldiers are trained for combat this one particular soldier (Blackburn) is a “newbie”, never fought in any battle let alone jump out of a helicopter.

 “Go Blackburn go!” shouted SSG Eversmann as PFC Blackburn reached out to deploy from Super 67, an enemy RPG fired upon the helicopter. The pilot’s evasive maneuvers threw Blackburn off balance and he misses the rope, down he went 70 feet, slamming to the ground sustaining severe injuries causing him to be extracted back to base.

There were no grappling hooks to secure the soldier in an event that he missed the rope. Given that it is war it may be understood that they need to quickly deploy, however look at what happens. A simple hook would have assured that Blackburn would have been attached to the rappel rope, so even if he lost his grip he would not have slammed to the ground. PFC Blackburn was also very inexperienced as this was his first mission and this was his first time in deploying from a hawk. So inexperience and the evasive move caused this to be an almost fatal day for the soldier.

This technique is called fast roping and although it seems quite unsafe in war you need to get out of that helicopter, hit the ground and get moving faster than an RPG can be launched at you. Throughout the movie these ranger soldiers have to deploy from the helicopters and time after time they use only their hands for the support, it is the quickest way however, it is the most dangerous. If a small hook similar to the D-ring or snap-link used in rappelling can be applied to the protective vest that they wear, this may improve any issue of falling out of the helicopter because of missing the rope. The rope will be now attached to the soldier while he is deploying from the helicopter. Downside of this is that only one soldier can deploy at a time. Pros and cons of the job in war!!

Biological Hazards:

Biological hazards, which can also be invoked to as biohazards, refer to biological content that can pose significant health and safety risks to individuals. Such hazards can be derived from various means which includes but is not limited to sewerage, food waste and contaminated water. As such, when biohazards go unnoticed or no mitigation measures are implemented, the result can be detrimental causing health effects which includes infections, allergies, skin irritations and even fatalities.

This movie is based on heavy war between the U.S forces and the militia headed by Mohamed Farrah Aidid. As a result, a significant number of killings took place in such an environment. The biological hazards derived in this movie stems primarily from dead bodies lying all over the streets as well as contaminated water sources. The rangers must move quickly and strategically throughout the buildings and houses in an attempt to not be seen by the militia. So, when a ranger gets shot and killed, there isn’t any time for the body to be removed from the site. Hence, it is left there to be decomposed. Similarly, when members of Aidid’s militia are killed, their bodies remain on site.

Moreover, in the movie, the types of ammunition used to kill in the war zone adds to the severity of biohazards. In one scene, the rangers used a particular device that when triggered, it caused an explosion as opposed to just bullets being fired. Consequently, this caused bodies to be blown apart and body parts and bodily substances would have flown all over. Hence, bacteria and other contents would have caused an extreme increase in infections and diseases to become widespread. To further add, a ripple effect occurs when such events happen. Bacteria and other contents from dead bodies tend to contaminate water sources. This contributed to the spread of diseases and infections from person to person because in such a country, it is similar to a dessert and water sources are limited and not treated as it should be. So, when individuals use it for their personal use; drinking or cooking; they are ingesting dangerous content that can lead to a multitude of diseases and even death.

Recommendations:

The United Nations would have been the body responsible for mitigation measures. Such measures can include removing dead bodies from the streets in a timely manner so that the spread of bacteria and other harmful contents can be suppressed as much as possible. Additionally, water sources can be treated so that it can be safe for human use.

Ergonomic Hazards:

Seventeen hours of hunching, ducking, running, carrying the bodies of their fallen comrades and shooting to save their lives, undoubtedly a plethora of ergonomic hazards in Mogadishu is created. Helicopters were not equipped with proper seating; thus no back support was provided for soldiers. This can result in the development of several Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD), such as herniated disks and back strains which are the most common type of injuries in the military. As the movie progresses, the theme of no back support continues as we are treated to the sight of a soldier hunched over a keyboard entering the data of PFC. Blackburn, sitting on a chair with not much support for his back. He is further at risk as the monotony of his job can ultimately result in the development of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, further exacerbated by the positioning of his wrists on a desk crowded with files and other materials. A more ergonomically friendly seat, along with hand rests on the desk to keep the keyboard and mouse in line with his elbows and decluttering would resolve this risk.  

The equipment necessary for optimal protection also served as an ergonomic risk to these soldiers as they, fuelled by their American pride were willing to compromise their safety for comfort. This as it was seen led to the untimely death of Sgt Joyce. A simple fix to this problem would be maintaining all parts of PPE. In addition to the lack of PPE by the American soldiers, the angles that both the Somalian “Skinnies” and American “Friendlies” were required to shoot their enemies, the constant hunching behind burnt vehicles and collapsing buildings, and running from one position to another for long hours would ultimately result in discomfort, pain and other symptoms of MSD.  Many of these Skinnies were untrained and therefore did not have knowledge of proper positioning, causing a hazard.  If support from the United Nations was provided to the US soldiers at the beginning of the raid, this hazard could have been alleviated or even prevented. 

Chemical Hazards: 

 A chemical hazard is a type of occupational hazard caused by exposure to chemicals in the workplace and can pose a wide range of health hazards such as irritation, sensitization, and carcinogenicity. If the hazard is very severe, it can even result in death. 

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The first chemical hazard observed from the movie, can be seen when the Somali militia are attempting to riot and cause chaos by burning tyres, debris and even setting a car on fire. The chemical they used to ignite these fires is gasoline. This can be said to be a chemical hazard because the fire emissions contain pollutants such as; particulates, carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur oxides (SOx), oxides of nitrogen (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and metals such as cadmium, nickel, zinc, mercury, chromium, and vanadium. In addition, these pollutants can cause significant short and long- term health effects. Depending on the length and degree of exposure, these health effects could include irritation of the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes, respiratory effects, asphyxiation, central nervous system depression, and cancer.  

In another scene, a ranger called Blackburn has fallen from the helicopter and is seriously injured and fellow ranger Streucker, attempts to help him. However, he has great difficulty as the helicopter above them is hovering very close to the ground and causing the sand, dust and other pollutants to obscure breathing and vision. The sand and dust on the ground contain traces of propellants, cordite, and gunpowder which are all chemical compounds found in guns and missiles. These chemicals all contain high amounts of Lead, which can lead to Lead poisoning. Inhaled or ingested lead enters the bloodstream and is distributed throughout the body. Over time, it collects and is stored in the bones, leading to significant and even permanent damage to a person’s organs and health. It can lead to conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, memory loss and difficulty concentrating, hearing and vision problems, tiredness, irritability and mood disorder and lower cognitive function.

As the movie continues, during a war between the militia and rangers; the militia fired a Rocket – Propelled Grenade (RPG) rocket at a Black Hawk Helicopter. The helicopter is hit and catches fire, emitting smoke and eventually crashing and killing a pilot. The chemical compounds contained in a RPG rocket are; nitro-glycerine powder and gunpowder. When the rocket was launched at the helicopter an explosion occurred with the residue of the compounds of the RPG being spewed into the air. This is the main and constant environment where the rangers are engaging in battle, so inhalation of these chemicals puts them at great risk. Nitro-glycerine is a contact explosive, with physical shock causing it to explode, and it degrades over time to even more unstable forms. This makes nitro-glycerine highly dangerous to transport or use, it is one of the world’s most powerful explosives. The continued inhalation of this powder can lead to heart difficulties such as heart attacks and in recent studies, soldiers who were exposed to this chemical for certain periods of time suffered aneurysms. 

Recommendations:

The US Forces should ensure their rangers have proper ventilation through the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as respirator masks specifically, the M50 Gas mask used in military forces and, protective clothing.

