0
$\begingroup$

I recently outfitted a crew to build scaffold in preparation for an upcoming turnaround at our plant. Among the tools requested were canvas buckets for manually hauling material and tools up and down scaffolds. In sourcing these I went through a reliable well established industrial supplier with a know brand. I ordered bags rated for 100 lbs which above the maximum load for manual hoisting permissible on our site.

Several days after arrival on site one of these bags failed with a 27 lb load in it. Nobody was hurt but it could have easily turned out differently. We immediately pulled all bags from use. In investigating it was discovered that when used outside in winter conditions that the plastic parts of the bag bottoms become brittle. No temperature restrictions were offered in any documentation related to these bags and these tools were being used for the purpose they were designed for.

I feel awful that a decision I made put people at risk. Is there some aspect of due diligence in tool selection that a reasonable engineer would have been expected to take that I had missed?

$\endgroup$
0
4
$\begingroup$

As a busy engineer, I would say you did your due diligence. There are always more variables than we are given time to consider. The higher the risk of failure/injury, the more time we spend on it, but there are limits. I often try to have another engineer or manager look at my work so there is another set of eyes on it. Also, taking time to test new tools/equipment is a good when possible. In hindsight this would have addressed the issue. Sometimes you can do "field testing" by just testing the smallest portion of the system at a time. This could be like first giving out one bag to a worker that you know will give your prompt and reliable feedback before your give out all of them.

Our company just started requiring a hazard analysis for all capital projects and major process changes. A small change like bags may have flown under the radar, but a procedure like that might be something worth implementing.

On the other side of things, remember that the workers are not helpless. They consciously or subconsciously know to test their tools before they use them. They should also be wearing proper PPE like hardhats and steel toe boots to reduce risk in general. It also helps to let these guys know that they have a say in what tools they use. If they feel something is unsafe they need to make everyone aware. We recently implemented a take 5 safety program that is designed to assist with this.

In addition to this, please let the manufacturer know (not just the vendor). You will save more people than just the people at your facility. If they are of any credibility they will refund or replace your bags too.

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.