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Growing interest in Occupational Safety and Health


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10.0 Earthquake…Natural or Man-Made??

Topic: Occupational Health and Safety

Title: 10.0 Earthquake… Natural or Man-Made??

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Picture taken from 2014 USA Movie

Introduction

This blog was based on the movie ‘10.0 Earthquake’. We know that earthquakes are natural disasters of which we cannot control, but did you know that they can be man made as well!? In the energy industry, there is a term called fracking. The movie referenced was thus based on the concept of illegal fracking and how it caused numerous mini-earthquakes and finally one major earthquake measuring 10.0 of the Richter scale. Saving the day was essentially the synopsis of the film, but along with it came a plethora of health and safety issues which we identified to aware you, follow bloggers and viewers, about the dangers which plague the industry. 

Hydraulic Fracking

So what is fracking? According to Rinkesh kukreja the editor of Clean and Green Energy, Hydraulic Fracking is one of the more recent methods of natural gas and oil extraction. It involves drilling down deep into the Earth’s crust where there are deposits of shale gas and oil that the more usual methods of extraction have not usually been able to reach and injecting high pressured water into the rocks that contain the gas or oil. This water, mixed with sand and a special cocktail of chemicals, the ingredients of which fracking companies have not yet released to the public, causes the rocks to break.” CONFUSING?? My Apologies!. Try taking a look at the video below.download

      Video 1: Bang Goes the Theory – Series 6 – BBC

ERGONOMIC HAZARD:

Confined Spaces

CHEMICAL HAZARD:

Propane/Methane Gas

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Image 1: Jack and Co-worker in a Confined Space posed by Chemical Hazard

The scene above, showcases two hazards, the first hazard; ergonomic hazard which according to the Australian Government Comcare website is identified as a physical factor within the environment that harms the musculoskeletal system, it includes repetitive/continuous action, manual handling, office, job or task design, uncomfortable workstation height and poor body positioning. Though we do not see some of these ergonomic hazards the scene above does show where Jack and the co-worker goes into a very dark confined plant space in search of what was causing the ongoing disturbance without doing a gas testing and atmosphere monitoring, they had to slowly walk towards their destination as they are not sure what objects are in their pathway making their job task very uncomfortable.

Also in this scene Jack and his co-worker complained of smelling methane while entering the underground of the plant, thereby presenting the second hazard; Chemical hazard which would have been toxic, corrupting their breathing passageway. Although Jack and his co-worker were wearing helmets while underground, they were not fully prepped with Personal Protective Equipment as they did not have the proper body attire and they did not walk with their supplied air respirators and were at risk therefore Jack and his co-worker should have proceeded into underground plant equipped with fully operating torch lights and full gas masks and air respirators so that they could have see clearer and also so they wouldn’t be breathing in the toxic methane. According to the U.S National Library of Medicine, methane in high concentrations displaces the oxygen supply you need for breathing, especially in confined spaces. Decreased oxygen can cause suffocation and loss of consciousness and even asphyxiation.

Solution/Learning Tips: Employees on or before proceeding into the underground of the plant, must make sure to do a gas testing and atmosphere monitoring to know if it is safe to proceed down under if the test are cleared of danger, proceed down the plant while walking with a heavily lite torch light on person, as well as supplied air respirators and proper body attire to protect one self from minor unseen hazards.

ELECTRICAL HAZARD:

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Image 2: Jack using his cellphone within the plant grounds

In this scene above the actor uses his cellular device near the refinery plant. This may be dangerous as mobile phones are not intrinsically safe, meaning that they have the potential to produce a spark of such intensity that it could ignite a vapour air mix. Which is especially prominent in a refinery. Although there isn’t sufficient evidence to prove this it still should be avoided.

Solution/Learning Tips: Quickly move away from nearest plant and make the call, just to be safe.

PHYSICAL HAZARD:

Fall Hazard

Crush Hazard

Fire Hazard

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Image 3: Debris and roadways falling and sinking

There are two images displayed above, the first image depicts a falling risk posed by the workers in the plant, as can see debris is rapidly falling from the above ceiling. The other image shows both Gladstone and Emily escaping the road breakout as a result of the earthquake. These two images displays the disastrous effects that the fracking posed as a result of causing earthquakes.

Solution/Learning Tips: So to our fellow readers whenever there is a warning broadcast of earthquakes about to occur, persons must make sure to quickly execute their safety measures before, during an after the earthquake. Before the earthquake make sure you and your family are equipped with a first aid kit, a battery-powered radio, a flashlight, and extra batteries at home, don’t leave heavy objects on shelves as they will fall during the earthquake, anchor restrict heavy furniture and appliances to the walls or floors, always learn the earthquake plans for school and at work, in case the earthquake is about to occur and you are not home and finally make your own family plan of meeting after the earthquake if your family is by some reason separated. During the Earthquake make sure to stay calm, if you’re indoors, stand against a wall near the center of the building, stand in a doorway, or crawl under heavy furniture and stay away from the windows. If you’re outside, stay outside, stay in the open away from power lines or anything that might fall and stay away from buildings. Proceed to the nearest muster point, and as seen in the second image above, if you’re in a car, stop the car and stay inside the car until the earthquake stops else you can be crushed by falling debris.

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Image 5: Fire Hazard

Coming closer to the end of the movie there is an explosion scene which is shown in the figure above. Explosions are classified as a fire hazard and are dangerous in many ways. Fire hazards can contain live flames, sparks, hot objects and chemicals that can potentially ignite or intensify a fire from becoming larger and uncontrolled which was scene when a small ground fire inflamed the helicopter and the skyscrapers. This is what occurs in the scene as a chemical explosion transpires. This explosion was most likely caused by a leak in gas lines of either propane or methane with a possible mixture of oxygen.

Solution/Learning Tips: The best approach to prevent fires and explosions is to substitute or minimise the use of flammable material. If that is not possible it is important to avoid effective sources of ignition. Fire protection methods can also be used as they are measures that are taken to prevent fires from becoming destructive and reduce the impact. It involves the implementation of safety planning practices and drills that includes individuals to be educated on fires, research and investigation, safety planning and training.

PRESSURE HAZARD:

 

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Image 4: Pressure Hazard in the underground of the plant

The above image at the end shows compressed gases bursting out of the pipes. According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, all compressed gases are hazardous because of the high pressures inside the cylinders. Gas can be released deliberately by opening the cylinder valve, or as seen in the image above accidentally from a broken or leaking valve due to the massive movement or possibly from a safety device. Even at a relatively low pressure, gas can flow rapidly from an open or leaking cylinder. In the image you will see that Jack received a gush of gas to his face which may have damaged or injured him by causing Anoxia which is basically no oxygen available or Hypoxia; known as reduced oxygen and gases trapped in body cavities such as sinus passages
middle ear, lungs eyes and skin being burnt depending on pressure. There have been many cases in which damaged cylinders have become uncontrolled rockets or pinwheels and have caused severe injury and damage. This danger has happened when the cylinder valve broke and high pressure gases escaped out rapidly.