The helicopter pilot of the U.S Forces should be properly trained to be aware that in emergency situations when rangers are on the ground attempting to control a situation, the aircraft must maintain sufficient distance from the ground to not obscure their vision and breathing.

References

Biological Hazards. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.comcare.gov.au/preventing/hazards/biological_hazards

Hansen, C. (2019, February 1). Deleterious Impact of Tire-Burning Kilns. Retrieved from EcoMENA: https://www.ecomena.org/tire-burning-kilns/

Institute of Medicine of the national Academes. (2006). Noise and Military Service: Implications for Hearing Loss and Tinnitus. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. Retrieved from https://www.nap.edu/read/11443

Luz, G. A. (2010). Dtatabase for assessing the annoyance of the noise of small arms. United States Army Environmental Hygiene Agency. Retrieved from https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a239839.pdf

Merisalu, E., Vahi, M., Kinnas, S., Oja, M., Sarapuu, K., Novikov, O., . . . Orru, H. (2015). Job specific risk factors, demographic parameters and musculoskeletal disorders among military personnel depending on type of service. Argonomy Research 13(3), 775-785.

Mochly-Rosen, D. (2011, November 2). News Center: Stanford Medicine. Retrieved from Stanford Medicine: https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2011/11/continuous-dose-of-nitroglycerin-increases-severity-of-heart-attacks-study-shows.html

Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. (n.d.). Operational Guidelines for working in a Potentially Hazardous Environment. Retrieved from https://www.osce.org/secretariat/74739?download=true

Parekh, R. M. (2017, January). PTSD: American Psychiatric Association. Retrieved from American Psychiatric Association: https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/ptsd/what-is-ptsd

Veteranclaims’s Blog. (2010, July 5). Retrieved from veteranclaims.net: https://veteranclaims.net/2010/07/05/m16-m60-decibel-level-exposure-hearing-loss-tinnitus/

Workplace Health and Safety Electrical Safety Office Workers’ Compensation Regulator. (2018, July 02). Psychological Hazards. Retrieved from WorkCover Queensland: https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/laws-and-compliance/workplace-health-and-safety-laws/specific-obligations/health-safety-contact-centres/psychosocial-issues


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THE UNKNOWN PRESENTS: ‘Silkwood’ – 1974

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/448Qzy6kUax1bYQJ3CUFw67NZE4AT5sQC8tVOub_QA4azGGvzauaP3c2brZbJsiLRMicsCn9P5gJC3ug-73DcKglY-5r9fAP39gdkXwCv3rd9h19hEJBSFFQckFCEk6NUgWOJg8_

MAIN CAST

Meryl Streep                           ….                   As        Karen Silkwood

Kurt Russel                             ….                   As        Drew Stephens

Cher                                         ….                   As        Dolly Pellkier

Craig. T Nelson                     ….                    As        Winston

      “Silkwood” is based on the true-life story of Karen Silkwood portrayed by (Meryl Streep), who is employed at Kerr-McGee Plant in Cimarron, Oklahoma. The film also stars (Kurt Russel), who plays Silkwood’s long-time boyfriend Drew Stephenson, and her roommate Dolly Pellkier who is played by the infamous (Cher). The film retells the story of Silkwood as she becomes aware of the maligned and harsh working conditions at the Keer Mcghee nuclear plant; conditions that put both the life and limb of herself and her fellow employees at risk.

Throughout the film she tries to bring attention to this wrong doing (violations) that the workers face on a day to day basis. Continuing investigations to make right this folly on the part of her employer. Silkwood (Streep), soon discovers in a disastrous turn of events, that she herself has been exposed to high levels of radiation while working at the facility.

X-rays of the faulty equipment and materials as well as documentation on the lack of safety measures that caused Karen’s illness are interfered with, forcing Karen to continue with her own personal investigations. As she gathers the necessary evidence, Karen becomes a nuisance to her boyfriend and friends because of her obsession and persistence with the matter. She finally puts together enough evidence and stores it in a briefcase and is soon on her way to meet with a New York Times reporter. She however never makes it; the official documentation and autopsy on her fatal car accident stated that Ms. Silkwood had been drinking and was under the influence of tranquilizers.

Kerr-McGee, the plant at which she was employed, eventually settled the case, with the company having to pay Silkwood’s family a resounding cash settlement due to their involvement in Karen’s contamination. The full report of her accident has never been released, though it is believed to be an instance of corporate espionage, which the film alludes in the closing scenes of the movie.

CHEMICAL HAZARDS

  1. Radiation Hazard

According to Luckey T. D. (2006), most governments renounce radiation hormesis (a theoretical phenomenon which explains the relationship of dose-response in which something (as a heavy metal or ionizing radiation) that produces harmful biological effects at moderate to high doses may produce beneficial effects at low doses) as a result of fear of all radiation, thus establish laws. This concept leads to poor health, unreasonable medicine and oppressed industries. Over the years however, medical and radiation committees refuse to consider valid evidence of radiation hormesis in cancer, other diseases, and health.

On the other hand, according to Dr. Ananya Mandal, “Exposure to radiation is safe in small amounts and when it is strictly controlled during a medical exam such as an X-ray.” However, long term exposure as well as exposure to a large amount of radiation in a short time can cause damage to biological systems and can lead to electrical and fire hazards. In Silkwood, the main element in production is plutonium. Plutonium is a known cancerous and toxic element, thus, using it as part of production would be extremely unhealthy and dangerous to employees. 

It has been known that plutonium causes organ failure and cancer to humans exposed to it. When inhaled, it can cause lung cancer. At high doses, it can cause lung problems, such as fibrosis or emphysema, as well as, it can directly cause kidney and lungs to fail, according to the CDC. Intense radiation can also cause electric shock in humans and damage to electrical devices. The movie illustrates the effect that the radiation had on employees both physical and psychological.

Violation:

According to the OSH Act of Trinidad and Tobago 2004 as amended 2006, it is the duty of an employer to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of every employee. In addition, the act states that an employer must provide and maintain safe systems of work which includes all materials used for work, all procedures required to execute their work, and the plant or facility. If we were to apply these principles to Silkwood, it would be clearly noted that the company was in breach of protocols and principles.  

Recommendations:

  • Alert the public and avoid deception. Areas should have been evacuated quicker and systems should be in place to detect exposure immediately, which can reduce the level of exposure. 
  • Operations should be held in a  deserted area instead of a populated area.
  • Proper training to work and deal with unfavorable circumstances, regular reinforcement of rules and regulations to employees, as well as, repercussions. Reduce the risk as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP).

BIOLOGICAL HAZARDS

Biological hazards are organic substances that pose a threat to human health and other living organisms. These threats can come in the form of bacteria, viruses, plants, birds, insects, and humans and can be considered to include biological vectors or transmitters of disease (Safe Work Australia, 2011). 

The employees were at risk of health complications due to:

1) Lack of protective clothing and equipment:

Throughout the movie, it was clear that PPE was not considered crucial in the workplace. For instance, Silkwood is seen flashing her body part in mechanical room which placed her at a high risk of getting injured. For example, if sparks where to land on her chest resulting in burns. In addition, employees were only given breathing masks only when there is a leak. This is seen as a biological hazard since the workers could have been infected from microorganisms and bacteria through inhalation, contact with the skin, and through any cuts on their body. 

Violation:

According to OSH act of Trinidad and Tobago 2004, as amended 2006, all persons entering an area in an industrial establishment where they are likely to be exposed to the risk of head, eye, ear, hand or foot injury, injury from air contaminant or any other bodily injury, shall be provided with suitable protective clothing or devices of an approved standard and adequate instructions for the use of such protective clothing or devices, and no person shall be permitted to be in any such area unless he is wearing such protective clothing or device.

