With the amount of time that our Emilcott associates spend on different sites, they have seen just about everything when it comes to incident investigations. We thought we would share some of our incident investigation lessons learned, so that you don't experience similar situations. Here are a couple of example "learnings" from Emilcott's staff:
"While working at a remediation site … I almost got clobbered by a sandbag. The site was pretty windy, so they used sandbags to weigh down the liners in the truck beds that were waiting to be filled. Otherwise the wind would rip the liners off or whip them around. I was walking the site and had stopped to look at something, when a sandbag hit the ground about 10 feet in front of me. The wind had whipped the liner hard enough to fling the sandbag a few hundred feet, from where the trucks were waiting to be filled to where I happened to be standing. The investigation found that the sandbags were supposed to be 30-50 pounds each, but that they’d been making them about 20 pounds because someone decided 30-50 was excessive."
"When tracing a sandblaster’s breathing line to the compressor source …. I followed the airline through a few work zones into a building that housed the breathing air compressor along with oil-lubricated air compressors supplying equipment air and a few HVAC compressors. The air intake to the breathing air compressor was from within this mechanical room. Once alerted, the site management agreed that safe operations indicated the intake should be moved even though the current the air quality in this mechanical room was acceptable, and there never were any problems with the units in the room … The air intake was promptly relocated to outside the building. A few weeks later a fire started one of the oil-lubricated air compressors. There was no impact on the breathing air for the sandblasters using the air."
"While working at a remediation site, the focus was to measue airborne mercury ... A contractor was excavating an area with potential mercury contamination. The soil data indicated that the mercury levels were in parts per billion. An overhead power line traversed the area to be excavated, so a spotter was set up for the excavator operator. The excavation work began and personnel were put into position. The temperature was below 40°F that day and the mercury vapor analyzer did not pick up any detectible levels of mercury. As work progressed, the wind changed direction and the personnel who were now downwind became concerned about potential mercury exposure. An engineer on site directed the spotter to move so that he was not positioned downwind. The spotter changed position without notifying the excavator operator and the excavator operator continued digging even though the spotter had moved. The arm of the excavator caught the overhead power line which was energized. Fortunately no one was injured as a result, however, the fear of potential mercury exposure caused the workers to ignore the very real electrical hazard."
We are thankful for these lessons and we hope that sharing them will help you learn the lessons others had to learn the hard way!