Archive for the ‘safety’ Category

Bangkok Club Fire On New Year’s Reveals “Host Of Safety Violations” in “Shady Entertainment World”

January 27, 2009

The lead singer of a band called Burn has been charged with starting a Bangkok nightclub fire that killed 65 partygoers on new year’s eve by launching fireworks from the stage.

By Thomas Bell in Bangkok
Telegraph (UK)

The tragedy in the crowded Santika nightclub exposed the dismal safety standards of Bangkok’s shady entertainment scene. An official inquiry into the incident found a catalogue of safety failures and that the nightclub was part-owned by a senior police officer who allegedly protected it from official scrutiny.

Shortly after midnight a blaze engulfed the crowded building with around 1000 people trapped inside and only one marked exit. The fire killed 65 people and injured more than 200 others, including 4 Britons.

“Eyewitnesses and evidence points to fireworks as the cause of the fire at Santika pub, because the fireworks hit the club ceiling and the fire broke out 30 seconds after the fireworks were lit,” said General Jongrak Jutanont, deputy national police chief on Tuesday.

He said police had arrested Saravuth Ariya, 28, the lead singer of Burn.

“He was seen carrying fireworks into the pub and lighting them during the countdown,” said Gen Jongrak.

Mr Saravuth is the sixth person to be charged in connection with the fire. The others – all owners and managers of the club – have been charged with causing death by negligence and admitting under age drinkers.

Read the rest:


Band, Nightclub In Rhode Island Kills 100 With Pyrotechnics

From the Boston Globe in 2003….


Hudson River Miracle: “Find That Bird”

January 17, 2009

It’s a breathtaking story of heroism, terror and prayer.

Or it is the story of a guy doing his job.  And a bunch of passengers scared to death and clinging to life.

It is a story of unexpected, never before seen disaster.

Or it is the story of just another bird meeting just another aircraft in the sky — something that happens thousands of times each year.

We love drama, excitement and life and death challenges — usually if there is a happy ending and we ourselves are never at risk.

I don’t mean to demean for a second the heroics and great work of all the boat and craft crews, rescue swimmers, flight crew, pilot and everyone else  — and I’ll be the first to make popcorn for the “Made for TV Movie.”

But I do find myself cautioning myself: and maybe to honor all that do their jobs day in and day out.  And most never get a medal or keys to the city.

And there is still the NTSB and FAA investigation — a task that goes into every detail which often can mean reconstucting the twisted metal of a crashed aircraft.

We already know the order has been given to “find those engines” at the bottom of the Hudson.

If we get too carried away the made for TV movie will feature a FAA guy shouting, “Find that bird.”

This posted 22 January 2009:
Bird Found in Miracle Hudson River Crash-Landing


Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger III, 57, became the hero of the moment and for me a lesson, and a monument, to life.

“Miracle on the Hudson” Pilot: Older Pros Sure Worth Having

In this image taken from the website of Safety Reliability Methods, ... 
In this image taken from the website of Safety Reliability Methods, Inc., US Airways pilot Chelsey B. Sullenberger III is shown. An official speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation was still ongoing, identified Sullenberger as the pilot of US Airways Flight 1549, which crash landed in the Hudson River in New York Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009, as Chelsey B. Sullenberger III. (AP Photo/Safety Reliability Methods, Inc.)

A police officer (R) and member of the coast guard stand near ... 
A police officer (R) and member of the coast guard stand near the wing of the US Airways airplane which crashed in the Hudson River, where the aircraft is secured and awaiting removal, in New York, January 16, 2009.REUTERS/Chip East (UNITED STATES)


Birds a Problem for Aircraft

By James Bernstein

Birds and airplanes may both fly, but they do not live in harmony in the skies. The bird strike believed to have been responsible for Thursday’s US Airways emergency landing is rare, aviation experts said. | Video | Photo gallery | Experts: Crashes more survivable recently | Hudson River hero is ex-Air Force pilot | Investigation begins

But when birds — even small birds in flocks — get caught in an aircraft engine, which typically runs at 10,000 revolutions per minute, the result can be disaster.

“The blades of the engines disintegrate into pieces,” said Ross Aimer, a test pilot for Boeing Co., the giant commercial airplane manufacturer.

The pilot knows immediately the plane has been struck by birds. “There’s going to be a loud bang and usually a smell” of burning birds, said Aimer, also a consultant for Aviation Experts, a consultant and media-relations company in San Clemente, Calif.