Recommendation: 

  • Employers must provide suitable protective clothing and equipment to employees of an approved standard as well as proper training and instructions on the use of it. For instance, safety goggles, steel-toed boots, safety helmets, gloves, high visibility vests, face masks and earplugs. 
  • Employees should have been provided with safety gear before entering the plant.
  • Regular checks should be done to minimize exposure to the chemicals. 
  • Regular safety drills should be incorporated to help employees be and remain prepared for such instances.

2) Trespassing quarantine zone

In a scene of the movie, Vema becomes contaminated and was rushed to the quarantine room where medical officers would deal with the issue. However, Silkwood in an attempt to comfort her friend, ignored protocol by running into the room without any PPE. She further ventured to enter the shower area and proceeded to hug her friend Velma without any PPE.  This action placed her at a high risk of becoming contaminated. 

Recommendation: 

  • Employees are to be trained to protect themselves before attending to others. 
  • Repercussions should be in place for such actions in the workplace.

PSYCHOLOGICAL HAZARDS

A psychological hazard can be defined as any hazard that affects the mental well-being or mental health of the worker by overwhelming individual coping mechanisms and impacting the worker’s ability to work in a healthy and safe manner (Batson, C. D., Fultz, J., & Schoenrade, P. A. 1987). This is a hazard everyone faces unknowingly in the workplace. In relation to the movie, employees were faced with many issues that can be considered psychological hazards. Some of these instances were listed when it was realized that employers disregard the need for subordinates safety, workers were required to stand for long hours doing one job which meant a lot of repetitive movement which can further make the job monotonous, not to mention being ignored by officials.

In addition, employers manipulated their employees by deceiving them in terms of their health, safety and overall welfare within the organization as employees had no rights and attempts to create a union were proving to be futile. Additionally, the stigma placed on contaminated employees made them isolate themselves, some became hopeless and some could not come to terms with the situation. He/ she has constant inner conflicts and other problems arising from this. One major effect of falling privy to psychological hazards is that the person affected becomes demotivated and hence, their work performance and efficiency is affected. 

Recommendation:

  • It is recommended that in order to combat this problem, employees should have regular seminars geared towards resolving this issue. 
  • Counseling for those employees who have become contaminated, as well as, family members. 
  • Regular safety checks to reduce the probability of persons becoming contaminated.

PHYSICAL HAZARDS

1) Smoking Hazard

In the movie, most employees are smokers. It has been seen that employees smoke every chance they get and even in areas that smoking should be prohibited. For instance, smoking in the lunchroom which is an enclosed making the air contaminated for any employee that may be suffering from asthma and so forth. It was also noted that Silkwood smoked around her children and exposing them to second hand smoke which is known as being extremely unhealthy, especially for children. The amount of cigarettes they are seen smoking is harmful alone. 

Violation: 

The OSH Act of Trinidad and Tobago 2004 as amended 2006 states that an Employer must provide information, instructions, training, and supervision to ensure the safety and Health of all employees.

Recommendation: 

  • Implement or reinforce smoking prohibitions in the establishment.
  • Provide a smoking area for smokers
  • Implement repercussions for broken rules for instance, paying a fee if caught or termination of contracts.

2) Slips, Trips and falls Hazards

Horse play is seen as a common act shared by all employees. This is a major hazard as they put themselves and others at risk of being hurt. Employees are seen wild playing around machinery which can lead to them tripping and subsequently falling and injury themselves. In addition, for an employee’s birthday, they had cake and gifts in the production room. This can result in numerous hazards, such as spills on the floor, contamination of the food or gifts, damaging machinery in the event that the cake falls on the machine and so forth. 

Recommendation: 

  • Prohibition of wild playing, eating and drinking while in the production room or around machinery.
  • Place signs to indicate tripping hazards.

ERGONOMIC HAZARDS

The Austrailian Government Comcare established that ergonomic hazards are physical factors found in the environment that harm one’s musculoskeletal system. Some ergonomic hazards can include, repetitive movement, manual handling, workplace/job task /design, uncomfortable workstation height as well as poor body positioning, just to name a few. 

In the movie, the ergonomic hazards that caught the most attention were, standing for long periods of time, due to working extra shifts, along with having employees work in confined spaces. The machinery and equipments, as well as, general working spaces can be considered clustered into small, inefficient spaces. These are considered critical hazards as the efficiency, performance, safety and general comfort of workers are impeded upon.

Recommendation:

  • Allow ample amount of ‘rest-time’ for employees working double shifts. 
  • Design and Provide a comfortable break room for employees.
  • When working double shifts, supply employees with adequate and relevant work materials, such as ergonomic chairs, to eliminate side effects of standing for extended periods of time.
  • Design machinery rooms with sufficient space to comfortably accommodate all procedures and personnel (operators).
  • Build and provide workstations to ‘fit the worker’, not fit the worker to workstations. 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • https://www.comcare.gov.au/preventing/hazards/ergonomic_hazards
  • Batson, C. D., Fultz, J., & Schoenrade, P. A. (1987). Distress and Empathy: Two Qualitatively Distinct Vicarious Emotions with Different Motivational Consequences. Journal of Personality, 55(1), 19-39. doi:10.1111/j.1467-6494.1987.tb00426.x
  • Luckey, T. D. (2006). Radiation Hormesis: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Dose-Response, 4(3), dose-response.0. doi:10.2203/dose-response.06-102.luckey
  • https://www.cdc.gov/


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The Rig from Hell

A Tragedy that should have never Occurred

A major example of occupational failures to learn from is that of the Deepwater Horizon; also known as the worst oil spill in history. Deepwater Horizon was one of British Petroleum (BP) greatest profitable oil rigs located in the Gulf of Mexico. The devastating accident occurred on the 20th of  April, 2010 and caused the rig to sink to the bottom of the ocean, like Atlantis did. Many investigators and researchers continue to ask: What happened on April 20th, 2010? Well, to finally put the question to rest, let’s discuss the movie Deepwater Horizon which so happen to be based on a true story. 

It was a regular day for the workers at Deepwater Horizon, minus the superstitious warning signs from God. There were 126 workers based on the structure of which 11 died. The main characters featured were Mike, the Chief Electronics Technician and Jimmy, the Offshore Installation Manager. Upon arriving on the Deepwater Horizon rig, Mike and Mr. Jimmy were greeted by the departure of the Schlumberger team. The team comprised of trained contractors and hired by BP for the purpose of testing of cement needed to ensure the stability of the drill pipe used. You would agree that  only a fool wouldn’t understand the importance of such a job? At this point in the movie Mr. Jimmy and Mike expressed confusion, along with their viewers. As Mr. Jimmy began to make his checks, doubt sets in and he also begins to  question the departure of the Schlumberger team.               

Upon Mr. Jimmy’s investigation it was found that pompous and arrogant BP executives (the big dogs with no brain) namely one Mr. Donald Vidrine (a well site leader) were visiting the rig and instructed them to leave. His crew’s reason for visiting the offshore oil rig was mainly to rectify the forty-three (43) days delay for extracting oil. While their real intention behind the sending home of the Schlumberger team, was to cut cost. BP officials egos and know it all attitude, resulted in them deciding to bypass all necessary operations to achieve a profitable objective. Despite there being innumerable warnings from rig crew members and boss, Mr. Jimmy about the importance of the highly relevant safety issues which needed to be addressed, they still pressed onward. Mind you; for a broken rig with 390 maintenance problems, they somehow managed to achieve an award for seven (7) years of exceptional health and safety practices. 