Solution/Learning Tips: Employees while trailing the underground of the plant must make sure to walk with well supplied air respirators and proper body attire to protect themselves from hazards and risks, so that if same thing was to happen to them, that happened to Jack, they would not be inured, but will be able to effectively move to the nearest safe pathway. This can be prevented if there is sufficient training & testing of personnel, periodic inspections, proper operating conditions, relieve pressure from system, keep hoses short, secure cylinders and isolate plants far away from residential or commercial areas.

PSYCHOLOGICAL HAZARD:

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Image 6: Jack, Stephanie looking for their daughter Nicole, and finally finds her.

In the scene above, you will see family stress as Jack and Stephanie race to find their daughter Nicole and at the end finding her safely. Just imagine an earthquake is occurring and your loved ones are not with you, and you search everywhere to find them unharmed. Its not a nice thing to imagine I may say!. The worrying and stress can cause psychological hazard and risk to one self and the family. Questions such like; Is my family alive or dead? Are they injured? Are they safe? would be racing through their minds causing them to become panicked, stressed and may possibly cause heart stress.Psychological hazards are identified 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” (Physiotherapy Alberta- n.d.)

Solution/Learning Tip: This may be a challenging to solution to give, but the best solution is to just think positive thoughts, pray and believe that you will return to your family member and never GIVE UP!

Inadequate Personal Protective Equipment:

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Image  6: Inadequate Evacuation Plan Causing Fatalities

 Jack and his co-worker could not have predicted that the metal pole would have fallen on the underground cover while they were proceeding out, but they became fearful when it closed because they were at risk from the broken gas lines and the steadily reduction in oxygen and they were not equipped with the supplied air respirators, they also could not have evacuated anywhere else because all the pathways behind them was too dangerous to even proceed.

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Image 7: Jack, his co-worker, Gladstone and Emily Outside plant grounds

These actors are at risk in this scene above as full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is not worn while they are on the plant. PPE is equipment that will protect the user against health or safety risks at work. It 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). Therefore they should have the majority of these items if they are in the near vicinity of the plant.

Solution/Learning Tips:This shows us that something will always go wrong in the workplace that may be detrimental to our lives so employees and employers must take the necessary precautions to have safe systems of work in cases such as trapped in confined spaces, lack of equipment and evacuation plans and procedures. It also shows us that Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) must always be present and worn correctly, it goes a long way in preventing serious damage to your body.

Conclusion

While Earthquakes are natural disasters, there are opinions (eg John Vidale, director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network) that it can be caused by man and his lack of concern for his environment. Man is not just a threat to his environment and all the other creatures, but the greatest threat to himself. Had it not been for Organizational Safety and Health so many issues normally would go unnoticed. There were Physical Hazards, Chemical Hazards and Psychological Hazards the combination of which was leading to a National Disaster. It is clear that being ignorant to the safety and health issues that can occur does not mean they are not already present. There is an old local saying “what miss yuh, eh pass yuh”, that is to say, not because it has not happened yet does not mean it will not. The damage to our environment might not be realized in the near future but may eventually present itself.

Earthquake Catastrophe

Image 8: Taken from movie

References:

“10.0 Earthquake”, 15th October, 2014, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3488056/?ref_=nv_sr_1

Potential Health and Environmental Effects of Hydrofracking in the Williston Basin, Montana”, May 2005,

http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/health/case_studies/hydrofracking_w.html

“Major treats from fracking-related air pollution”, 16th December, 2014, https://www.nrdc.org/media/2014/141216

“Worker exposure to silica during hydraulic fracturing”, June, 2012,   https://www.osha.gov/dts/hazardalerts/hydraulic_frac_hazard_alert.html

“Keep Fracking away from T&T”, 29th November, 2013, http://www.trinidadexpress.com/letters/Keep-fracking-away-from-TT-233880651.html

http://www.livescience.com/32932-can-humans-cause-earthquakes.html

Canadian Centre Occupational Health and Safety:-https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/chemicals/compressed/compress.html

https://oshwiki.eu/wiki/Prevention_of_fires_and_explosions

http://www.uh.edu/~jhansen/ITEC4350/GoetCh11.htm

United States Department of Labour; Occupational Health and Safety Administration

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“A Conversation on Safety. At the Tyre Shop.” An OSH Story

Conversation

Image 1: Informal Conversation, Source: Lee Ann Lee Chee Wilson DD: 17.10.2015

In Trinidad and Tobago we are often comfortable to wait on the “tyre repair man” to repair and or change your tyres. It is not really a ‘big deal’. It gives some of us some time to sit outdoors and engage in some ‘idle chit chat’, check our messages and emails, before we go on our merry way. On my last visit to a tyre shop in central Trinidad, I, had to do a tyre change of a flat tyre. I was asked to have a seat on a bench on the outside of my vehicle whilst the tyre repairman changed the tyre. While I waited, I took the opportunity to have an informal chat with two of the employees who were working outside.

One worker was noticeably clad in rubber slippers whilst he jacked up the vehicle. I looked at him and asked, “What about your personal protective equipment?”
“Wha is dat?” he replied.
“Safety equipment, steel toe boots, safety glasses, gloves?” I answered and smiled.
“Yea man we does get dat. We ha gloves an boots an everything.” The other responded, pointing at his feet that were sheathed in rubber gardening boots.
“Do you mind if I take some pictures of your equipment?” I asked.
“Go ahead nah.” was the response.
I took the photos, and then continued, “So, how often do you service your equipment?”
They both looked at each other.
“Three months”…
“Every year!”…
They both smiled. “You know nah, buh nobody does ever get damage here!” the first one exclaimed.

It was quite evident here that the workers at this shop were aware of wearing proper personal, protective equipment to prevent any physical hazards from happening. However, the behavioral attitudes of the employees, show that many unsafe workplace practices are still commonplace in our society.

Do you know that a moment of negligence can lead to us being damaged
or even lead to our death?

Take a moment to view this short video on risk assessment at a truck tyre shop by Michelin.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxrruyGpMAA accessed18.10.2015

Physical hazards made simple

My group and I looked at this tyre shop, looking for evidence of awareness of OSH practices… or breaches. We found that most physical hazards present are mainly there because workers ‘simply’ created them. As seen in the photos below, working tools, unsecured and tangled hoses and even a tyre in the walkway presented many physical hazards.

20151019_110619_resizedAir tool and jack

Images 2 and 3: DD:Physical/ Mechanical Hazards, Source: Lee Ann Lee Chee Wilson 17.10.2015

At this small establishment, equipment seemed to be lying everywhere. This negligence could be the cause of slips, trips, bumps and falls. Equipment was not put away leading to cluttered conditions in work/ shop floor area. Debris and moisture/ wet spots were also visible. Employees as well as members of the public could be injured by the sharp edges of cutting tools. Although a jack is used, the equipment seemed to be very poorly maintained and there was evidence of rust, we questioned its reliability and safety. Equipment such as these are likely to subject the user to crush and pinch injuries should they fail. Workers need to be correctly trained how to protect hands and arms, when placing the tyres on the mold.

