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Problems in Handover Process

In continuous process operations, maintaining continuity between shifts is important. With regards to that fact, there are several issues that become important in order to maintain safe continuity of the job. The most important one is communication. If a single responsibility is handled by a single person, communication would not be important because everything will be continued by the same person in the next day/shift. However, if a job is maintained by a group of people working on shifts, the issue of communication becomes crucial (Lardner, 1992).

In places like offshore oil and gas facilities, communication and coordination are important for people working their shifts. Within those facilities, continuity is maintained across shifts through shift changeover. The activity generally consists of three important stages: Preparation Outgoing personnel usually perform several activities to prepare for the incoming personnel. This generally include preparing the necessary data and information to brief the next shift (Lardner, 1992) Shift Handover

In this step, outgoing and incoming personnel communicate to exchange relevant and important information. There are various issues that should be considered within this step. However, the main consideration should be to ensure the safety and affectivity of work by performing accurate and reliable exchange of important

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information between personnel of different shifts (Lardner, 1992). Cross checking information This activity is performed by the incoming personnel because they need to be sure that everything is in place as they assume responsibility of the task. (Lardner, 1992)

Despite the fact that no one has not yet credibly defined specific reasons for the higher rate of accidents near shift changeovers, the existence of ‘unfinished work’ between shifts has been considered as an additional hazard in industries with continuous process. Some studies reported increased rate of accident near shift changeover. Furthermore, the highest incidence occurred at the commencement of the shift. Three major incidents were reported to result 20 deaths, 35 injuries and ? 46 million worth of damage. There are five known published incidents caused by failure of proper communication at shift handover.

Furthermore, these reported accidents are suspected to be only ‘the tip of the ice burg’ of numerous unreported incidents following shift changeovers (Leavit & Mueller, 1962). In order to describe properly about the problems that might occur within the process of shift handover, I will describe several well known accidents caused by miscommunication in handover process. The Sutherland Fatality In 1987, a platform operator pleaded guilty to a prosecution under the Health and Safety at Work Act, in relation to the incident that caused an offshore contractor’s rigger to be fatally injured while preparing to crane lift a motor.

It was concluded that the lack of adequate communication and information exchange on the night before that caused the fatal accident (Health and Safety Executive, 1990). Injuries During Offshore Maintenance Another example of serious injuries that happened due to lack of proper communication was about a man who was seriously injured while repairing a valve in a high pressure line. In short, the previous shift left a message to inform the out-of ordinary circumstances in repairing the specific valve. However, the message was not passed on to the next shift, causing faults in managing pressure within the pipes.

The mounting pressure caused a violent blow out which caused a permanently head injury to a personnel (Health and Safety Executive, 1994). The Sellafield Beach Incident The BNFL Sellafield Works mistakenly dump highly active materials to the sea in November 1983. Within the Sellafield Beach incident, there were two important lessons to be taken. First, waste material should not be recorded as their origins, but rather as their nature. Misreading could happen easier if the materials in possession are noted as ‘from container A’ or ‘from container B’ rather than if materials are noted as ‘hazardous material’ or ‘low level effluent’.

The former method was the one causing personnel of the BNFL Sellafield Works to mistakenly discharged radioactive waste liquor to the sea. Second, there should be an establishment of a common procedure for handover between shifts at all managerial and supervisory levels. Subsequent safety audit of the BNFL Sellafield Works found that plant manager’s responsibilities were only outlined by a statement of objectives rather than a clear procedure of proper handover (Health and Safety Executive, 1986).

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