Experts estimate that about 25,000 Canada geese live in New York City and on Long Island, with about 25,000 more migrating through the area each year. Rob Bennett for The New York Times

Of course, what aviation experts refer to as “bird strikes” do not always cause crashes. But the FAA estimates that in the last two decades, bird strikes have caused more than 200 aviation fatalities worldwide. They generally occur near airports, whose large open spaces provide fowl of all types with places to rest and feed, the experts said.

Big problems for New York

Birds pose a particular problem at Kennedy and LaGuardia airports because they are near marshy areas that are home to thousands of birds, the experts said. And the airports are along the Atlantic Flyway, a migratory route that stretches from Maine to Florida, said Peggy Caraher, publicity chairwoman for the Eastern Long Island Audubon Society, Inc.

“The problem is we’re always building along the shorelines,” Caraher said. “That’s where these birds are. So they relocate to other open spaces.”

The FAA estimates that about 90 percent of all bird strikes are at or close to airports.

At LaGuardia and other airports, maintenance crews go to work at dawn, using noisemakers and flares to scare off birds, the experts said. “They’ve tried everything, from shooting cannons to bringing in birds of prey,” Aimer said.

The thunderous jet engines, though, are usually the best way to get rid of gulls, geese or sparrows.

“The key is to dissuade as many birds as possible from wanting to be in the area,” said Stuart Rossell, U.S. operations manager for Plattsburgh-based Falcon Environmental Services, which does bird control at Kennedy.

“JFK is the leader in proactive bird management,” said Rossell, of Murrieta, Calif. “Hopefully, this will be a wake-up call for the aviation industry.”

Frank Ayers, chairman of the flight training department at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., said that airplane engines are tested and retested for bird strikes. But, he said, jet engines are unable to survive a hit by large birds such as geese or flocks of birds.

“They can survive a small sparrow,” Ayers said. “But even that will produce some changes in the power output.”

Peter R. Leffe, an aviation accident investigator in Malibu, Calif., said when a bird hits an engine, its blades break into sharp projectiles, which rip into the cowling that covers the engine, usually tearing it apart.

“The blades are about an inch high and an inch square,” Leffe said. “They’re very brittle.”


From The New York Times

For years, airport officials have removed shrubs and trees that attract birds. They have tried to scare them away with music, pyrotechnics and cannons. They have even raided birds’ nests and culled the adults with shotguns.
Still, birds, often geese, sometimes end up in plane engines, causing inconvenience, or worse: They are a leading suspect in the nearly disastrous ditching of a US Airways jet on Thursday.

“The cause is still under investigation,” said Stephen Sigmund, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. But he said preliminary reports indicated that Flight 1549 was several miles out from La Guardia Airport, at 3,000 to 4,000 feet, when the pilot radioed that there had been a bird strike.

The proximity of the plane to Rikers Island, home to a large colony of noisy, prolific and seemingly indefatigable Canada geese, suggests that the birds could have been involved. “Certainly if they were geese, the birds would have been large enough to do considerable damage,” said Peter Capainolo, a senior scientific assistant at the American Museum of Natural History who has worked with teams that have tried to scare birds away from airport runways.

New York is a high-risk region for bird strikes, with three major airports close to active….

Read the rest:

Total Cell Phone Ban in Cars?

January 12, 2009

This should be a “no-brainer.”  Experts day driving while using a cell phone is about the same as driving drunk.

But no-brainers of the world still insist upon doing both…and fight for their right to do so….


Eveybody knows drinking and driving is a no-no. Now, a national safety group wants to get us to look at using cell phones while driving in the same way.

The National Safety Council is calling for a total ban on cell phone use while driving. And the council wants the ban to include the use of hands-free attachments.

Ninety percent of the nation's 300 million residents have cell phone accounts, CTIA says.

Ninety percent of the nation’s 300 million residents have cell phone accounts, CTIA says.

It’s the first time the group has taken such a position. The council’s head, Janet Froetscher, says using a cell phone behind the wheel makes the risk of having a crash four times greater than for those who don’t call and drive.

She says people have gotten used to the idea of taking the car keys away from those who have been drinking and it’s now “time to take the cell phone away.”

No state currently bans all cell phone use while driving. However, six states and the District of Columbia forbid the use of hand-held cell phones behind the wheel.

On the Net:
National Safety Council site:–driving.aspx

CTIA-The Wireless Association site:

Five die in China chemical plant explosion

January 3, 2009

At least five people were killed in an explosion at a chemical plant in east China, state media reported Saturday.

The blast happened in Wucheng County in Shandong province on Thursday afternoon and killed one person on the spot, injuring 13 others, the official Xinhua news agency said, quoting government sources in the county.

Four others — all migrant workers — died later in hospital, Xinhua said.


An investigation has been launched into the cause of the blast.