Mechanical hazards identified

According to Texas State University, mechanical hazards refer to moving machinery that can cause injury or death. At this tyre shop there were many machines with movable parts making the potential for death, dismemberment or disfigurement very high. Especially if they are altered or are poorly maintained. We found instances where safety cages were removed from their machines (See image 4) . In one instance, there was a rotating wheel that inserts into a metal ring into truck tyres under pressure there no safety guards in place. If the machine is started and the ring is improperly inserted the ring could become disengaged from the tyre and because of the force exerted on the ring and tyre. This in turn can hit an employee or members of the public that are seated on the bench or standing nearby causing serious damage even death. It was also noted that jacks and other lifting equipment were poorly maintained. There were large accumulations of oil, grease and dust on them that could cause these equipment to malfunction causing crush damage or dismemberment .

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Image 4: Machine that has had its guard/cage removed & Image 5:Crush point hazard Source: Lee Ann Lee Chee Wilson 17.10.2015

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Image 6 Car Body Lift, Source: Lee Ann Lee Chee Wilson 17.10.2015 Continue reading


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THE FLOODING IS IMMINENT!

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Flood_Insurance_full  One to two hours of rainfall raises this question about life in Trinidad and Tobago: Would you rather have perfect beach weather, blazing hot sun and a dry yard? Or rain, and a soggy carpet? Again.

For the past few years, it seems as though this problem is getting worse. We can no longer sit back and enjoy the soothing sound of the rain beating against the windows or the delectable smell after the rains cool the blistering asphalt after a long day or week of sweltering sunshine. Now, we scramble to make sure nothing valuable is near the floor and no electronics are plugged in and out of reach of the disaster that we know is coming.

So, what is flood? Many of us have this idea that floods or flooding is simply, too much water around your house. People think that can be fun. Wrong! Flooding is a lot more than that. Flooding is extremely dangerous and has the potential to wipe away an entire city, coastline or area, and cause extensive damage to life and property. It also has great erosive power and can be extremely destructive, even if it is a foot high.

There are many types of flooding that can occur:

 Riverine Flooding – This usually occurs when a river overflows its banks. It is usually due to the volume of water within a body of water, such as a river or lake, exceeding its capacity and overflowing its banks. It can also occur when the velocity of the river is so high that it flows right out of the river channel, usually at bends. We typically see this kind of flooding at the Caroni River and Basin. (pictured below)

caroniriver

Coastal Flooding –  The sea can overflow flood defences such as sea walls, due to a heavy storm,  a high tide, a tsunami or a combination thereof. Trinidad and Tobago recently experienced a devastating example of this when the Manzanilla/Mayaro sea wall was thundered and topped over by raging sea waters, taking the road with it.

Flash flooding – This is a flood that rises and falls rapidly with little or no advance warning. Flash floods usually result from intense rainfall over a relatively small area. This is the category of flooding that regularly  occurs throughout Trinidad and Tobago, particularly the Port of Spain and the University of the West Indies. (south gate at the UWI below)

south gate

Urban flooding –  This occurs as a result of land development. Permeable soil layers are being replaced by impermeable paved surfaces, through which water cannot infiltrate. This leads to greater runoff being generated, which can make rivers out of roadways and ponds out of car parks. Once again, we see this type of flooding in Port of Spain (pictured below). Since the capital is made up mostly of reclaimed land, the sea and rivers have been redirected. However, that can’t stop them forever.

urbanflooding

When parts of the country flooded again and again, some looked to the hills, blaming deforestation on the elevated regions for the floods in the low-lying areas. Some focused on the drains, pointing fingers at the failure to maintain clear watercourses . There are many areas in the region that may be prone to severe flooding especially those areas where drainage is poor and dumping of rubbish is rampant.

Because of this the society is exposed to numerous risks of such flooding including a major health risk and hazard.  But what really causes the constant invasion by flood waters? Is it just one problem or a combination of many? Floods can stem from a number of events both natural and human made, including:

Prolonged and Heavy Rainfall.- When rain falls for a prolonged period of time, the soil can become saturated. When water is unable to infiltrate into the saturated soil, it is forced to flow over the soil, thus increasing surface runoff.  When rain falls heavily; the rain drops hit the ground with a force. This can cause the rain drops to bounce off the soil instead of infiltrating into the soil. The water from the rain is then forced to flow over the surface instead, thus increasing the surface runoff.

Deforestation – The lack of vegetation encourages water to flow over the surface rather than infiltrate into the soil thus increasing surface runoff. We see cases of this on a day to day basis. Whenever we drive to Maracas, past the Northern Range, there are clear signs of deforestation on the hilltops, which are being used for quarrying or urbanization (pictured below).

deforestation north

Poor land use practices – Slash and burn agriculture, over-cultivation and over-grazing eventually cause the soil to become infertile and unable to sustain vegetative growth. Consequently, the lack of green cover encourages water to flow over the surface rather than infiltrate into the soil. The Caroni plains is perhaps the best example of over-cultivation. From being used to grow sugar cane for a number of years, to now being used for rice and other produce (pictured below).

caroni plains

Urbanization – This leads to the replacement of permeable soil with that of an impervious layer of pitch and concrete, through which water cannot infiltrate. This results in increased surface runoff which leads to flash flooding.

chem dpt 2

Improper waste disposal– Oftentimes, garbage that is not properly disposed enters into drainage systems and clogs drains. This obstructs the free flow of the water that enters into these drains causing water to back up during rainfall flooding the surrounding area. A build up of garbage can also obstruct the natural flow of water in rivers and streams. Trinidadians seem to have a blatant disrespect for the environment, this can be seen by the hoards of rubbish that line the streets, river, streams daily. We see drivers throwing garbage out their vehicles on the highway and then wonder why our country floods every time a bit of rain falls (pictured below).

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Quarrying  – This is the clearing of land for the removal of aggregates (mainly sand and gravel) which is to be utilized in the construction industry. The action of quarrying leaves land bare and devoid of any trees and shrubs hence increasing surface runoff produced. This is not a new occurrence in Trinidad and Tobago. It seems as though there is a quarry everywhere we turn.  Toco, Arima, Matura, Valencia and Santa Cruz just to name a few of the locations. – Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management

The Trinidad Express composed an article within which they interviewed the Caribbean Agricultural Research & Development Institute and its executive director. The article consisted of the causes of flooding in Trinidad and Tobago over the last 40 years. They noted “Data collected over a span of 40 years by the Meteorological Office at Piarco has shown that there has been no significant change in the volume of water, measured in inches, that falls year round. CARDI’s executive director, Arlington Chesney, said this data highlights the need for a proper development policy.  “What has changed isn’t the rainfall, it’s our land management,” Chesney said during a recent interview.  “It’s the same volume of water but, in many instances, it simply has nowhere to go and we get the level of flooding we have been seeing in recent years.”

Unchecked housing developments, the changing of water courses and denudation  of the hills are among the causes cited for the poor drainage and flooding being experienced around the country during heavy rainfall. “

http://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/Poor_drainage__not_rain__blamed_for_floods-145709225.html

Where there’s flood, there’s dirty water and where there’s dirty water, there are many risks involved. Flooding brings about a whole catalogue of chemical, physical, electrical, psychological and biological hazards. Biological hazards can come in the form of infections due to bacteria that causes diseases and viruses. Flooding poses risks to people’s health and well-being. It causes a vast number of illnesses, and waterborne diseases such as- cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery and typhoid. It even leads to an increase in the amount of mosquitoes spreading malaria and other fatal illnesses.