To ensure that drilling occurred without the cement test being done by Mr. Jimmy, Donald debated on having a pressure test conducted instead. The pressure test was indeed carried out to determine whether the pipe structure is strong enough to withstand the pressure produced by the oil and gas.  According to Jason (in the movie), a “good rig practice” exist when both gauges used in a test, measurements read at zero (0). Whereas, on the 20th April, 2010 when the test was done, both gave gauges reads varied from one another. The gauge for the drill line in particular read at 1395, to which Mr. Donald attempted to explain away, by the use of a theory he called the “Bladder effect.” However, this should have been referred to as the “Toilet Bowl Theory”. 

He then instructed Jason to run the test on the kill line, which gave a reading of zero (0). After seeing such results, he then instructed Jason to proceed with the drilling. Uncertain about the findings, Jason righteously called Mr. Jimmy for consultation. Strangely enough, it just so happened that Mr. Jimmy was receiving an award for the rig being without incident for an extended period of time (Oh the irony), to which Mr. Donald quipped about them being as  nervous as cats. Mr. Jimmy began feeling the mounting pressure and reluctantly gave the all clear for the running of pipe operations. When the drilling began, it appeared to be smooth sailing at first but then all of a sudden a series of unfortunate events began. Oil started flowing upwards as a result of the pressure and broke through the safeguards in place, leaving employees powerless against trying to stop it. Chaos ensued resulting in numerous explosions onboard the rig and had to be evacuated. Mike started searching for Mr. Jimmy, who in found with lacerations to the face due to shrapnel. Unfortunately, there were not many emergency vessels and last boats filled up quickly with survivors trying to make it to safety. Mike and Mr. Jimmy were seen staring at Mr. Donald with a multitude of emotions, like such:

After the last lifeboat left, the remaining workers all attempted to get on an inflatable raft but failed due to the suspension straps snapping. This rendered Mike and Andrea stranded on the rig. Desperate but not hopeless, Mike suggested that they proceed to a higher vantage point to avoid impending fire. Having reached the top Mike they had to jump in order to survive, to which Andrea started having an anxiety attack and pushed him away. He then replies by catching her off guard and flinging her to her safety before jumping himself. Thankfully, a lifeboat returned to rescue them and brought them to a nearby ship, where an employee checklist was being done. The movie ends is bittersweet with families uniting, the effects of PTSD and Mike’s collapsing due to survivor’s guilt, brought on after being jostled by a grieving father. The Deepwater Horizon tragedy paved the way for improvement in safety standards, controls and some of the guidelines we use today.

HAZARDS ON THE DEEPWATER HORIZON

PHYSICAL HAZARDS

Just imagine working in an environment, having seven years of exceptional health and safety practices and for all of it to disappear in a few hours. The physical hazards viewed in Deepwater Horizon can truly make a person question ever applying for an oil rig job. The misjudgment of unqualified personnel resulted in a major rig blow out and the loss of valuable lives. A physical hazard can be defined as a factor within the environment which can harm the body without necessarily touching it; for example, vibrations and noise. One of the physical hazards seen in the movie occurred when high pressure in the pipeline caused the rapid exploding of mud, with no means of controlling it. This in turn resulted in the rig surface area becoming an on the job “slip and slide” or in hazardous terms a “slip and fall”. Persons lost their balance effortlessly, with mud showering down and covering everywhere. I would love to mention that good housekeeping practices would have fixed that hazard, but there aren’t big enough mops. 

Image of mud and oil creating a slippery surface

It was determined that the only way to stop the “slip and slide,” experienced was to close the pipes that were extracting the mud. But…“Wait!!!! That was done, it didn’t work”. Well a second option would have been to sound the alarm systems, which would have alerted personnel of the danger. Yet again, this method also failed because…. “Oh yea, the alarm systems were not working.” At this point (in the movie), viewers became heavy hearted with disappointment as not a single alarm system sounded to notify the rest of the rig. 

The mud continued to explode as high as the sky, along with scattered debris affecting multiple levels within the structure and thereby posed as a physical hazard of its own. Even Jimmy who was taking a shower, was not prepared for the blast that penetrated through the enclosed room. 

Image of mud explosion on the Deepwater Horizon
Mud Butt Shit GIF - MudButt Shit Explosion GIFs

The impact of the debris when they hit the control room glass was like missiles firing at a fixed target. Any hope of being safe in the control room was lost, the moment the first of the debris slammed against the glass. According to Mike Williams (in the movie) “hope ain’t a tactic” because the control room had a one way in and one way out, which was through the exact same doorway. “How that making sense BP?”. 

The third physical hazard was seen through the use of  hard-hats by workers on the rig to protect them from impact caused by other objects. The pressure from the explosion had persons flying across the room, detaching their hard hat from their heads. Michael’s hat slipped off during the commotion which resulted in him sustaining injuries to the head from flying debris. 

This could have been mitigated if the hat was properly fastened, providing it being the correct size and proper design causing it to not fall off easily. However, we must make mention of the one excellent safety practice, as most kept their safety ear plugs on, although in that situation who wouldn’t prefer to be deaf home, slipping tea than dead. 

CHEMICAL HAZARDS

A chemical hazard is a type of occupational hazard caused by exposure to chemicals in the workplace which can cause physical and/or acute or long-term detrimental health effects. Chemicals can change their physical state depending on temperature or pressure. Thus it is important to identify the health risks as these states and determine the potential route which the chemical would take. For example, gas state chemicals will be inhaled or liquid state chemicals can be absorbed by the skin.

Exposure to crude oil occurs via inhalation, ingestion (of liquid droplets in the air), and direct skin contact. Breathing the fumes from crude oil are known to cause chemical pneumonia, irritation of the nose, throat, and lungs, headache, dizziness, drowsiness, loss of coordination, fatigue, nausea, and laboured breathing.

Unfortunately, the crew on the Deepwater Horizon were vulnerable to both the inhalation of toxic gas and also to oil absorption,through their skin. The picture below shows the result of the burning oil and gas on the rig after the explosion. The first set of smoke from the rig wasn’t enough to harm to everyone and everything, but oil burnt out from the ocean continued to form smoke and fires, making the situation deadly.

Image illustrating the thick smoke emanating from Deepwater Horizon

Things were so hectic and out of control that no one had time to think about grabbing any face masks in order to  limit the inhalation of the toxic smoke. Most of the crew were either in panic mood or busy trying to save their colleagues. 

In the early part of the movie it was seen that proper PPE was not worn by all of the crew members. They would have therefore been at a higher risk for the absorption of toxic oil into the skin. The image below shows two workers who were not wearing adequate PPE.

Image illustrating lack off PPE

The crew on the rig were not the only ones whose lives were put at risk by the explosion. Both people and aqua marine life were affected miles away from the explosion. This was a result of the 210 million gallons of oil that were split into the ocean, the fire that engulfed the ocean and also the smoke that was carried by the wind.

At this point it makes you wonder, what could have been done to mitigate the Deepwater Horizon chemical hazards? Based on the hierarchy of controls, the gases could not have been eliminated as there was a need for it. The gases could not have been substituted, as there was nothing to replace it with. The gases were isolated, as they were confined in gas pipes. The gases were engineered as they were designed away from employees and managed with valves. The gases were administratively controlled as appropriate signs were placed. Therefore, it all leads down to the last option; appropriate PPE to be implemented. By implementing policies and guidelines on ensuring all employees where correct PPE, it would have limited the amount of exposure of the skin to the gas and crude oil.  

BIOLOGICAL HAZARDS

Biological hazards are caused by pathogens such as bacteria, viruses and fungi. Oil rigs provide optimal conditions for these species to multiply, in damp and warm areas. Developing a safety culture takes time, it starts at home and should be practiced regularly. Before Michael got on the helicopter to the rig, he and his wife went to the gas station to put fuel in their vehicle. While this was occurring he observed her using hand sanitizer and told her to give him, “some of that.” Gas stations are often very dirty places and hand sanitizers can help to eliminate some germs. It is therefore a preventative measure against some types of biological hazards. BP management should have set the bar high for safety and demonstrate this by leading with a good example of such. Unfortunately, they prioritized profit over safety which lead to the Deepwater Horizon tragedy. 