China’s work safety record is notoriously bad. Thousands of people die every year in mines, factories and on construction sites, according to official sources.

At least five people have been killed in an explosion at a chemical ... 
At least five people have been killed in an explosion at a chemical plant in east China, state media has reported.(AFP/Xinhua)

Police Giving Goodies, Condoms To Drunks, Party Makers

December 20, 2008

Police forces across the country have started to give “goodie bags” containing condoms, flip-flops and lollipops to drunk revellers to counter the ill-effects of binge drinking.

By Christopher Hope, Whitehall Editor
The Telegraph (UK)
Critics said the gifts, costing tens of thousands of pounds, appeared to “reward” people for drinking too much and causing anti-social behaviour in town centres.

Forces in North Wales, Sussex and West Yorkshire have already started to hand out the freebies to drunk revellers.

The plastic bags typically contain bottles of water, lollipops, flip-flops, and condoms, as well as tips on information on units of alcohol and a warning about the dangers of drink driving.

The latest campaign will see nearly 1,600 bags – split evenly between men and women and costing a total of over £2,000 – given out between now and New Year. It was launched on Friday night by Sussex police and is aimed at 18 to 24 year olds.

Holly Margetts, a violent crime reduction officer at Sussex Police, said: “We are encouraging people to drink responsibly and take some simple measures to ensure they stay safe.

“These goodie bags are our Christmas present to people enjoying nights out in the Horsham district.

“We hope that they’ll take note of the important messages and take some simple measures to ensure they stay safe.”

A number of police forces are now using gifts and presents to counter a rise in violence and anti-social behaviour after licensing rules were relaxed in November 2005.

In Llandudno, police are distributing bags containing personal safety alarms, condoms and bottles of water while in Huddersfield police have set up a van to sell flip-flops, condoms and sweets to revellers.

Last month, it emerged that another force, Devon & Cornwall, was giving flip-flops to women who may have trouble walking in high heels after a night out.

Police in Bolton have also started to hand out free orange and blue bubble blowers, which double as pens, to stop revellers picking fights as they pour out of pubs and bars.

Read the rest:

China: Poorly Made Products Invade Auto Parts

December 20, 2008

Child restraints that may come apart in an impact. Fuses that could catch fire when overloaded. Tires susceptible to tread separation.

Those are some of the dangers American consumers face as Chinese manufacturers increase the number of automotive parts they are sending to the United States, according to consumer and safety advocates. They parallel problems with some other products from China ranging from medicine to pet food to children’s toys.

The complexity of today’s cars creates many possibilities for problems with imported parts: tire valves that break and let air escape; replacement window glass that does not meet the standards for tempered glass; high-intensity discharge headlight conversions that don’t meet federal standards.

There are so many automotive products coming in from China that American safety officials can’t keep track of them, said Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety.

By Christopher Jensen
The New York Times

auto parts
Above: Flaws in auto parts produced in China are raising concerns among safety advocates. Above, a transmission parts producer in Nanchang. (Adrian Bradshaw/European Pressphoto Agency)

Mr. Ditlow has been researching recalls of Chinese auto parts in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s records. Those recalls are now posted on the safety center’s Web site.

Mr. Ditlow said his review convinces him that too many Chinese companies are unfamiliar with — or don’t care about — safety standards in the United States and thus don’t meet them.

For consumers, that means automotive equipment made in China is less likely to comply with safety standards than the same product made in the United States, Mr. Ditlow said.

“The companies in North America know that process,” he said.

Sean Kane is the director of Safety Research & Strategies, a consulting firm. He worried that consumers think there is more government oversight of automotive equipment coming from China than actually exists.

Dan Smith, associate administrator for enforcement at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, says one factor causing these problems is the speed at which China has industrialized.

“It is kind of like their Industrial Revolution happened in a quarter of the time ours did,” he said. “Therefore I think quality control measures need to be emphasized to the extreme in their products.”

Read the rest:

London 2012 Olympics ‘Vulnerable to Terrorist Attack’

December 15, 2008

John Patten, a former Home Office minister and an advisor to the British Olympic Association, has warned that inadequate security procedures have left London 2012 venues vulnerable to terrorist attack.

By Paul Kelso
The Telegraph (UK)
Patten, who was a Cabinet minister in the last Conservative government and served as Northern Ireland secretary said that the Olympic Park site in east London is already vulnerable to terrorists who could plant smart bombs in the foundations of venues currently under construction.

Writing in the latest edition of The Spectator, Patten, who is a member of the BOA’s advisory board, claims that well-placed sources have told him the Olympic project is suffering from a lack of security planning.

Patten claims that the acrimonious departure of Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, who was overseeing Olympic security before he sued the force claiming racial equality, has hindered the project.