Our drinking water may also be contaminated with various pollutants such as sewage, human and animal waste, and poisonous substances like oil, insecticides and other industrial chemicals. When persons consume this water they are susceptible to the waterborne disease which are very dangerous to life.

  • Escherichia coli (E. coli) – Rod-shaped bacterium of the genus Escherichia that is commonly found in the lower intestine of warm-blooded organisms. Most E. coli strains are harmless, but some serotypes can cause serious food poisoning and are occasionally responsible for product recalls due to food contamination.
  • Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS
  • Leptospirosis – an infectious bacterial disease occurring in rodents, dogs, and other mammals, which can be transmitted to humans.
  • Shigellosis – an intestinal disease caused by a family of bacteria known as shigella. The main sign of shigella infection is diarrhea, which often is bloody. Shigella can be passed through direct contact with the bacteria in the stool.
  • Skin Infections
  • Tetanus – Tetanus is caused by an infection with the bacterium Clostridium tetani, which is commonly found in soil, dust and manure. The bacteria generally enter through a break in the skin such as a cut or puncture wound by a contaminated object. They produce toxins that interfere with muscle contractions, resulting in the typical symptoms

Another type of hazard that one should be on the lookout for during flooding are physical hazards. Physical hazards are probably the most notorious dangers that are present during a flood. These can range from electrical hazards, water damage to the body and environment.

  • Trench foot, also known as immersion foot, occurs when the feet are wet for long periods of time. Symptoms of trench foot include a tingling and/or itching sensation, pain, swelling, cold and blotchy skin, numbness, and a prickly or heavy feeling in the foot. Blisters may form, followed by skin and tissue dying and falling off.  In severe cases, untreated trench foot can involve the toes, heel, or entire foot.
  • Drowning – Flood water poses drowning risks for everyone, regardless of their ability to swim. Swiftly moving shallow water can be deadly, and even shallow standing water can be dangerous for small children. Vehicles do not provide adequate protection from flood waters. They can be swept away or may stall in moving water.
  • Injuries – Flood waters may contain sharp objects, such as glass or metal fragments, that can cause injury and lead to infection. Wood, metal and other objects are being swept by fast moving water or are being covered by high waters making them unable to be seen. This can lead to puncture wounds, shear wounds and much more.
  • Electrical Hazards – After a hurricane, flood or other natural disaster you need to be careful to avoid electrical hazards both in your home and elsewhere. Avoid contact with overhead power lines during cleanup and other activities, do not drive through water if downed power lines are in the water. It is easy to be electrocuted during a flood as one may not notice downed power lines while driving. Also, electrical equipment in the home that are in water can lead to electrocution. Do not try to unplug them.
  • Destruction of homes and other infrastructure- flooding can easily weaken buildings causing them to collapse. It causes greater loss than just a building. People lose everything including household appliances and a proper resting place. Flooding removes the comfort of calling a place your home.

engineering(engineering block at the UWI)

  • Destruction of agricultural land and crops: if our agricultural land is destroyed, how and where will our crops and vegetation be grown? Furthermore how will we survive and sustain a proper standard of living? Less crops will mean higher prices on the market as their will be a great demand. In turn we the citizens will have to dig deeper into our pockets to purchase these goods causing a negative effect on the entire region.

The bottom line of flooding is that it also adds another risk to our lists. Mental stress! Yes that’s right!

  • Mental stress and fatigue is another life threatening risk as it may cause financial instability, cost us great loss and cause all round tension before, during and after since much preparation, clean up and caution is needed to keep us on our toes to protect ourselves and our loved ones.
  • The picture below illustrates flooding at UWI, which could delay the learning process of students as it will be difficult for them to attend classes. As a result of this, many will become tensed and frustrated as they will be concern about their education.

eng crossing

Finally, Chemical hazards are infamous during flooding. They can consists of chemicals from sewage plants to household cleaners that get mixed up in the flood waters. One should be aware of potential chemical hazards during floods. Flood waters may have moved hazardous chemical containers of solvents or other industrial chemicals from their normal storage places. When these chemicals interact with the human body, they can cause:

  • Choking – causes severe irritation or swelling of the respiratory tract (lining of the nose and throat, lungs)
  • Incapacitation — by drugs that make people unable to think clearly or that cause an altered state of consciousness (possibly unconsciousness)
  • Metallic poisoning
  • Nerve ailments — highly poisonous chemicals that work by preventing the nervous system from working properly
  • Vomiting —chemicals that can cause nausea and vomiting
  • Uncontrollable bleeding

keep-calm-because-we-can-fix-that

So how can we deal with the problem of flooding in the country and at The University of the West Indies? We not only came up with our own solutions to the problem, but we included the “Inter American Development Bank: Trinidad and Tobago Flood Alleviation and Drainage Program (2013)”. This plan proposes solutions and ways to initiate them, with the help of pieces of legislation that include the OSH Act, Public Health Ordinance, The Water and Sewage Authority Act, The Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Act, among others.

Solutions to flooding can be divided into separate categories; soft and hard engineering strategies. Soft engineering strategies can be described as flood warning and preparation while hard engineering strategies are building dams & reservoirs and channel straightening. The soft engineering strategies deal with protection while hard engineering strategies accesses the situation and offers the best alternative solution.

Flood preparations can range from personal protection, property protection, knowing evacuation routes to health and sanitation. Personal preparation and health and sanitation are similar:

  • Listen to news updates and other local information sources such as the ODPM and the Red Cross to get information and advice as soon as possible.
  • Drinking and using pipe-borne water is a serious health hazard after recent flooding, it is strongly suggested that bottled water be used or boiling water to remove any harmful bacteria.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting anything that got wet is always advisable, in order to remove any sewage, bacteria or harmful chemicals which might accompany the floodwaters.
  • The goal of property protection is to reduce the risk of damage before flooding occurs. This will require elevating critical utilities such as; electrical panel, sockets, wiring, and appliances. Waterproofing flat areas with sandbags and man-made banks can also help.
  • Knowing the quickest way out and alternative routes is also important especially in the capital city Port-of-Spain. If you are to get out of the capital city Port-of-Spain before sunset and you have to use public transportation on a rainy day it is always recommended that you move as quickly as possible.

The use of dams, reservoirs, channel straightening, costal defence and afforestation can be used to prevent flooding.