Some of the Deepwater Horizon’s enclosed rooms lacked air-conditioning due to the compressors being down. The lack of circulation can cause the growth of mold in areas which are moist. While the reduction in oxygen can make individuals feel drowsy and in some cases experience hypoxia, if not careful. Feelings of discomfort can therefore affect productivity level of meetings negatively. In the picture below Vadrine is seen having a large sweat mark, in the armpit area of his shirt and attempted to make himself comfortable by putting his hands on his head, in order to allow the airing of his pit which may have had an unpleasant odor (just saying).

After Michael listed some of the mission critical equipment that were down for the BP management, a remark was made from someone else stating, “everything but the toilets, huh?” To which he replied, “No, you got problems there too, but I do not do shitters, that is engineering.” Uncleanly toilet conditions are inhumane and are conducive to the growth of germs. Some type of germs that thrive in such an environment include E. Coli which can cause bloody diarrhea, shigella bacteria which is infectious and influenza. These can all cause staff members to become ill, which is anti-productive. It is therefore important that individuals practice proper hygiene and toilets be repaired.

ERGONOMIC HAZARDS

It should be the responsibility of every employer and employee to take care of their body as it is the only place they have to live. Happy employees create high performance and profitability, so therefore, it is essential for individuals to have ergonomically designed furniture and tools. When the working conditions of equipment and furniture have limited capabilities they can cause pain, which is known as Ergonomic hazards. Examples of these ergonomic hazards include improper body positioning, manual handling and substandard working conditions. To eliminate the factors which cause pain, employers can apply engineering to suit an employee needs. In deepwater horizon, the employees work stations were substandard. There were 390 machines relative to proper working standards that were inoperational and required members to expend extra energy to complete simple tasks. The crew was simply not equipped to run and operate at all, despite their knowledge of these problems but were instead forced to work.

Imagine trying to have a conversation in the kitchen when the blender is in use. 

It could be difficult since words would not be heard clearly, causing critical information to be lost or misinterpreted. Similarly, when the main actors Jimmy and Michael were inquiring as to why the Schlumberger team was leaving early, they were unable to decipher the reason. This was due to them communicating on the helipad under the loud rotor of a Bristow helicopter, in rushed manner. While the noise protection plugs worn were appropriate for cancelling out some of the noise from the rotor, it was ergonomically ill-suited for communication since it prevented them from hearing each other. 

Jimmy: You guys are already done?

Schlumberger Personnel: I do not know what to tell you Mr. Jimmy.

Jimmy: Hey Skip

Skip: Yes Sir.

Jimmy: Logging in team is leaving?

Skip: Yeah. Schlumberger is leaving. They are gone.

Jimmy: Briefing said that they are supposed to be testing that cement down there. Is it already finished? 

Michael: “What is he saying?”

Jimmy: “I cannot hear him.”

The exchange of information, left Jimmy and his crew in a state of confusion, with more questions than answers. They were uncertain as to whether or not the cement test had been conducted. This placed them at a disadvantage at the time since they could not make necessary decisions. One such decision, that could have been made was the stopping of the Schlumberger team from leaving the rig  without conducting the cement test, which was crucial to safe operations. Unfortunately, it was left undone and can be considered one of the key elements which resulted in the Deepwater Horizon tragedy which resulted in pain, suffering and the deaths of eleven individuals. It is therefore important that communication, be carried out in an environment not directly affected by noise which is an ergonomic risk.

Repetitive movements such as bending and extending to reach for an object over a table or workstation can cause lower back injury and stress in the shoulders. While standing for a prolonged period of time can also have a negative effect on the circulation of blood in the legs. It is best to use tables with adjustable height and have a short width, so that overexertion does not occur. Appropriate, seating can also help in easing tension off joints. Training and education can help staff to identify early warning signs and engage in exercise.

When Jimmy attempted to call downstairs via phone, to find out some pertinent information he was displeased to discover that the, “phone still don’t work.” This indicated that the problem preexisted for some time before and like many others, was not resolved in a timely manner. Mike also came across an issue when he found the smoke alarm was continuously beeping and took action by removing it from the ceiling. While this temporarily resolved the issue of the noise, it did may not help the fact that the equipment needed to be fixed and turned. Unfortunately this did not occur and may have been one of the reasons why alarms did not go off, in time of emergency.

When machinery is broken or malfunctions, it is essential that this be communicated to others on board the rig. This can be done through the use of tags, notifications through monitors, phones and other forms of signage. The company must employ a proactive approach as part of their business strategy. By doing repairs, this would let staff to carry out work more effectively. Allowing things to go undone this can lead to a chain of unfortunate events which can injury and even death.

PSYCHOLOGICAL HAZARDS

When defining a hazard, a layperson may only speak about things which cause physical harm, a football fan might say Eden and Thorgan, but what is often forgotten is psychological hazards. There were several psychological hazards present in Deepwater Horizon. Firstly, there was the stress caused by having to perform while BP executives were present. This can be referred to as, “The Big Stick Mentality,” which is a slang term used in Trinidad. It simply means people can’t perform unless there is an authority figure breathing down their necks. Maybe they find it exciting but other persons may not as it can be extremely stressful. However, the opposite of this can also be stressful where there is a lack of authority during major situations. It’s like looking to your boss for guidance during a disaster to see him driving off without helping (“Pressure in d camp oui”).
Psychological hazards can occur even after the job with Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) being a serious psychological illness which can lead to other problems such as paranoia. Anxiety is debilitating illness which can affect some people for an entire lifetime if not taken care of. In the movie Andrea is seen as having anxiety and it is then aggravated by being pressured to jump by Mike. This is a serious psychological hazard which is then made worse when he pushes her albeit for her own safety into the water. Thank god for Mike, because any other person would have jumped and left Andrea on her own.

GIF showing Mike pushing Andrea off the rig

In order to have mitigated psychological hazards on the Deepwater Horizon, regular drills should have been practices to know how to treat with fire, explosions and any other situation. By doing the drills persons would have been a little more prepared during an emergency. Additionally, upon gaining employment persons should have undergone psychological evaluations and continued it annually to determine how they work under stress. Such evaluation could have prevented the blow out by Mr. Jimmy and Jason standing their ground and not feeling pressured as Donald demanded to begin extracting mud. 

ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARD 

GIF of Pelican covered in mud from the explosion at Deepwater Horizon

 In watching Deepwater Horizon, the first effects of environmental hazard, was when the pelican bird flew into the neighbouring ship  desperately attempting survival by trying to escape using its instinctive means of flying. The contamination of the oil on the bird was displayed when it began to beat up its wings trying to flee the area. Hence, it flew into the ship until it met its demise and died. To help describe what that scene inferred, we must understand what is environmental hazard. According to GEMET (General Multilingual Environmental Thesaurus), environmental hazard is  “a physical, biological or chemical agent capable of causing harm to the ecosystem or natural resources.” It was one thing to see the damage done to the rig and human life, however, ecosystems has been deeply compromised of their natural habitat due to that blow out, all in the name of making money. Considering the movie was an enactment of the actual situation that took place, the told and untold damages would have been amounted to millions. Even after  the 87 days it took to control the fire, the consequences would have been tremendous. The plants and animals that were contaminated would have been food for other species causing an interruption in the food chain. These environmental hazards in the Gulf of Mexico would have affected the aquatic habitat and the livelihood of persons living and working in the arena. Therefore, to mitigate environmental hazards the use of the three (3) E’s that is education, engineering and enforcement should have been applied. 

