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Sheila Pantry Associates Ltd


Editorial Archive

Disasters: learning the lessons for a safer world

Sheila Pantry OBE
September 2010

In his recent (2010) book Disasters: learning the lessons for a safer world, published by the Institution of Safety and Health, the author David Eves, CB says that information contained is more than just a catalogue of catastrophes and mistakes. For each of the events recorded here, the author gives the background to what happened, a summary of the outcome and details of the lessons that were, or should have been, learnt. He also explores the politics of disaster and risk reduction. The book also goes beyond the stereotypical idea of what makes a 'disaster'. Fires, explosions, chemical and nuclear leaks, and structural collapses are all included, but so are events that are less high-profile but nevertheless offer important information for improving future risk management. Some, such as the UK Windsor Castle fire or the outbreak of foot and mouth disease, killed no-one but cost millions to put right. Others, such as asbestos, crept up on unsuspecting workers, causing fatal diseases many years after exposure. Other disasters are covered: fires; explosions at fuel stores; environmental pollution; accidents with high explosives; shipwrecks; offshore oil disasters; air crashes; accidents in space; nuclear disasters; mining accidents; railway collisions; crowd crushes; stadium tragedies; human factor; structural collapses; floods; silent killers - carcinogens and public and animal health. Learning to reduce hazards, risks, knowing about the politics of disaster and establishing a culture of safety all takes time and experience. Likewise Roger Bibbings, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) Occupational Safety Adviser in his recent Parting Shots article Learning from Accidents (July 2010 RoSPA OSH Journal) examines why so many opportunities for learning are missed. It is worth spending time reading these publications and putting into action, and constantly updating safer and healthier procedures in all workplaces. You will find many such pieces of advice and guidance in OSH UPDATE

Your OSHWorld Portal

OSHWORLD continues to bring you news, publications, web sites that you will find useful in your daily work. There are many authoritative and validated sources of information listed in OSHWORLD. In the Subject index you can easily find up-to-date advice and guidance on a range of topics for example from asbestos, construction work, agriculture, manufacturing through to training. And if you are looking for country specific information, then click onto the Country of your choice.

Look at the latest additions to the Diary of Events and you will see plans have been made already worldwide up to 2012 to have training courses, symposiums, conferences and webinars in many places in the world on a wide range of subjects.

One way of keeping up to date is to go to exhibitions and the world's major OSHE events.

Remember that even if you cannot attend these many events, speakers and organisers are often willing to share their knowledge. Look at the details - where possible, I add in the web sites of these events so you can request further information. And do let me know if you are organising any OSHE events so that I can add them to the Diary.

On Your OSHWORLD portal will lead you to find new items of interest. Globally there are continually new titles, news items and new products - so remember to look at the News to find the latest information from a number of countries. Use OSHWORLD as your main portal to many hundreds of validated and authoritative web sites which you can find in the Country and Subject links we offer. New subject topics are constantly brought together on web sites, e.g. drugs and alcohol abuse in the workplace.

This month's FOCUS article is entitled Keeping workers - especially young workers, safe and healthy.

Remember to look at the Products and Services on this web site and see what is new and updated. You might also wish to look at to the various services and suppliers listed.

Likewise OSH UPDATE brings together 19 quality databases and over 813,000 records containing both full text and bibliographic information.

Both OSH UPDATE and FIREINF are continuously enlarged as new information is published. These services are used by organisations, universities and companies worldwide.

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Don't work harder - work smarter! Be ahead of the game.

Are you having a zero accident, incident-free and healthy year in 2010 in your workplace? Some would argue that this is not possible! But keep on trying!

And do continue to make plans for your campaigns for 2011 and beyond!