  • Dams and reservoirs are designed to store water and control the discharge of rivers. Therefore, the government should consider designing more of these dams in flood prone areas. In the dry season these dams should be maintained and checked.
  • In addition, cleaning and widening river banks to ensure smooth flow of water in the rainy season. River defences such as channel straightening, levees, diversion spillways should be considered to equip and aid rivers which burst its bank an annual bases.
  • Meanders are removed by building artificial cut-through. This makes the water flow faster which reduces flooding because water drains downstream more quickly and does not build up to the point where the channel cannot contain anymore.
  • Diversion spillways should also be considered which equip rivers with gates which can open to alternative sources to release water if and when necessary. The Flood Alleviation and Drainage Plan suggested that in order to aid the flooding in the Frederick Street- Independence Square area, 3.0km of drainage conduits should be installed and fitted with flaps gates that prevent water from the river flowing back out into the streets.
  • Around the Queens Park Savannah was recommend drainage, accompanied with a detention basin that at the south corner to relieve flood waters and trash collectors in the Gulf of Paria where the basin will empty to prevent any further blockage.

Bringing the problem of flooding a bit closer to home, The University of the West Indies is no stranger to being completely submerged under water.

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(Vehicles submerged at UWI car park)                                                                   (Flooding in front the Alma Jordan Library)

Other than the amount of rainfall the most popular reason for flooding in and around campus is improper drainage and pollution.

  • We recommend that the relevant authorities find alternatives or modify the drainage system. The second ranked perceived reason for the floods at the University of the West Indies is improper maintenance. The drainage pipes and waterways should be checked and cleaned at least every three months. There should also be a head of maintenance department monitoring and accessing maintenance personnel work. Tackling the major causes will certainly put an end to the problem if not at least alleviate it to some extent. With that being said, the time taken for the flood waters to subside will be shorter.

The most popular responses from students being affected by flooding is being stranded in campus unable to leave and not being able to enter.

  • In order to rectify this problem students can address their concern to shuttle service authorities, to work through prolonged periods of flood. An increase in the amount of shuttle buses should be used when there is flooding.
  • The university can also consider building a ramp from block six(6) engineering to an area close to the south gate entrance. Since this is the most popular spot in which flooding occurs and students cannot leave or get into campus.
  • The second most popular response from students being affected by the floods is being unable to attend classes. The university should have a strict policy where classes are cancelled during flooding. It should be considered since a few students complained of health concerns such as skin irritation.
  • When there is flooding the maintenance department should be given the responsibility to sanitize the compound with whatever chemicals necessary since the floods attract rodents. Just a few poison boxes around campus does not deal with the influx of rats, cockroaches and mosquitoes that are seen after flood waters have subsided.
  • Students are of the view that the problem can be solved by reconstructing the drainage system, regular maintenance and planting of more trees in areas such as LRC Green and on the lawn of JFK
  • The University should request that the cooperation officials maintain surroundings areas such as underground drains on at least on a monthly base. Heavy fines should be imposed and enforced since many businesses in the St Augustine area practice dumping into water-ways.

Eliminating the threat in this situation should be the first strategy to preventing floods and the hazards associated with it. This in essence means that drainage systems should be cleaned and other causes dealt with respectively. However, if elimination is unlikely, then we should skip straight to engineering to ensure that the systems recommended above will be put in place to curb the flooding concern, e.g. creating detention basins, trash collectors and building alternative routes to classrooms in the case of the university.

Since we have noted that the majority of flooding is caused by human activities, we recommend that the government put in place strict laws and policies about trash disposal, quarrying and deforestation. We recognize  that without quarrying and deforestation, urbanization is curbed, however we advise that there be a limit to the amount of quarries that are run and also a height restriction on how elevated construction can occur on hills and mountains. Establishment of environmental laws is the way to prevent further flooding.

In conclusion, flooding does not only affect our lives today, it will also slow down sustainable growth for the future. It destroys our lands, homes and livelihoods, spreads poisons and toxins that can seep into our earth and affect our future generations. If we do not act now, we may not have a bright or dry future ahead.

REFERENCES

  • Risks associated with flooding

http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/emergency/flood/standing.html

https://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/pages/flooding_flood_risks/defining_flood_risks.jsp

https://www.google.tt/search?q=blog+iMAGE+OF+FLOODING&espv=2&biw=1366&bih=643&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0CAYQ_AUoAWoVChMI9o_KicnOyAIVQ_VjCh3WtAvg#tbm=isch&q=CARTOONISED+iMAGE+OF+FLOODING&imgrc=WUPhdQmGEiWilM%3A

  • Causes of flooding in Trinidad

http://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/Poor_drainage__not_rain__blamed_for_floods-145709225.html

  • Pictures of The University of the West Indies

http://www.tv6tnt.com/u-report/223331081.html

  • Types of Flooding

http://www.odpm.gov.tt/node/16

  • Solutions to Flooding

http://www.slideshare.net/HNurton/methods-of-flood-control?next_slideshow=1

http://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1409002852888-3c5d1f64f12df02aa801901cc7c311ca/how_to_prepare_flood_033014_508.pdf

  • The Flood Alleviation and Drainage Program PDF

Flood-Alleviation-Drainage-Program


2 Comments

Safety Md

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House is a TV series that is mainly about dealing with medical issues that patients may encounter, thus the episode “Ignorance is Bliss” was chosen. This blog wishes to shed light on the types of hazards, who were affected, who were responsible and finally reduction methods for these hazards.

While viewing Season 6 episode 8 of House MD “Ignorance is Bliss”. Many risks and hazards were detected. These included but were not limited to:
• Chemical
• Psychological
• Biological
• Physical
• Violence

Chemical hazards include skin irritants, carcinogens or respiratory sensitizers that have an adverse effect on a workers’ health. Chemical hazards occurs as a result of direct contact due to the exposure to chemical substances, usually through inhalation, skin contact or ingestion.

The main focus of the episode ‘Ignorance is Bliss,’ was a genus patient(Jimmy) was suspected of having Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura(TTP) a rare blood disorder which forms blood clot and limit the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the body’s organs including the brain. In this case the chemical hazards, was an ingestion combination of cough syrup and alcohol. As mentioned previously the patient(Jimmy) was a genius so as Dr. House called it, he made himself a ‘dumb drug’ fully aware of the short term effects but was unaware of the long term effects because he claimed it made him feel less miserable. The long-term effect of the ‘dumb drug’ eventually led to poor circulation and several blood clots which limited muscle movements.

Biological hazards are basically any organic substances that pose a threat to the health of living organisms. Biological hazards include toxic waste, body fluids, microorganisms, viruses, etc. In the movie countless biological hazards were noted. Risks such as absence of protective clothing while dealing with patients to eating in laboratories put not only the staff, but their patients and the by extent the public in danger. Section 7 (1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA Act) states that ” It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure….that persons not in his employment….are not thereby exposed to risks to their safety or health.”