ENGINEERING: Rigs should be built with a mandatory pipeline that is separate from the existing drill pipe and kill pipe in order to transport any excess environmentally hazardous substances such as the fossil fuel oil, gas and or the mud used to extract the lucrative substances to a temporary storage tank. This pipeline should be used as a plan C emergency option where those substances can be stored so that it can minimize the hazards at any given emergency situation where the commodity can affect the environment.

EDUCATION: Rigs should have a daily educational policy to follow  before, during and after procedures and that should be understood by both managers and engineers operating on rigs. Therefore, if a cement test is to be done every day at 6:00 am that policy should not be compromised every 6:00 am , managers nor Engineers should  not deviate from that policy as it is an important OSH policy in order to prevent oil, gases and mud from affecting the environment. Also as part of the drill having a plan A, B, and C for cases where if A do not work then B , then C.

ENFORCEMENT: Administration should put signs and plan the type of drills that should be carried out in order to enforce the policy and where updates to policy changes make sure all employees are aware of the new policy.

OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Properly detailed safety information should have been posted all over the rig and also persons should have been trained to know where to go in case of life threatening emergencies.  
  • More safety equipment such as lifeboats and life jackets were needed. 
  • Interpersonal forms of communication were needed. Having these on the rig would have allowed persons in their offices and bunks to know what was happening outside and this may have allowed them to evacuate sooner than they did.  
  • Regular maintenance of equipment such as alarms and telephones could have possibly save lives and cause less injury to be done to the crew on the rig. 
  • More authority should have been given to other qualified workers to take decisions that can save lives, especially in times of crises. A simple thing as pressing a button should be delegated to more than a handful of people in the event that they all just so happen to die.  
  • Management should not be able to overrule the head of operations in matters that are literally life or death. 
  • All staff needed to be educated on all potential hazards and trained to operate in life and death situations.

REFERENCES 

Chemical hazard. (n.d.). Retrieved June 24, 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemical_hazard 

Eley, T. (2010, May 14). What caused the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon? Retrieved June 24, 2019, from https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2010/05/spil-m14.html 

Goldstein, P., Dr. (n.d.). Effects of Crude Oil Exposure to Children, Adults, and Pregnant Mothers. Retrieved from http://www.amfs.com/resources/articles-from-our-experts/effects-of-crude-oil-exposure/ 

Kuhl, M. (2016, October 02). New ‘Deepwater Horizon’ Photos Featuring Dylan O’Brien, Mark Wahlberg & More. Retrieved from https://www.hollywoodnewssource.com/new-deepwater-horizon-photos-featuring-dylan-obrien-mark-wahlberg-more/ 


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The Rig from Hell

The Rig from Hell  

A Tragedy that should have never Occurred

A major example of occupational failures to learn from is that of the Deepwater Horizon; also known as the worst oil spill in history. Deepwater Horizon was one of British Petroleum (BP) greatest profitable oil rigs located in the Gulf of Mexico. The devastating accident occurred on the 20th of April, 2010 and caused the rig to sink to the bottom of the ocean, like Atlantis did. Many investigators and researchers continue to ask: What happened on April 20th, 2010? Well, to finally put the question to rest, let’s discuss the movie Deepwater Horizon which so happen to be based on a true story.

It was a regular day for the workers at Deepwater Horizon, minus the superstitious warning signs from God. There were 126 workers based on the structure of which 11 died. The main characters featured were Mike, the Chief Electronics Technician and Jimmy, the Offshore Installation Manager. Upon arriving on the Deepwater Horizon rig, Mike and Mr. Jimmy were greeted by the departure of the Schlumberger team. The team comprised of trained contractors and hired by BP for the purpose of testing of cement needed to ensure the stability of the drill pipe used. You would agree that only a fool wouldn’t understand the importance of such a job? At this point in the movie Mr. Jimmy and Mike expressed confusion, along with their viewers. As Mr. Jimmy began to make his checks, doubt sets in and he also begins to question the departure of the Schlumberger team.              

Upon Mr. Jimmy’s investigation it was found that pompous and arrogant BP executives (the big dogs with no brain) namely one Mr. Donald Vidrine (a well site leader) were visiting the rig and instructed them to leave. His crew’s reason for visiting the offshore oil rig was mainly to rectify the forty-three (43) days delay for extracting oil. While their real intention behind the sending home of the Schlumberger team, was to cut cost. BP officials egos and know it all attitude, resulted in them deciding to bypass all necessary operations to achieve a profitable objective. Despite there being innumerable warnings from rig crew members and boss, Mr. Jimmy about the importance of the highly relevant safety issues which needed to be addressed, they still pressed onward. Mind you; for a broken rig with 390 maintenance problems, they somehow managed to achieve an award for seven (7) years of exceptional health and safety practices.

To ensure that drilling occurred without the cement test being done by Mr. Jimmy, Donald debated on having a pressure test conducted instead. The pressure test was indeed carried out to determine whether the pipe structure is strong enough to withstand the pressure produced by the oil and gas.  According to Jason (in the movie), a “good rig practice” exist when both gauges used in a test, measurements read at zero (0). Whereas, on the 20th April, 2010 when the test was done, both gave gauges reads varied from one another. The gauge for the drill line in particular read at 1395, to which Mr. Donald attempted to explain away, by the use of a theory he called the “Bladder effect.” However, this should have been referred to as the “Toilet Bowl Theory”.

He then instructed Jason to run the test on the kill line, which gave a reading of zero (0). After seeing such results, he then instructed Jason to proceed with the drilling. Uncertain about the findings, Jason righteously called Mr. Jimmy for consultation. Strangely enough, it just so happened that Mr. Jimmy was receiving an award for the rig being without incident for an extended period of time (Oh the irony), to which Mr. Donald quipped about them being as  nervous as cats. Mr. Jimmy began feeling the mounting pressure and reluctantly gave the all clear for the running of pipe operations. When the drilling began, it appeared to be smooth sailing at first but then all of a sudden a series of unfortunate events began. Oil started flowing upwards as a result of the pressure and broke through the safeguards in place, leaving employees powerless against trying to stop it. Chaos ensued resulting in numerous explosions onboard the rig and had to be evacuated. Mike started searching for Mr. Jimmy, who in found with lacerations to the face due to shrapnel. Unfortunately, there were not many emergency vessels and last boats filled up quickly with survivors trying to make it to safety. Mike and Mr. Jimmy were seen staring at Mr. Donald with a multitude of emotions, like such:

After the last lifeboat left, the remaining workers all attempted to get on an inflatable raft but failed due to the suspension straps snapping. This rendered Mike and Andrea stranded on the rig. Desperate but not hopeless, Mike suggested that they proceed to a higher vantage point to avoid impending fire. Having reached the top Mike they had to jump in order to survive, to which Andrea started having an anxiety attack and pushed him away. He then replies by catching her off guard and flinging her to her safety before jumping himself. Thankfully, a lifeboat returned to rescue them and brought them to a nearby ship, where an employee checklist was being done. The movie ends is bittersweet with families uniting, the effects of PTSD and Mike’s collapsing due to survivor’s guilt, brought on after being jostled by a grieving father. The Deepwater Horizon tragedy paved the way for improvement in safety standards, controls and some of the guidelines we use today.

HAZARDS ON THE DEEPWATER HORIZON

PHYSICAL HAZARDS

Just imagine working in an environment, having seven years of exceptional health and safety practices and for all of it to disappear in a few hours. The physical hazards viewed in Deepwater Horizon can truly make a person question ever applying for an oil rig job. The misjudgment of unqualified personnel resulted in a major rig blow out and the loss of valuable lives. A physical hazard can be defined as a factor within the environment which can harm the body without necessarily touching it; for example, vibrations and noise. One of the physical hazards seen in the movie occurred when high pressure in the pipeline caused the rapid exploding of mud, with no means of controlling it. This in turn resulted in the rig surface area becoming an on the job “slip and slide” or in hazardous terms a “slip and fall”. Persons lost their balance effortlessly, with mud showering down and covering everywhere. I would love to mention that good housekeeping practices would have fixed that hazard, but there aren’t big enough mops.

