Archive for March, 2010

Situational Awareness Saves Lives

Recently in the USA a man was killed when a light aircraft making an unpowered emergency landing on a beach struck him while he was out jogging. He had an MP3 playing through ear pieces so there was no chance he could hear the whooshing through the air of the gliding aircraft. The pilot survived but no doubt will suffer to the end of his life over this accident.

Engineless planes make very little sound as they glide to earth. Perhaps a little more noise than actual purpose designed gliders but this crash was exacerbated by the fact the propeller of the aircraft had fallen off and the pilot’s vision was minimal due to an oil spray on the cockpit windscreen. Like most tragedies it wasn’t one, single event that led to the death of the jogger, a man with a three year old child. It was a series of often unrelated and by themselves fairly benign events that, combined, turned a hairy escape for a pilot into a tragic loss for someone else’s family.

The aircraft had an oil leak that covered the pilot’s windscreen, he also lost power and the propeller. The man was listening to an MP3 and running with his back to the approaching aircraft. One would presume there were few people on the beach at the time as nobody seems to have warned the runner of what was coming along behind him. Even if they had, would he have taken any notice let alone heard them?

What are the odds of going for a run on a beach and being hit by a crash landing light aircraft? How do you manage that risk? The only sensible advice I can offer is to never fixate on what is in front of you but to regularly scan 360 degrees and keep your finger on the pulse of everything around you, that’s awareness at work.

How Low Can They Go?

We recently had a 35 year old Canadian man attacked and beaten for several minutes at our local railway station. He was taken to hospital with depressed fractures of the skull. The police caught one offender and the other  handed himself in as he knew he wouldn’t last long on the run. He was 15, the first caught was 16. The man they brutally attacked was in a wheelchair. The lesson here, one among many, is that you can’t expect others to hold the same standards of decency and appropriate behaviour as yourself. You can’t allow a disability or attribute such as age, gender, health etc to keep predators at bay. I’m not for a moment suggesting this victim felt that way either, I am using his misfortune to press home a point.

Most of us wouldn’t dream of attacking anyone, much less a man in a wheelchair. These two did. We would never think of harming a pregnant woman with two small kids yet four teenage girls did that last year at our local mall. Old people, the blind, those on mobility scooters… none are safe just because they are already burdened with a handicap of sort sort.

Predators do not think like that. They see weakness as something to be exploited by them for their gain. They are like most bullies little more than cowards but too often their victims have not the wherewithal to resist adequately. Be aware of this and review your own vulnerability. Then start thinking possible scenarios and solutions.

How Much Cash Do You Have On You?

An Iraqi woman now living in Mildura was so traumatised by her experiences in that war torn country she didn’t trust banks. Instead she kept her life savings of some AUD$130,000 in her handbag and took it everywhere. Having been here nine years or so you might think she had gotten over her distrust of banks but sadly ,no.

One would be forgiven for thinking if you can accumulate that much money (she says it was for a deposit on a house) you would be hyper aware of it in your bag and hang on to said bag like grim death. Not so this lady. While shopping she left it in the shopping cart in the car park after loading the car and drove off! When she returned the bag was gone (surprise, surprise!) She was so distraught she needed to go to the hospital where she collapsed.

The police soon caught the thieves and recovered nearly AUD$100,000 just 48 hours later. They were dobbed in I believe, a tip off. The woman will be reunited with her cash and hopefully this time she’ll risk it in a bank.

Lessons to be learnt are many fold. Don’t carry large amounts of cash around with you, it is too easy to lose it. If you do, then look after it and don’t drive off leaving the bag behind. If I were one of the thieves I would claim I found the bag and was in the process of finding the owner. Of course that won’t wash but if you are stupid enough to throw thousands of dollars around when you are known as a habitual thief and welfare recipient…

Read about it here. This early headline calls it a bag snatch but technically it was a found bag not returned. To be honest I have very little sympathy for the woman, despite trying my best. Her daughter was interviewed on television and she spoke Australian accented English and although just 13 or 14 she was very switched on. Surely she could have advised her mother of her folly but perhaps culturally that isn’t done in their family? Perhaps the thirty grand or so she lost will be written off as an expensive education in common sense?

Jumped Or Pushed?

Recently a South African woman ended up in hospital when her parachute failed to open correctly. She claims she saw the three previous jumpers all have problems with their chutes and refused to jump but… her instructor pushed her out of the plane!

Of course he denies this and says while they did circle a couple of times she jumped of her own volition. Someone is right and someone is wrong and my money would be on the woman unless she is trying to get a court settlement from the skydiving company.

This is a good example of paying attention! If you do see other people having problems with their chutes then by all means don’t follow them. I can;t see why an instructor would force someone to jump if he knew there were problems with the chutes but perhaps after seeing hundreds of new jumpers he was somewhat immune to the normal range of reactions and took her as someone who just needed a little help to achieve their goal.

Read the story for yourself here and tell me what you think.

Workplace Deaths – Killer Whales And Tigers

In February a trainer at Florida’s Sea World was killed by a Killer Whale (Orca) after her show. Apparently she lay down too close to the whale and her pony tail fell into the water. Curious, the whale grabbed the ponytail in its teeth and started to play with it. She was dragged around by the whale and died before other trainers could rescue her. A simple mistake she paid for with her life. The Avenue of Harm? Nature. Yet it is also a case of workplace ‘violence’ and safety.

Not something we usually think of when it comes to workplace safety however the trainer was at work and she did lose her life. Just today there is a report of a zoo keeper in Shanghai killed by a tiger. Apparently he forgot to lock the cage. Simple mistakes like that do get you killed. Again, it happened in his place of work and it was via the Nature Avenue of Harm.

Where do you work? What do you do? How could you die at work today?

Managing Safety Is A Personal Matter

Perry Gamsby

Enjoy the blog posts here. They are an eclectic collection of opinions, events, experiences and sadly a few tragedies. All are true and have happened to someone, somewhere. Just about all of them were avoidable.  Visit every page on the site but come back here regularly as there will always be something new to read and hopefully learn from. Remember, few things in life are ever actually fatal.

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