I recently attended the DROPS Forum in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. Over 180 representatives from the oil and gas industry attended to share experiences and knowledge about preventing dropped objects in the workplace. The key speakers targeted awareness, identification and controls as important factors in reducing dropped object related accidents and near misses which is very much an issue not only for the oil and gas industry but for every industry exposed to gravity.
Listening to the key speakers and talking with individual members during the coffee breaks, it seems to me that “Normalization” is a key contributor to dropped objects ie the hazards are camouflaged – they blend into the surroundings as they have always been there or that’s just the way it’s always been done.
It’s very encouraging to hear companies are implementing targeted “Dropped Object” hazard hunts and independent “dropped Object” inspections, where a new set of eyes and a focused objective can expose potential dropped objects that seem to be camouflaged to everyone else in the day to day work routine.
It is also very encouraging to hear DROPS raising focus on engineering out dropped object hazards at the design phase. Ultimately, dropped object prevention focused at the design phase will phase out many issues for the operator, decreasing the risk of serious injury to life and damage to expensive equipment. You just have to think about the enormous developments in the motor vehicle industry where focused safety engineering design has ultimately delivered improved safety for the operator and occupants of the motor vehicle. Like all improvements it’s an evolutionary journey, learning from what works well and what doesn’t, what’s practical and what’s a good idea in theory but not very practical in the real world.
The DROPS forum gave me a unique insight into the issues faced by the oil and gas industry. It also presented me the opportunity to share knowledge and provide practical solutions by showcasing Pro 3 Products “Dropped Object Prevention System”. The System comprises three types of guarding:
- RetroGuard : is designed to fit to existing handrails to prevent objects falling through the handrail;
- RetroSTEP : is designed to fit between stairs to prevent items falling out the back of the stair treads;
- RetroTREAD: is designed to fit over grid mesh walkways preventing items falling through the mesh to the levels below.
The system has been engineered to fit securely to guardrails, walkways and being made from steel then hot dipped galvanized, the system is extremely versatile and durable.
The DROPS forum was very enlightening; a great event to listen to operators, share ideas and promote the elimination of dropped objects. There were a number of displays demonstrating secondary retention methods and educational programs that are available to any industry. Even if you’re not involved with the oil and gas industry but are challenged by the affects gravity has on your work environment I would recommend you take a look at the resources available on the DROPS website www.dropsonline.org and encourage you to share your ideas and thoughts on “Drop Object Prevention”.