Accidents, Incidents and OH&S Management Systems

| August 28, 2007

Inadequate emergency planning has claimed more victims at the World Trade Center site in New York City.

According to reports in The New York Times and Forbes, two firefighters were killed in a fire and two were injured in a separate construction accident last week at the Deutsche Bank building near Ground Zero.  This building has been empty, and undergoing demolition, since it was damaged during the 9/11 terrorist attack six years ago.

These incidents highlight the importance of having a functioning OH&S management system – even for construction and demolition projects.

What were the obvious management system failures?

  • Lack of appropriate risk assessment / inspection processes.  Apparently, the fire department was not inspecting the building because of concerns about exposure to toxic materials.
  • Lack of emergency preparedness procedures.  No plans were in place for fighting a fire in the building.
  • Failure to take effective corrective and preventive actions.  This demolition project had apparently been plagued by accidents and the primary contractor has been cited for dozens of safety violations.

According to The New York Times article, Scott Stinger, the Manhattan Borough president, summed up the situation as follows:

“[W]e sent 100 firefighters in with little water, not enough oxygen and no plan….They have got to shut this down pending a safety review.  I don’t understand why that is so difficult.”

It’s too bad a “safety review” wasn’t done before more people died.  Even better – make sure an effective OH&S management system is put in place.

© ENLAR® Compliance Services, Inc. (2007)

Category: Emergency Preparedness

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