At 06:54 a female doctor is seen performing tests within a lab not only lacking protective eye and mouth wear, but her hair is loose and allowed to fall freely about her shoulders. This can in turn pollute blood samples, etc from the patient or cause her to be infected by body fluids. In order to prevent this biological risk, the female doctor should have had her hair tied in a bun or covered by some sort of hair net/hair cap to reduce any type of contamination/infection. (Picture below)

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Another risk that could be easily avoided is another biological one. At 16:54 a male doctor is in the middle of performing a biopsy on the patient’s liver. However to the back of the room, we see the patient’s wife standing in the sphere of the procedure, without any protective gear on. The patient’s body could easily be infected if his wife was unknowingly sick, or if she touched any of the instruments used to inject his liver beforehand. Easily, I believe that the wife should not have been present while this procedure was being done so as to reduce the risk of any outside/unclean pathogens, etc entering and contaminating the needle, or the open wound in which the needle is being inserted. If she requested and was allowed to be present, she should have been outfitted with the proper protective clothing so as to ensure her safety and the safety of her husband. (Picture Below) As stated in Section 10 (a) ” Employee….to take reasonable care for the safety and health of himself and of other persons who may be affected…”

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An additional irregularity with the protocol carried out by one of the doctors was once again the failure to use proper protective attire for his hands while carrying out a medical exam on a patient. This measure can be corrected by always ensuring doctors wear latex gloves so as to avoid exposing their bare hands and coming in contact with bacteria as well as spreading germs to at risk patients (picture below). Section 10 (d) states ” to use correctly the personal protection clothing or devices provided”

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Furthermore, Psychological hazards are basically anything/emotion that can negatively affect your mental ability and in turn reduce focus on the job. E.g. Being Stressed. Many stressors were observed in the episode ranging from a strained marital relationship to tension between co workers and superiors, leading to an uncomfortable work situation in which teamwork is strained.

The first of many psychological hazards presented was the demeaning way in which Dr. House speaks to and interacts with not only his staff and co workers, but also his patients. In previous episodes House is depicted as an addict to the pain killer Vicodin, with a disregard for the finer points of medical ethics/protocol and his inability to cooperate with subordinates and administrators alike. House’s superiors are and were aware of these characteristics, however after many failed attempts, therapy seemed useless. At this point, I believe that Dr. House should have been asked to leave the job in order to ensure the psychological wellbeing of other staff members and patients.

Also, due to marital concerns, Dr. Robert Chase experienced high levels of tension that impeded focus on his job and caused him to be detached from his team. This can result in major setbacks and threat to patients since the cast usually works as a team in order to figure out possible cures and treatments. Therapy or counseling sessions should have been offered to Dr. Chase to ensure his stable mindset on the job to avoid accidents.

Physical Hazards are those that can cause harm with or without contact. Factors within the environment such as noise, ergonomics, heat, cold, etc are all examples of physical hazards. Being based on the medical field and filmed in a hospital, the episode is bombarded by countless physical hazards. Ergonomics playing a major role. As we all can imagine, doctors are up and on their feet days at a time in some cases. However this is no excuse to ignore their own health and safety.

When it comes to Physical risks, ergonomics come into play in this episode. At 18:48 two doctors were shown eating sandwiches in a lab filled with equipment and toxic chemicals. To alleviate this problem they should wash their hands clean with soap and eat at a cafe or a designated lunch room that is clean and safe from diseases (picture below). Another example of an ergonomic hazard was the patient’s wife in the exam room, were she questioned the doctors’ duties. The doctors were taking a bit long to discharge the patient because they wanted to run more test to find the best alternative solution, which they eventually did. If the doctor’s had given into her complaint, the patient could have been diagnosed for something else.

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Finally, it was seen that violent behaviour is present among the doctors. Violent Hazards include any form of physical attacks and threatening conduct. These hazards can be internal (within the company) or external (from an outside source). In this episode, the hazard was internal and between co workers. At 32:38 Dr. House was physically assaulted by a member of his team. This is an example of inappropriate work behaviour and should have been corrected immediately so as to avoid further disorder. To combat this problem counselling services should be provided to assist these doctors in properly dealing with co worker quandaries. (picture below)

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“A variety of stakeholders (society in general; patients; individual nurses; nursing educators, administrators, and researchers; physicians; governments and legislative bodies; professional associations; and accrediting agencies) are responsible for ensuring that patient care is safely delivered and that no harm occurs to patients.”- Nursingworld.org There are many risks and hazards as doctors ranging from patching up small cuts and bruises to dealing with highly contagious and deadly diseases. Therefore, it is mandatory to implement preventative and corrective measures to reduce the level of risks to ensure that safety and health is maintained among doctors, patients and the public.

REFERENCES

House MD – Google Search (House MD – Google Search)
https://www.google.tt/search?q=house&espv=2&biw=1024&bih=667&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0CAYQ_AUoAWoVChMIvYPes6C0yAIVyJANCh1svwtE#tbm=isch&q=house+tv+series&imgrc=dYoPd49ksWVF_M%3A

Hazard Identification – Google Search (hazard identification – Google Search)
https://www.google.tt/search?q=hazard+identification&espv=2&biw=1024&bih=667&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0CAYQ_AUoAWoVChMI_IW_3aC0yAIVy9KACh0AYADP#tbm=isch&q=what+is+a+hazard&imgrc=pm-6ThcDCvoA2M%3A

http://www.aylic.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/safety-slogan.gif

• Preventing Ergonomic Hazards

http://www.comcare.gov.au/preventing/hazards/ergonomic_hazards

• Link to House Md “Ignorance is Bliss” Episode

http://putlocker.is/watch-house-md-tvshow-season-6-episode-8-online-free-putlocker.html

• OSHA Act Online

http://osha.gov.tt/LegalRequirements/OSHAct2004.aspx
• Nursing World

http://www.nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/ANAMarketplace/ANAPeriodicals/OJIN/TableofContents/Volume82003/No3Sept2003/PatientSafety.html


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LEARN FROM THE MISTAKES OF OTHERS…A COMPARISON OF BP AND PETROTRIN OIL SPILLS

Whilst our first blog based on Bad Neighbours was understandable and relatable, this, our second blog highlights many unexplainable reasons as to why oil companies fail to implement measures to curb negative effects of their operations.It can easily be said that they do not want to waste time to act cautiously when profits can be made within that same period of time. In turn many losses are incurred and it is only then that they realise their mistakes.

Everyone is familiar with the infamous incident caused by oil company British Petroleum (BP). It was documented as the largest offshore oil spill in U.S history. It occurred on the evening of 20 April 2010, a gas release and subsequent explosion occurred on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig working on the Macondo exploration well for BP in the Gulf of Mexico.

115 workers were evacuated and eleven people lost their lives because of the accident while 17 others were injured. The fire burned for 36 hours before the rig sank leaking hydrocarbons into the Gulf of Mexico. As the rig sank, it led to a well integrity failure, followed by a loss of hydrostatic control of the well. This was followed by a failure to control the flow from the well with the blowout preventer (BOP) equipment, which allowed the release and subsequent ignition of hydrocarbons. Eventually, the BOP emergency functions failed to seal the well after the initial explosions.

The spill had a duration of 87 days, which lead to more than 200 million gallons of oil entering the Gulf of Mexico. The oil which leaked from the well affected a total of 100 miles of coastline in states such as, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. The well was eventually capped in July of 2010, but oil is till washing up on shores today.

However, BP is no stranger to oil spills as there was a previous oil spill in 2006, when it was cited for leaking around 4,800 barrels of oil into Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay, because of a corroded stretch of pipeline. BP was fined US $20 million, for ignoring opportunities to prevent the spill since they were warned four years earlier about the corroded pipe but did nothing to prevent its failure. Another incident which occurred in 2005 was a massive explosion at their Texas City, Texas, refinery, killing 15 workers and injuring 170 others. The company was fined $87 million for negligence.

