Category: Case Study

Introduction

Occupational hazard is a common phenomenon at any workplace. Thus, as it practiced, measures should be put in place to protect employees and customers from any hazard. The occurrence of a hazard is measured in terms of vulnerability, which is the propensity to harm. Such harm extends to physical, mental, social and financial injuries. It is therefore the responsibility of the employer to ensure that a work environment is safe. Officially, governments provide legal guidance through occupation health legislations to guard against such injuries. The laws bind the employer to provide safety measures that reduce vulnerability to hazards. Nevertheless, best practices in business require employers to initiate such practices on their own under ethical responsibilities. The current paper evaluates a fire fighting case study in February 17, 1997 to explore causes of occupational hazards, relevant recommendation and the relevant policy frameworks.

On February 17, 1997, two fighters were responding to a fire succumbed to injuries. One firefighter was seriously injured while the other victim died from asphyxiation. The two were members of a fire company at the scene of the fire incident. They had pulled their water hoses to the door. The two fighters entered the house and fell to the basement where they succumbed to injuries leading to the death of one fire fighter.

Factors that Contributed to the Incident

The main cause of the incident was involvement of District Major in hand on activities of fire maintenance. The main and only role of District Major was to supervise and gather evidence of the occurrences around the fire. The District Major directed the injured and the victim from Engine 6 to proceed to the house while fixing Engine 11. Eight minutes later, he recalled all firefighters. The involvement of the major with Engine 11 caused a distraction since he (gender sensitive) could not monitor the fire fighters from Engine 6. Further, there was no clear flow of instruction at the site on who should have carried out what operations. This was witnessed as fire fighters attempted to open some doors, the District major was withdrawing fighters and a lietutant responding to save the victims (McDonough, Phillips & Twilbeck, 2015; New York State, 2009).

Subsequently, there was no assessment of the fire situation. After confirming that there was nobody in the house, the team proceeded to attack the fire. The fire fighting team did not verify the probable source of the fire. However, the existence of faulty equipment worsened the situation. As the equipment was being repaired, the fire was spreading and eating up the place. Further, equipments were not well coordinated. The positive pressure ventilation system did not realize full potential until charged lines were brought (McDonough, Phillips & Twilbeck, 2015; New York State, 2009).

Finally, the noise from the equipment prevented the other members of the team from hearing the signals of the personal alert safety system, making the system ineffective. Ten minutes is a long period before realizing that a member in disaster management team is missing.

Recommendations

As a safety and health program manager, I would recommend that the District Major should focus on supervising disaster site. This gives them full closure on the events and occurrences within the scene of the disaster. It helps them design a proper response team to a situation. Such approach extends to accessing a disaster situation. Further, the monitory role is enhanced based on the response team. Subsequently, before an incident is reported, the fire fighting team must ensure that all the equipment are functional and their operations optimal. The equipment must be maintained and tested with dummy disasters to check its effectiveness. Similarly, it is ideal for disaster managers to simulate their response practices. In process, it is possible to indentify sub systems that are ineffective such as the personal alert safety system. Consequently, the fire company must purchase more durable self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBAs). Fire fighting can take hours so a ten-minute breathing system is not ideal. Finally, the fire fighter must always be adorned in the personal protection gear such as jacket, helmet and gloves. The gear reduces impact during falls or direct contact with fire.

Relevant Standards and Regulations

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 guide the health and safety concerns of people at work. The Act includes both work activities of employees and potential accidents that might put safety in jeopardy. According to the Act, employers must take appropriate steps to protect people within the work environment. The fire fighting company had the responsibility of providing an oxygen gear to prevent the death of the employee. The Federal Firefighters Fairness Act (2013) provides a framework for compensating fire fighters. The laws states that injuries and illness of fire fighters must be assumed to have come from the fire fighting process. Thus, any other disease or injury to the victim must be related to his course of work.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the management of disasters and emergencies require adequate planning. Planning is also important in the prevention of disasters. However, in management, it is crucial since it depicts the level of damage to property and numbers of causalities during an emergency. For instance, why would a fire fighter get injured or die in a burning house without a single person to be saved? The risk must be evaluated to justify investment in the process. Similarly, equipment used in the management of disasters and accidents must be effective for its tasks. Finally, it is often important to have a designed leader to guide activities of crisis management.

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