Image of mud and oil creating a slippery surface (on the left)

It was determined that the only way to stop the “slip and slide,” experienced was to close the pipes that were extracting the mud. But…“Wait!!!! That was done, it didn’t work”. Well a second option would have been to sound the alarm systems, which would have alerted personnel of the danger. Yet again, this method also failed because…. “Oh yea, the alarm systems were not working.” At this point (in the movie), viewers became heavy hearted with disappointment as not a single alarm system sounded to notify the rest of the rig.

The mud continued to explode as high as the sky, along with scattered debris affecting multiple levels within the structure and thereby posed as a physical hazard of its own. Even Jimmy who was taking a shower, was not prepared for the blast that penetrated through the enclosed room.

Mud Butt Shit GIF - MudButt Shit Explosion GIFs

Image of mud explosion on the Deepwater Horizon

The impact of the debris when they hit the control room glass was like missiles firing at a fixed target. Any hope of being safe in the control room was lost, the moment the first of the debris slammed against the glass. According to Mike Williams (in the movie) “hope ain’t a tactic” because the control room had a one way in and one way out, which was through the exact same doorway. “How that making sense BP?”

The third physical hazard was seen through the use of hard-hats by workers on the rig to protect them from impact caused by other objects. The pressure from the explosion had persons flying across the room, detaching their hard hat from their heads. Michael’s hat slipped off during the commotion which resulted in him sustaining injuries to the head from flying debris.

This could have been mitigated if the hat was properly fastened, providing it being the correct size and proper design causing it to not fall off easily. However, we must make mention of the one excellent safety practice, as most kept their safety ear plugs on, although in that situation who wouldn’t prefer to be deaf home, slipping tea than dead.

CHEMICAL HAZARDS

        Today, chemicals are a fact of life whether you like it or not. Many people respect its form as it can do some terrible damage to humans and the environment causing chemical hazards. A chemical hazard is a type of occupational hazard caused by exposure to chemicals in the workplace which can cause physical and/or acute or long-term detrimental health effects. Chemicals can change their physical state depending on temperature or pressure. Thus it is important to identify the health risks as these states and determine the potential route which the chemical would take. For example, gas state chemicals will be inhaled or liquid state chemicals can be absorbed by the skin.

Exposure to crude oil occurs via inhalation, ingestion (of liquid droplets in the air), and direct skin contact. Breathing the fumes from crude oil are known to cause chemical pneumonia, irritation of the nose, throat, and lungs, headache, dizziness, drowsiness, loss of coordination, fatigue, nausea, and laboured breathing.

Unfortunately, the crew on the Deepwater Horizon were vulnerable to both the inhalation of toxic gas and also to oil absorption through their skin. The picture below shows the result of the burning oil and gas on the rig after the explosion. The first set of smoke from the rig wasn’t enough to harm to everyone and everything, but oil burnt out from the ocean continued to form smoke and fires, making the situation deadly.

Image illustrating the thick smoke emanating from Deepwater Horizon

Things were so hectic and out of control that no one had time to think about grabbing any face masks in order to limit the inhalation of the toxic smoke. Most of the crew were either in panic mood or busy trying to save their colleagues.

In the early part of the movie it was seen that proper PPE was not worn by all of the crew members. They would have therefore been at a higher risk for the absorption of toxic oil into the skin. The image below shows two workers who were not wearing adequate PPE.

Image illustrating lack off PPE

The crew on the rig were not the only ones whose lives were put at risk by the explosion. Both people and aqua marine life were affected miles away from the explosion. This was a result of the 210 million gallons of oil that were split into the ocean, the fire that engulfed the ocean and also the smoke that was carried by the wind.

At this point it makes you wonder, what could have been done to mitigate the Deepwater Horizon chemical hazards? Based on the hierarchy of controls, the gases could not have been eliminated as there was a need for it. The gases could not have been substituted, as there was nothing to replace it with. The gases were isolated, as they were confined in gas pipes. The gases were engineered as they were designed away from employees and managed with valves. The gases were administratively controlled as appropriate signs were placed. Therefore, it all leads down to the last option; appropriate PPE to be implemented. By implementing policies and guidelines on ensuring all employees where correct PPE, it would have limited the amount of exposure of the skin to the gas and crude oil. 

BIOLOGICAL HAZARDS

Biological hazards are caused by pathogens such as bacteria, viruses and fungi. Oil rigs provide optimal conditions for these species to multiply, in damp and warm areas. Developing a safety culture takes time, it starts at home and should be practiced regularly. Before Michael got on the helicopter to the rig, he and his wife went to the gas station to put fuel in their vehicle. While this was occurring he observed her using hand sanitizer and told her to give him, “some of that.” Gas stations are often very dirty places and hand sanitizers can help to eliminate some germs. It is therefore a preventative measure against some types of biological hazards. BP management should have set the bar high for safety and demonstrate this by leading with a good example of such. Unfortunately, they prioritized profit over safety which lead to the Deepwater Horizon tragedy.

Some of the Deepwater Horizon’s enclosed rooms lacked air-conditioning due to the compressors being down. The lack of circulation can cause the growth of mold in areas which are moist. While the reduction in oxygen can make individuals feel drowsy and in some cases experience hypoxia, if not careful. Feelings of discomfort can therefore affect productivity level of meetings negatively. In the picture below Vadrine is seen having a large sweat mark, in the armpit area of his shirt and attempted to make himself comfortable by putting his hands on his head, in order to allow the airing of his pit which may have had an unpleasant odor (just saying).

After Michael listed some of the mission critical equipment that were down for the BP management, a remark was made from someone else stating, “everything but the toilets, huh?” To which he replied, “No, you got problems there too, but I do not do shitters, that is engineering.” Uncleanly toilet conditions are inhumane and are conducive to the growth of germs. Some type of germs that thrive in such an environment include E. Coli which can cause bloody diarrhea, shigella bacteria which is infectious and influenza. These can all cause staff members to become ill, which is anti-productive. It is therefore important that individuals practice proper hygiene and toilets be repaired.

RDJ Love GIF - RDJ Love Diarrhea GIFs

ERGONOMIC HAZARDS

It should be the responsibility of every employer and employee to take care of their body as it is the only place they have to live. Happy employees create high performance and profitability, so therefore, it is essential for individuals to have ergonomically designed furniture and tools. When the working conditions of equipment and furniture have limited capabilities they can cause pain, which is known as Ergonomic hazards. Examples of these ergonomic hazards include improper body positioning, manual handling and substandard working conditions. To eliminate the factors which cause pain, employers can apply engineering to suit an employee needs. In Deepwater Horizon, the employees work stations were substandard. There were 390 machines relative to proper working standards that were inoperational and required members to expend extra energy to complete simple tasks. The crew was simply not equipped to run and operate at all, despite their knowledge of these problems but were instead forced to work.

Imagine trying to have a conversation in the kitchen when the blender is in use.

It could be difficult since words would not be heard clearly, causing critical information to be lost or misinterpreted. Similarly, when the main actors Jimmy and Michael were inquiring as to why the Schlumberger team was leaving early, they were unable to decipher the reason. This was due to them communicating on the helipad under the loud rotor of a Bristow helicopter, in rushed manner. While the noise protection plugs worn were appropriate for cancelling out some of the noise from the rotor, it was ergonomically ill-suited for communication since it prevented them from hearing each other.