Whoever lives in the Caribbean island of Trinidad and Tobago and hasn’t heard of the many outrageous oil spills of state-owned company Petrotrin should familiarize themselves with this blog or rather step out of their comfort zones. The Petroleum Company of Trinidad and Tobago had a series of spills occurring in the state, a total of eleven between December 17th and 29th 2013.

The first spill began on December 17th 4:45 am when a 16-inch sea-line, No 10, ruptured at the bottom of the Gulf of Paria near the company’s Pointe-a-Pierre refinery spilling more than 7000 barrels of fuel into the sea making it the largest spill in the history of Trinidad and Tobago.[1] An investigation conducted by six Petrotrin employees including a member from the Oilfields Workers Trade Union reported that four of the eleven leaks were related to companies which have joint ventures with Petrotrin. A weld leak was developed on December 17 on No 10 Sea Line which was said to be caused by a failed chain support not apparently defective during previous routine inspections.  The leak was discovered at Petrotrin Pointe-a-Pierre Port during fuel oil bunkers loading operations for the barge Marabellla.  Another spill occurred on December 17th 2013 in Point Fortin, when a gasket on a 16-inch line on Riser Platform 5 in Main Field area leaked and oil spilled into the sea. The company received reports on December 19th 2013 of oil at the Coffee Beach/Carrat Shed Beach areas in La Brea, another oil leak was reported in the area of Platform 17 in Petrotrin’s Marine Operations East Field in Point Fortin. On December 21st 2013, an oil leak was reported from lease operators Trinity Exploration and Production where two 3-inch bull plugs were discovered removed from two separate wellsite production tanks resulting in approximately one hundred barrels of oil being discharged into the environment. Other leaks were reported on December 24th at Brighton Marine Field and Moruga, Hudlin Trace, Rock River Village. All of which the causes are yet to be ascertained as Petrotrin is still investigating. On December 26th 2013 it was observed that No. 15 Sea Line, during the pumping of fuel oil to a tanker, became detached from Main Viaduct and fell into the sea, resulting in a quantity of fuel oil into the sea, the cause of this was same as previously recorded a failed chain support not apparently defective during previous routine inspections.[2] On Tuesday 29th August 2014, a ruptured storage tank resulted in the spillage of 17, 844 barrels of slop oil into the environment, with several thousand barrels of oil finding itself in the Guaracara River (Petrotrin Guaracara oil Spill: 60 percent retrieved, T&T Newsday).[3]

Petrotrin has been facing a lot of scrutiny since the spill due to a report that revealed the pipeline that exploded may not have been inspected in over seventeen years. The company was subsequently fined $20 million by the country’s Environment Management Authority[4]. Petrotrin has taken responsibility for nine out of the eleven spills and blaming the other two on saboteurs.[5]

President of Petroleum Company of Trinidad and Tobago Mr. Khalid Hassanali gave a detailed history as to how the spill occurred and said the 12 employees were interviewed at least three times for various reasons. He said: “Twelve were initially suspended. Of those 12, six were found to have a lesser level of culpability and six were found to have a very high degree of culpability. And, for those six where the level of culpability weighed very heavily, those six (yesterday) morning were issued letters of termination from employment at Petrotrin.”[6]

Picture 2 http://unctt.org/strong-evidence-of-sabotage/

Picture 3 Rise Platform 5 Cited: http://unctt.org/strong-evidence-of-sabotage/

Similarities between BP & Petrotrin’s Oil Spills 

BP PETROTRIN
Marshall Islands deputy maritime affairs commissioner Bill Gallagher, who carried out an inquiry into the explosion because the rig was registered in the Pacific nation, said lessons had to be learned from the disaster.

He said there were indications of a problem at the Deepwater Horizon rig before the blast that killed 11 people on April 20 last year but the crew failed to act.

“There were multiple signs that there were issues at the well itself, indicators, pressure testing, and things of that nature were going on,” Gallagher told Australia’s ABC radio Friday.

“There were signs that there were some problems with the well…the blow out started and then, of course, the disaster followed shortly thereafter.”

Safety warnings issued to Petrotrin by the MEEA’s Inspection Unit:
2010 roll-overs: 966. 2011 — 2,085. Number rectified in 2011 — 1,193. 2011 roll-overs: 1,858.
New warnings issued in 2012 – 1,326. Number fixed — 1,435.
Roll-overs into 2013 — 1,785.

New warnings issued last year – 1,923.
No figures were available for the number of problems resolved.

The big spill: Not a chance occurrence but a culmination of negligent events.

Causes of both Spills
The failure of the rig crew (from all parties) to stop work on the Deepwater Horizon after encountering multiple hazards and warnings

  • BP’s failure to have full supervision and accountability over activities on the Deepwater Horizon
  • BP’s failure to fully assess the risks associated with operational decisions leading up to the blowout
  • BP’s cost or time-saving decisions, which did not consider contingencies and mitigation
  • BP’s failure to ensure all risks associated with operations on the Deepwater Horizon were as low as reasonably practicable.
  • Hassanali outlined the circumstances revealed by the investigations. He indicated that from 2:10 am to 3 am on December 17 fuel oil was being pumped to a barge off the Petrotrin jetty.
  • He noted that such activities occur almost on a daily basis at Petrotrin. The employees on that particular ship, Hassanali said, had noted that fuel oil was being pumped from tank 68 but not being received by the barge.
  • Pointing to a diagram that showed the location of the tanks, pumping station, oil lines and the Lube Oil Jetty and the Viaduct Jetty, Hassanali said checks were carried out along the line to the Lube Oil Jetty but no leaks were found but the barge still was not receiving the fuel that was being pumped and instead of halting the procedure a second pump was activated and pumping of fuel oil continued until after 5:20 am.
  • Petrotrin’s President said the oil was being leaked through a fissure in the Viaduct line, which intersects the Lube Oil Line, and had the pumping stopped at 3 am there would have been a loss of about 1,000 barrels but since pumping continued until 5:20 am 7,000 barrels were lost. Hassanali said investigations would continue.

Effects and Hazards of the Oil Spills

The oil spills from both companies negatively impacted the economic, the biological and public aspects of Trinidad and Tobago.

Economic Effect-both spills mainly affected the environment. They both caused heavy damage to the sea bed and marine life. The oil damage fishing grounds which in turn caused fishes and other marine life to become mutated or unable to thrive in such an environment. Most of them either died or were unable to be used as a sustainable food source.  Thus, the livelihood of the fishermen was affected as they in turn were unable to earn a living. Since their livelihood was threatened, they become dependent on the government resulting to a strain on the economy. Furthermore, with the BP oil spill, families had to relocate which caused real estate prices to fall drastically. Thankfully in both instances, neither country was dependant on the fishing industry as its major source of revenue.

