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Fluid Power Safety Alerts

(Ref. No. SA-028)

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Reactive safety - the American way
by Rory S. McLaren

The majority of corporate safety programs are nothing more than a façade – window dressing!

There is an abundance of irrefutable evidence:

  • September 11 – approximately 3000 lives lost – root-cause; human error.
  • Valujet flight 592 – 110 lives lost – root-cause; human error.
  • Alaska Airlines MD 80 – 88 lives lost – root-cause; human error.
  • 2 Children die as trash compactor rips school bus – root-cause; human error
  • Electrician killed when hydraulic basket inexplicably launches him in to high voltage wire – root-cause; human error.

And the list goes on! The fact is that in the vast majority of cases, “safety can be measured in direct proportion to what the budget will permit.”

I am often told by maintenance professionals that “safety is a top priority until production goes down and then the priorities switch.”

A personal friend of mine who works for one of the largest mining companies in the world is currently undergoing what he calls, “shift the blame to the worker” training.

The company (located in the Rocky Mountain area) hired a crane safety consultant from Florida to conduct a crane safety training course. However, his company allowed the safety training company only one day for the training instead of the prescribed two days.

Upon starting the course, the instructor announced that he could not possibly cover the materials in one day. As he covered what material he could, he gave them the answers for the test and assured them that he would see to it that “nobody failed.”

Hotel Fire Safety – Emergency Evacuation Plans
After beating my head against the wall in an attempt to alert the hotel industry, and basically giving up on pursuing the matter through OSHA (an overloaded, overworked, and understaffed behemoth) I am going to appeal to my followers on a matter regarding hotel Emergency Evacuation Plans.

You may have noticed that behind every hotel door – as required by law – there is a drawing showing the room occupant how to execute an emergency exit in the event of a fire – or if the fire-alarm should sound.

Apparently, the plans are drawn at the discretion of each hotel because they differ with respect to their “point-of-view” from one hotel to another.

Some hotels show the emergency escape route from the point-of-view of looking at the room door from the outside (passage) looking in, while others show the route facing the door from the inside of the room facing out (toward the passage).

This, in my opinion, is cause for concern because, in the event of a fire, these inconsistencies could cause unnecessary death.

Let’s face it, most people don’t read the fire escape/evacuation plan upon entering a hotel room. However, it is safe to say that in the event that the fire alarm sounds, or the hotel is on fire, people will generally resort to reading the Emergency Evacuation Plan and respond accordingly.

Those hotels who choose to show the Evacuation Plan from the point-of-view of facing the door from inside the room will benefit from mass confusion in the event that the passage is smoke-filled.

Those who choose to show the emergency escape route from the passage will create mass confusion and possibly death especially for those unfortunate occupants who’s rooms are located at the ends of the passages – their escape plans will have them running head-long into a fire while the fire escape may have been a few steps away.

Like September 11th, flight 592, and the endless list of disasters and unnecessary injury and death we have suffered at the hands of incompetence, we will inevitably read in our daily news about the unnecessary loss of life due to the inconsistent posting of Hotel Evacuation Plans because fire-marshals, hotel owners and managers, room occupants, and, OSHA failed to take care of this subtle yet critical detail.

For the few of you who will see this notice, be safety proactive! Follow these simple rules when occupying a hotel room:
  1. Immediately upon entering a room read the safety information and study the Emergency Evacuation Plan.
  2. If you are traveling alone or with the family execute a “fire-drill” by following the fire escape plan – make sure all the doorways are clear and the escape route is uncluttered. Also make sure that all fire-escape doors are intact and open freely.
  3. A fire-drill is imperative if you leave unattended children in the room. Remember, if the fire alarm sounds, even if it is a false alarm, you cannot go to your room to rescue your children, you have to leave the hotel via the closest exit and hope your children make it out alive!

Fact: Children ages newborn to four years old are most frequently admitted to hospital for burns – at a time in their lives when Mom and Dad are their watchdogs!

Rory S. McLaren
Fluid Power Safety Institute

Your comments are welcome.


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