Time to take a deep breath?

April 22, 2013

Ask About Risk

It’s the first thing we do when arriving into the world. It’s a physical process that allows the right amount of oxygen into our body and it’s important to pay attention to the quality of the air we breathe because it’s not always what it seems. Breathing in airborne pollutants, especially in the workplace, can lead to ill health.

One of the most dangerous airborne pollutants is asbestos. According to the World Health Organisation there are around 125 million people in the world today who have been exposed to asbestos in their workplace and  over 100.000 people die each year from asbestos related diseases.

When the risk of breathing toxic substances has been identified using the correct respiratory protection is vital if we want to avoid occupational lung diseases and the protection must perform under the specific identified risks for each task.

Here are some examples of hazards and diseases…

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The summer approaches let’s get on the water!

April 17, 2013

Ask About Risk

Sea Views April 2013 001

The recent opening of a new facility for the Irish Coastguard in Cork following closely as it does from the most recent reports by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board into accidents at sea, prompts the question:  Where are we with Safety at Sea in the leisure boat and the commercial fishing sectors in Ireland?

The recent announcement by Simon Coveney, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine of proposed safety initiatives targeted at commercial fishermen and the leisure boat sectors, details of which will be announced early in the summer, is to be welcomed but will it move Safety at Sea for our fishermen and leisure boat users far enough forward?

Current legislation / regulations mean that someone purchasing a boat for leisure purposes can buy that boat without being asked to prove have they suitable qualifications to operate the boat in a safe manner. A commercial fisherman…

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Audits & Inspections – are you doing them for the right reasons?

April 16, 2013

As a software provider we are often asked to suggest different templates for helping clients to manage audits and inspections. The benefits of Quality, Environmental, Health and Safety (QEHS) software tools are that it makes managing all audits and inspections a much easier task. However we want to help clients ensure that they are doing the right type of audits and inspections.

One fundamental question that must be answered is: ‘Why are we doing these audits and inspections?’

The answer is that these activities are a very important control method for managing hazards and risks. And each organisation will have different hazards and risks depending on the nature of their activities. Logically then each organisation would need to have different templates for audits and inspections, but the truth is not so bad.

Management systems have been developed to standardise the way that organisations manage risk. A good audit will then look at each of the elements of the management system and ensure that each part is working as required e.g., training, reviews, documentation etc.


Inspections on the other hand will focus on more specific aspects such as housekeeping or other important controls that need to be kept in order. They are a compliance check. They need to verify that the standards established set by the organisation are being achieved. Of course, if no standards have been set e.g., for housekeeping etc, then of course it’s very hard to say what level of compliance was achieved.

Assuming that you have a robust system in place for identifying hazards and their related controls (please refer to Ask About Risk’s Health & Safety Wiki for a free helpfile for this) then a good reference source would be a publication from the American Chemical Society called Safety Audit / Inspection Manual.

We would be delighted to promote similar reference sources if they become known to us.

If you would like a tool to help you conduct audits & inspections as well as risk assessments, then please visit our website or send an email to info@ehasoft.com.

Farm Safety – where to now?

April 8, 2013

Ask About Risk

As I drove away from a recent IOSH sponsored seminar on “Cultivating a safer future in rural Ireland” I was struck by how seemingly intractable the whole area of safety in rural Ireland seems to be. From machinery safety to Lyme’s disease to an ageing farm population to the perceived cost of safety, the mix of issues and the fragmented approach by the various bodies involved seems to make a very difficult situation more complex.


I listened to Peter Gohery’s personal and moving story of how easily and quickly his overalls became entangled in an un-protected PTO shaft of a feed mixer and before he could react he had lost one of his legs from the knee down.

And even now a number of years on from this life changing accident as he continues to work his farm, his palpable frustration at the machinery suppliers and the difficulties in sourcing components to…

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