Biological hazards – Many chemical hazards resulted from both spills. With the BP spill, it was discovered that the oil released 40% of a chemical called Methane into the ocean causing most of the marine life to die or become mutated. Methane can potentially suffocate marine life and create dead zones where oxygen is depleted. There was also evidence of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH), which are often linked to oil spills, and include carcinogens and chemicals that pose various risks to human health, as deep as 3,300 feet (1.0 km) and as far away as 8 miles (13 km). The PAHs can kill animals immediately, in high enough concentrations, and can also lead to cancer. Plants and land around the sea were also severely affected in both spills. With the Petrotrin oil spill, the oil devastated the surrounding mangrove as well as displacing and deforming the animals that live there. Both spills released chemicals in the surrounding air making it difficult to breathe in.

Public hazard-a 29-year-old mother of two who resides near the Guaracara River in Marabella suffered from a miscarriage on the Saturday after the oil spill occurred. She began experiencing abdominal pains and hemorrhaging and was not given any plausible explanation as to why it occurred. When interviewed she said “I don’t know if that (the oil spill) is what caused my son to die. I just having a feeling that thing (oil spill) is what caused my lil boy to get sick.” The mother had planned to name her child Kayleon Juma Troy.Several days after the spill, a Petrotrin medical doctor advised Denacia Davis, another pregnant resident, to leave her home as a precaution.(Petrotrin Oil Spill Victim Suffers Miscarriage, Trinidad Express Newspapers)[7].

It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment, who may be affected thereby exposed to risks to their safety or health. It is also the duty of every employer or self-employed person in prescribed circumstances and manner, to give to persons, not being his employees, who may be affected by the way in which he conducts his undertaking, the prescribed information about such aspects of the way I which he conducts his undertaking as might affect their safety or health.(Occupational Safety and Health Act, Chap 88:08, p.20)[8] However, it can clearly be seen that Petrotrin did not take responsibility for those affected by their operations. After each spill, relief measures were then put in place to compensate those affected and not before the spills occurred.

Recommendations Prescribed for Petrotrin

  • The Centre for Disaster Control (CDC) saw the need to respond to potential health related issues resulting from the oil spill. They activated their emergency response plan as part of a federal response to the disaster. Part of this plan included efficient communication with health departments to allow a quick response and support for potential health risks.One response action the CDC took was the surveillance of health threats. Together with health departments, they used national surveillance systems to track any breakout or worsening of any condition related to the eyes, skin, respiratory or cardiovascular systems. Evidence of foodborne outbreaks was also monitored. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) expanded the health surveillance to workers on and off shore and volunteers from potential health hazards as a result of not only the oil spill but from chemicals used in the clean-up efforts.
  • In relation to the local oil spill involving Petrotrin, none of these actions were taken. Petrotrin did not even have an emergency response plan for the residents of nearby communities. This plan though not part of BP’s response, was the responsibility of a government body. There were no signs of any similar local body with any response actions. Several questions were raised in the media about Petrotrin’s emergency response plan after clean-up efforts were underway.
  • Petrotrin should provide motivational factors to ensure that employees do what is right in order to avoid mishaps. They should also be trained in social and ethical actions so that the appropriate responses to spills can be executed to ensure the safety of those who can be affected by the spills. The company makes a well enough figure to create a meagre expense as this in order to avoid greater losses.

Although Petrotrin has a well laid out safety policy available on their website they seem to not follow through with their health, safety and environment promises as they continue to experience spills. They should have reflected and remembered BP’s 2010 spill and put measures in place in order to avoid their own dilemmas. After such a huge loss on the part of BP, Petrotrin being a large petroleum company should have learnt something somewhere.

References:

[1] Marajh, Camini (2014-04-05). “Petrotrin silent about oil spill for 4 days”Trinidad and Tobago Express. Retrieved 2014-04-24.

[2] Update on Spills (2013-12-27) http://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/UPDATE-ON-OIL-SPILLS-237621491.html

[3] Richardson Dhalai (2014-08-02) “Petrotrin Guaracara oil spill: 60 percent retrieved.” http://www.newsday.co.tt/24.htmlnews/0,1985

[4] Boodram, Kim (2014-01-07). “EMA fines Petrotrin $20 million”Trinidad and Tobago Express. Retrieved 2014-02-22.

[5] Visser, Nick (2014-01-14). “Trinidad Oil Spills Leave State-Owned Energy Company Scrambling To Clean Up”Huffington Post. Retrieved 2014-02-22.

[6] Sue- Ann Wayow (2014-02-08) Six Petrotrin Employees fired for Negligence. http://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/Six-Petrotrin-employees-fired-for-oil-spill-negligence-244572581.html

[7] Sandhya Santoo (2014-08-19) Petrotrin Oil Spill Victim Suffers Miscarriage

http://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/Petrotrin-oil-spill–victim-suffers-miscarriage-271938561.html

[8] Occupational Safety and Health Act. 2004 Amended by 3 of 2006. Ministry of Legal Affairs. http://www.legalaffairs.gov.tt

http://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/gulf-of-mexico-restoration/deepwater-horizon-accident-and-response.html

http://www.esquire.com/the-side/feature/gulf-of-mexico-oil-spill-facts

https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-bp-oil-spill

http://phys.org/news/2011-08-gulf-mexico-oil-crew-probe.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/oilandgas/8763644/BP-cost-cutting-a-cause-of-Gulf-of-Mexico-oil-spill-US-report-finds.html

http://news.gov.tt/content/six-terminated-petrotrin-hassanali

http://globalvoicesonline.org/2014/05/03/aftermath-of-an-oil-spill/

http://www.trinidadexpress.com/letters/Oil-spill-questions-for-Petrotrin–237091021.html

http://www.bt.cdc.gov/gulfoilspill2010/cdcresponds.asp

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petrotrin_oil_spill

Video Links for BP & Petrotrin Oil Spills:


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SHATTERED LIVES: HOW TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

M6+1’s first group feature looks at the impact of slips, trips and falls on our lives within the workplace and how we can make a difference.

International Labour Office (ILO) reminds us that every year around 337 million people are victims of workplace accidents; more than 2.3 million people die because of occupational injuries or work-related diseases around the world.  The statistics for industrial accidents and fatalities in Trinidad and Tobago has its own significance – 919 industrial accidents and 5 fatalities in 2011 alone. (see table 1)

Table 1

Reported Work Related Accidents in Trinidad and Tobago

Fiscal Year                                                       No. of Reported                                         No. of which were fatalities
(October to September)                                 Workplace Accidents                  

2010-2011                                                                            919                                                                         5

2009-2010                                                                            904                                                                         6

2008-2009                                                                            1114                                                                       15

(Source: osha.gov.tt: OSHA Accidents, 2011. Web. 23 September 2014.)


Employers have a legal responsibility to ensure that the workplace is safe for all employees.  Likewise, employees have a responsibility to observe safe practices and not compromise safety measures in place.  Incidents and accidents occur either due to employees’ non-adherence to safety and health rules and guidelines or, employers’ failure to institute strict measures to ensure sound safety and health practices in the workplace.  The effects of such occurrences can be quite debilitating on lives.

To get into the right frame of mind, watch the following video on trips and falls in the workplace: Can’t Get No Traction Continue reading