Posts Tagged ‘health and safety’

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Contract killers and Odessa police response

October 2, 2011

At the end of June a contract killing occurred somewhere around  Baranitsy, Zakarpattia, the alleged offender being a Russian with links to Moldova who was believed to be hiding out in Odessa.

Contract killings here are not exactly unheard of, normally business or politics related (as the two are often inseparable)  but they are also certainly no longer the norm either.  They have become extremely rare incidents thankfully.

Anyway, I shall spare you the details of the Baranitsy incident and fast forward to a few days ago when the Odessa traffic police stopped a car containing the alleged offender and two others.  The net result was two Odessa policemen dead, four injured as well as one injured suspect that was shot, who left the scene with the other two.

Yesterday, the Odessa police caught up with these men hiding in the centre of Odessa.

Now undoubtedly these men had already proved to be armed and dangerous having killed two policemen and injured four others, not to mention the killing in Baranitsy by at least one of them.  Needless to say, the police response was going to be robust when they were found.

The outcome of the video link above is that two suspects will not be troubling the Ukrainian court system with a trial.  The third, I am not certain about his fate at the time of posting.

The loss of any life has to be regretted however I am not going to pretend the outcome would have been any different given the recent history and actions of the suspects.  It is highly unlikely they would have “come quietly”.  The police were quite right to go directly to the top of the threat assessment model and anticipate armed resistance.

In case you are wondering, the UK uses a threat assessment that runs along the lines of CS gas, baton/Asp and then firearms in situations were force over and above man-handling is deemed necessary.  (In effect, choke them (with CS gas), stroke them (baton) and ultimately smoke them (shoot)).  Of course there is no requirement to work up the risk assessment model in the UK, police can jump in at whatever level they feel appropriate in the circumstances.

There are though some rules in relation to firearms officer and negotiators.

To stick with the basics, never fire from or at a moving vehicle as the ricochet from a windscreen may hit innocent Mrs Smith down the road.  Fully automatic weapons are an absolute no-no as there is an unnecessary element of  risk that comes with the lack of aimed shots and collateral damage to Mrs Smith once again.

Rolling containment until a fixed containment can be effected.  In this case in Odessa, the suspects had barricaded themselves in a building and were thus static.

2 shots (double tap) at distances of 15 meters of closer, single aimed shots at 15 meters or more.

Feature off the building white, black,green and red. (White always being designated as the front, even if in fact it is not technically the front of any structure.)  White 1.1 being a bay window on the left of the door.  1.2 being the door, 1.3 being a window to the right of the door etc.  Next floor is 2.1 etc.

“Light on white 1.1” over the radio lets everybody know a light has come on in the bay window on the white side for armed officers and the command post who cannot see white 1.1.   You get the picture.  Its not rocket science, its not a secret but is standard and tried and tested practice that is effective.  In the meantime, some poor (trained) soul gets lumbered with being the negotiator with those inside.  (The negotiators course is actually an excellent course it must be said.)

What has all this irrelevant UK protocol got to do with the Odessa incident?  The answer is Mrs Smith and collateral damage when considering the video in the link.

Fully automatic Kalashnikov’s being fired from roof tops into the street below?  Lobbing grenades?  That is a military solution aimed at winning fire-fights, converting bullets to brass and keeping heads down whilst you cunningly move your people to a position of advantage, regardless of Mrs Smith and collateral damage.

Now there as yet, have been no reports of bystander Mrs Smith or others suffering as a result of the tactics employed yesterday in Odessa and now it is unlikely any will come to light.  No doubt there were cordons keeping the public out and the suspects in.

If fire was returned there are probably bullet holes in windows and ceilings in the apartment block upon who’s roof the police in the video were stood.  Minor cosmetics I will grant you, particularly if no rounds went ricocheting off in bizarre directions unexpectedly during the execution of this incident by the planners.  The end result was seemingly satisfactory as far as Mrs Smith/collateral damage is concerned and an anticipated if not ideal outcome as far as the suspects arrived at.

Nevertheless, risk assessment?  Fully automatic Kalashnikov fire from the roofs of apartment buildings, which looking at the video can hardly be classed as coming close to aimed shots with minimal risk of collateral damage?  Wouldn’t it be good to see the debrief notes as to why that happened?  There is after all, a reason why snipers are routinely put on roof-tops and not a Terminator wannabe.

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Toxic towns – Remember Kalush?

September 20, 2011

Well dear readers, do you remember me writing about Kalush almost two years ago?

It was indeed when I was writing in a somewhat more “folksy” style which reading it now, I am certainly not that good at. Fortunately I have an audience who seem to be very forgiving and far more interested in content rather than form.

Anyway, Kalush and the toxic man-made nightmare so ably raised to public attention by then-President Yushenko during his last week in office, has not been forgotten. At least it has not been forgotten as far the the citizens of Kalush are concerned or indeed President Yushenko’s successor or the new administration.