Jimmy: You guys are already done?

Schlumberger Personnel: I do not know what to tell you Mr. Jimmy.

Jimmy: Hey Skip.

Skip: Yes Sir.

Jimmy: Logging in team is leaving?

Skip: Yeah. Schlumberger is leaving. They are gone.

Jimmy: Briefing said that they are supposed to be testing that cement down there. Is it already finished?

Michael: “What is he saying?”

Jimmy: “I cannot hear him.”

The exchange of information, left Jimmy and his crew in a state of confusion, with more questions than answers. They were uncertain as to whether or not the cement test had been conducted. This placed them at a disadvantage at the time since they could not make necessary decisions. One such decision that could have been made was the stopping of the Schlumberger team from leaving the rig without conducting the cement test, which was crucial to safe operations. Unfortunately, it was left undone and can be considered one of the key elements which resulted in the Deepwater Horizon tragedy which resulted in pain, suffering and the deaths of eleven individuals. It is therefore important that communication, be carried out in an environment not directly affected by noise which is an ergonomic risk.

Repetitive movements such as bending and extending to reach for an object over a table or workstation can cause lower back injury and stress in the shoulders. While standing for a prolonged period of time can also have a negative effect on the circulation of blood in the legs. It is best to use tables with adjustable height and have a short width, so that overexertion does not occur. Appropriate, seating can also help in easing tension off joints. Training and education can help staff to identify early warning signs and engage in exercise.

When Jimmy attempted to call downstairs via phone, to find out some pertinent information he was displeased to discover that the, “phone still don’t work.” This indicated that the problem preexisted for some time before and like many others, was not resolved in a timely manner. Mike also came across an issue when he found the smoke alarm was continuously beeping and took action by removing it from the ceiling. While this temporarily resolved the issue of the noise, it did may not help the fact that the equipment needed to be fixed and turned. Unfortunately this did not occur and may have been one of the reasons why alarms did not go off, in time of emergency.

When machinery is broken or malfunctions, it is essential that this be communicated to others on board the rig. This can be done through the use of tags, notifications through monitors, phones and other forms of signage. The company must employ a proactive approach as part of their business strategy. By doing repairs, this would let staff to carry out work more effectively. Allowing things to go undone this can lead to a chain of unfortunate events which can injury and even death.

PSYCHOLOGICAL HAZARDS

When defining a hazard, a layperson may only speak about things which cause physical harm, a football fan might say Eden and Thorgan, but what is often forgotten is psychological hazards. There were several psychological hazards present in Deepwater Horizon. Firstly, there was the stress caused by having to perform while BP executives were present. This can be referred to as, “The Big Stick Mentality,” which is a slang term used in Trinidad. It simply means people can’t perform unless there is an authority figure breathing down their necks. Maybe they find it exciting but other persons may not as it can be extremely stressful. However, the opposite of this can also be stressful where there is a lack of authority during major situations. It’s like looking to your boss for guidance during a disaster to see him driving off without helping (“Pressure in d camp oui”).
            Psychological hazards can occur even after the job with Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) being a serious psychological illness which can lead to other problems such as paranoia. Anxiety is debilitating illness which can affect some people for an entire lifetime if not taken care of. In the movie Andrea is seen as having anxiety and it is then aggravated by being pressured to jump by Mike. This is a serious psychological hazard which is then made worse when he pushes her albeit for her own safety into the water. Thank god for Mike, because any other person would have jumped and left Andrea on her own.

GIF showing Mike pushing Andrea off the rig

In order to have mitigated psychological hazards on the Deepwater Horizon, regular drills should have been practices to know how to treat with fire, explosions and any other situation. By doing the drills persons would have been a little more prepared during an emergency. Additionally, upon gaining employment persons should have undergone psychological evaluations and continued it annually to determine how they work under stress. Such evaluation could have prevented the blow out by Mr. Jimmy and Jason standing their ground and not feeling pressured as Donald demanded to begin extracting mud.

ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARD

GIF of Pelican covered in mud from the explosion at Deepwater Horizon

 In watching Deepwater Horizon, the first effects of environmental hazard, was when the pelican bird flew into the neighbouring ship desperately attempting survival by trying to escape using its instinctive means of flying. The contamination of the oil on the bird was displayed when it began to beat up its wings trying to flee the area. Hence, it flew into the ship until it met its demise and died. To help describe what that scene inferred, we must define the term environmental hazard. According to GEMET (General Multilingual Environmental Thesaurus), environmental hazard is “a physical, biological or chemical agent capable of causing harm to the ecosystem or natural resources.” It was one thing to see the damage done to the rig and human life, however, ecosystems has been deeply compromised of their natural habitat due to that blow out, all in the name of making money. Considering the movie was an enactment of the actual situation that took place, the told and untold damages would have been amounted to millions. Even after the 87 days it took to control the fire, the consequences would have been tremendous. The plants and animals that were contaminated would have been food for other species causing an interruption in the food chain. These environmental hazards in the Gulf of Mexico would have affected the aquatic habitat and the livelihood of persons living and working in the arena. Therefore, to mitigate environmental hazards the use of the three (3) E’s that is education, engineering and enforcement should have been applied.

ENGINEERING: Rigs should be built with a mandatory pipeline that is separate from the existing drill pipe and kill pipe in order to transport any excess environmentally hazardous substances such as the fossil fuel oil, gas and or the mud used to extract the lucrative substances to a temporary storage tank. This pipeline should be used as a plan C emergency option where those substances can be stored so that it can minimize the hazards at any given emergency situation where the commodity can affect the environment.

EDUCATION: Rigs should have a daily educational policy to follow before, during and after procedures and that should be understood by both managers and engineers operating on rigs. Therefore, if a cement test is to be done every day at 6:00 am that policy should not be compromised every 6:00 a.m. , managers nor engineers should  not deviate from that policy as it is an important OSH policy in order to prevent oil, gases and mud from affecting the environment. Also as part of the drill having a plan A, B, and C for cases where if A do not work then B, then C.

ENFORCEMENT: Administration should put signs and plan the type of drills that should be carried out in order to enforce the policy and where updates to policy changes make sure all employees are aware of the new policy.

OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Properly detailed safety information should have been posted all over the rig and also persons should have been trained to know where to go in case of life threatening emergencies. 
  • More safety equipment such as lifeboats and life jackets were needed.
  • Interpersonal forms of communication were needed. Having these on the rig would have allowed persons in their offices and bunks to know what was happening outside and this may have allowed them to evacuate sooner than they did. 
  • Regular maintenance of equipment such as alarms and telephones could have possibly save lives and cause less injury to be done to the crew on the rig.
  • More authority should have been given to other qualified workers to take decisions that can save lives, especially in times of crises. A simple thing as pressing a button should be delegated to more than a handful of people in the event that they all just so happen to die. 
  • Management should not be able to overrule the head of operations in matters that are literally life or death.
  • All staff needed to be educated on all potential hazards and trained to operate in life and death situations.

REFERENCES

Chemical hazard. (n.d.). Retrieved June 24, 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemical_hazard

Eley, T. (2010, May 14). What caused the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon? Retrieved June 24, 2019, from https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2010/05/spil-m14.html

Goldstein, P., Dr. (n.d.). Effects of Crude Oil Exposure to Children, Adults, and Pregnant Mothers. Retrieved from http://www.amfs.com/resources/articles-from-our-experts/effects-of-crude-oil-exposure/

Kuhl, M. (2016, October 02). New ‘Deepwater Horizon’ Photos Featuring Dylan O’Brien, Mark Wahlberg & More. Retrieved from https://www.hollywoodnewssource.com/new-deepwater-horizon-photos-featuring-dylan-obrien-mark-wahlberg-more/