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Attendees:  Aaron Hryciw

Conference presentation slides are now posted on the event website.

Keynote talk

Keynote speaker:  Dave Fennell,

Reasons for risk tolerance:

  1. Overestimation of ability (strength, agility, speed).
  2. Familiarity with task - complacency.  Use “stop and think” processes.
  3. Seriousness of outcome.  Language which does not sound serious (pinch point vs crush point/amputation point).  Hot water, sweet gas.
  4. Voluntary actions and being in control.  28x more likely incidents for off-the-job risk.  Imagine taking the control away (e.g., switch drivers).
  5. Personal experience with an outcome.  If you have seen a serious outcome, you will be less tolerant of risk.
  6. Cost of non-compliance.  Greater cost ($) can lower risk tolerance.  E.g. $10k fine, licence suspension for speeding on the 401.
  7. Confidence in the equipment.  Drivers with anti-lock breaks had more accidents (better brakes, so I can drive faster).  Risk homeostasis.
  8. Confidence in protection and rescue.  Excellent PPE can result in overconfidence in its ability to protect.  What are the limitations of the PPE?  It does not make you invincible.  Do not count on the rescue team!  They are guaranteed to retrieve a body, but not necessarily a live rescue.  “Every job should be able to be done safely by a 65-year-old with a bad back and butt naked.”
  9. Potential profit and gain from action.  E.g., overtime pay (fatigue).  Fatalities and lost-time incidents in the oil patch increase and decrease with price of oil.  Pay/reward system in place which encourages risk.
  10. Role models accepting risk.  Dynamics of work group.  E.g., avalanche training story.  12 of 14 identifying avalanche risk still said they would anyway.  2 role models (young, charismatic snowboarders) said yes immediately, 8 followed suit right after, 2 more succumbed to peer pressure.  Recognize “erosion of standards” (“that’s not how we do it here”) and address immediately.

In general, making “stop and think” processes part of daily activities can do much to reduce risk tolerance.

Move to action:

  • What could go wrong?
  • How bad could it be?
  • What can I do about this?

Risk tolerance can be an addiction.  I choose to reduce risk:  admit it, identify one personal risk, commit to take the action to eliminate the risk.

Create a risk culture that lowers risk tolerance.  

Quick talk by Adam Conway (EHS)

Hierarchy of responses:

  1. The IEMP:  Integrated Emergency Master Plan (level 1–3).
  2. Hazard-specific plans (very common or very serious).  Good news:  there is currently no overlap between these two categories.
  3. Unit Action Plans (UAPs):  how to get the unit through the crisis; there are 9 standard emergencies that EHS wants to have UAPs in place.  Operational Continuity Plans (OCPs):  how to return to normalcy after crisis is over, with assistance of central admin units.
  4. Day-to-day fun.  Dealing with minor crises (e.g. small floods).

There exists a UofA Safe App that can be used for working-alone monitoring:  users enter their info and an emergency contact's info, and the app will call the emergency contact automatically if the user does not acknowledge periodic alarm → may be useful for nanoFAB users?

Hazard Assessments

Greg Hodgson on Hazard Assessments.  We’ve seen this before:

  1. Identify steps/tasks in work
  2. List associates hazards.  Categories:  biological, chemical, physical, psychosocial, radiation.
  3. Rank hazards. Likelihood x consequence.
  4. Add controls for each hazard (hierarchy thereof:  elimination/substitution, engg. Controls, admin controls, PPE, combo of above)
  5. Re-rank with controls in mind.  L should decrease; C may also be, with right controls.

Group activity.

Question from conference registration

What liability are we exposed to as part of a safety committee?

In 30 years’ experience (Andrew lastname?) has not heard of any EHS safety committee being held liable by any regulator.

Ensure committee is acting in good faith to find solutions to concerns raised—best protection against liability.

Poll:  7 to 10 years ago, who could imagine being part of an EHS committee in a unit at the U of A?  Only ~5 out of 150 attendees said yes.  The building of safety culture has been relatively recent.

EHS Committee Award

EHS Committee Award winner was Ancillary Services.

1 Comment

  1. Missed the EHS Committee Mini-Conference or want to review the presentations? 

    • The keynote presentation from Dave Fennel, "Understanding and Influencing Risk Tolerance," is now available here. Thanks to Phil Poier for his videography efforts and to Dave Fennel for agreeing to share the resource exclusively with U of A EHS committee members. 
    • Review the conference presentation (Google Slides) here.
    • Check out this slideshow of images from the morning. Thanks to Hanne Pearce for her photography.

    Have a question about the event? Visit the conference webpage or contact us at