20.9 tonnes of hexachlorobenzene have actually been removed a few days ago and by now will have been moved by road to a disposal site in Poland. A total of 7500 tonnes of this monstrous material is due to be removed this year, all headed for Poland. Last year a total of 8500 tonnes made its way to the UK for disposal.

By the end of the year, the Ukrainian Environment Minister expects 60% of the hexachlorobenzene at Kalush to have been removed from Ukraine and by the end of next year, the entire 22,800 tonnes will have been disposed of outside Ukrainian borders.

Now I could question the cost effectiveness of external disposal as opposed to constructing a specialist facility to dispose of it within Ukraine, but certainly as far as Kalush is concerned, there is a finite amount of this toxic nasty to deal with and really given the inaction of dealing with it prior to and since independence, the fact it is being dealt with should be welcomed.

One still wonders however, given the amount of toxic nasties of various degrees of nastiness and quantity inherited from the Soviet era in Ukraine, whether an internal specialist disposal site would not have been a more cost effective strategy. Then again, who would welcome such a specialist site in their region? Are we seeing the rise of NYMBY’s in Ukraine or given the memory and legacy of Chernobyl, a very wise decision where risk management and external disposal outweighs the costs?

Whatever, it is pleasing to see the matter is eventually been addressed with action and not words.

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Health and Safety in Ukraine – More mining deaths

July 30, 2011

In yet another example of poor health and safety in Ukraine, it seems scores of men have died in two separate incidents in Ukrainian mines.

Needless to say, all attention will be focused on the issues surrounding mines and mining in Ukraine, and one wonders how the Chinese, who are quite likely to buy several Ukrainian mines, are viewing the latest incidents (of which there are many each year).

Now Chinese health and safety may not be perfect, it suffers its own mining tragedies, but there are quite likely to be inherent problems in owning mines on foreign soil when it comes to incidents of this nature. Undoubtedly their acquisitions will reduce incidents, not necessarily due to any concern for the people working in the mines, but upgraded and modern equipment, by its nature when used by competent and trained people, will reduce the risk to people. I believe that in the incidents mentioned in the link, at least one mine is privately owned by MetInvest, part of the Rinnat Akhmetov empire.

There is also the cost issue of buying, fitting and using expensive equipment to subsequently damage or destroy it, irrelevant of human cost by way of injury or death, do to slipshod and poor health and safety.

It is of course quite easy to condemn the health and safety conditions in Ukraine on a universal scale across all areas of life when putting them in comparison to other nations. Writing as an IOSH and SMSTS qualified person, I can say with some confidence that from what I have personally witnessed in the years I have been here, whilst deaths and serious injury are almost always reported, less serious and minor accidents inherently are not. There are then what are known as “near misses” that would be reported in the UK for example, where nobody was injured at all through luck rather than judgment, in order for those in charge of H&S at that location to correct the situation after investigation of the circumstances.

To be fair, certainly to the major construction companies in Ukraine, I have witnessed a major improvement over the years, but these are privately owned entities where the authorities have little problem in making examples of owners and management should something go wrong. The same cannot be said of the smaller companies I would add.

A completely different set of circumstances to those where many mines are still owned by the State where more often than not, nobody is held accountable for incidents at such premises.

I have never seen or heard of a proactive H&S inspection in Ukraine. They are always reactive as they will be with regards to these mining incidents. The problem of course, is H&S inspectors are government employees and thus are easily influenced to leave State owned organisations alone.

The next problem is they are obviously underpaid being State employees and therefore, such is the culture of Ukraine, happy to accept payments to turn a blind eye even with privately owned organisations or sufficiently fudge an investigation to avoid liability for those with money.

The acceptance of money to avoid inspections or fudge investigations is only part of the problem. The whole concept of health and safety is to avoid deaths, injuries of any severity and “near misses”. The lessons lost and not communicated to relevant industry participants and fellow inspectors by following this path can be, and probably has been, catastrophic. The learning curve that should grow with every investigation and reported incident simply does not occur.

Nobody is in denial that there has been little or no investment or upgrades to the Ukrainian commodities industries since the collapse of the USSR. Given that is the case, few can expect a zero incident rate. No country on the planet has a zero incident rate with regards to health and safety.

The American OSHA system of health and safety is, in comparison to the UK IOSH system, nowhere near as flexible to individual circumstance and would probably close or suspend work at far more Ukrainian industrial and commercial units than than that of IOSH, which is more geared to solve the problem on a bespoke and more timely basis. That said, either system if rigorously enforced in Ukraine would have a dramatic effect upon accident statistics with, undeniably, an affect on profit margins, at least initially.

Nevertheless, what cost to the image of Ukraine and knock on effects to DFI, compared to a national health and safety clamp down similar to those that Ukraine has now voluntarily entered into with Ensreg for nuclear facilities in the wake of the Japanese incident?

Will it take a disaster of such scale to address this issue in respect of State owned producers?

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