London 2012 'vulnerable to terrorist attack'

Centre of attraction: an artist’s impression of the London 2012 stadium now under construction and which could be vulnerable to attack

He also suggests that the key agencies involved in organising security are bickering over who takes the lead role, undermining confidence in the entire project.

“In an age of determined and technologically sophisticated incremental terrorism, the Met and the Security Services must overcome everything from highly unfortunate public rows over employment discrimination affecting key officers involved to more private inter-agency rivalries,” Patten writes.

“Forget about policing crowds in 2012, pipework and brickwork is being laid now which is vulnerable to smart devices that can lurk latent until 2012. At least one person from that world tells me that there is no real integrated concept of operations yet. Someone or somebody must provide that focus and work with a semi-detached Home Secretary.”

Patten’s observations, part of a wide-ranging critique of the project, will fuel concerns already expressed that security planning is behind schedule.

Earlier this year, the Public Accounts Committee warned that security master-planning for the project was behind schedule.

The Home Office is working on a strategy document and had planned to put it to the Olympic board before the end of the year. It is expected to unveil its plans in the new year.

When questioned on the issue by The Daily Telegraph last month, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said she was satisfied that the total security budget of £838 million would be sufficient to cover the final bill, but declined to comment on details of the plan.

Read the rest:

Vietnam: Traffic Deaths Down

December 15, 2008

“There is no simpler message — helmets save lives.”

The World Health Organization said Monday that Vietnam‘s mandatory helmet law helped save more than 1,000 lives since it was introduced a year ago but that more loopholes need to be fixed.

Monday marked exactly one year since the government required all motorcyclists to wear helmets.

There were 1,400 fewer road traffic fatalities and 2,200 fewer serious injuries in the year ending October 2008 compared to the same period a year previous, the WHO said, citing a report by the National Traffic Safety Committee.

Nearly 13,000 road deaths were recorded last year, one of the world’s highest rates per 100,000 with the majority of accidents involving the ubiquitous motorbike, which is the country’s main mode of transportation.

“Thanks to the introduction of mandatory helmet laws there are more people alive today to enjoy time with their family and look forward to Tet celebrations,” Jean-Marc Olive, WHO representative in Vietnam said in a statement. Tet is the Lunar New Year festival which starts on Jan. 26.

“The alternative does not bear thinking about. There is no simpler message — helmets save lives,” he said.

WHO praised the Vietnamese government for its recent decision to give the police power to fine motorcycle riders and passengers who do not correctly fasten their helmets.

If a helmet is not fastened, police will consider this “non-wearing” and the rider and passenger can be fined up to 200,000 dong ($12).

From the Associated Press

Above: Before the helmet law

WHO said it is also working with the government to develop a law that penalizes adults who allow children to ride motorcycles without proper helmet protection.

Currently, children under 16 years of age, or the adults that are responsible for them, cannot be financially penalized for not wearing a helmet.

Vietnam: Almost One Million Children Die Annually from Accidents

December 10, 2008

Simple things like seat belts, childproof medicine caps and fences around pools could help prevent up to half of the 2,000 accidental deaths of children that happen each day around the world, UN officials said Wednesday (10 Dec).

More than 800,000 children die each year from burns, drowning, car accidents, falls, poisoning and other accidents, with the vast majority of those deaths occurring in developing countries, according to experts and a report released Wednesday by the World Health Organization and UNICEF.


Babies are held by their mothers at Tho Ha village in the northern ... 
Babies are held by their mothers at Tho Ha village in the northern province of Bac Ninh. Officials in Communist Vietnam alarmed by a new baby boom are to crack down on couples having more than two children, family planning chiefs said on Thursday.(AFP/Hoang Dinh Nam)

Tens of millions more suffer injuries that often leave them disabled for life, said the report which was launched at a meeting of global health experts in Hanoi. The World Report on Child Injury Prevention 2008 does not include injuries caused by domestic violence.

The problem is most acute in Africa and Southeast Asia, but no country is immune, conference participants said, issuing an urgent call for action.

“The price of failure is high,” said Margaret Chan, the director-general of the World Health Organization, speaking in a videotape shown at the conference. “On current estimates, unintentional injuries claim the lives of around 830,000 children worldwide every year.”

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China Finally Targets, Exposes Fake Drug Makers

December 10, 2008

China, beset by food and drug safety scandals, has blacklisted dozens of websites for making false claims about traditional Chinese medicine, state media said on Wednesday.

The health scares, including the addition of melamine, used in making plastics, to milk and baby formula, have prompted many countries to close their markets to Chinese food and drugs, and Beijing is trying to restore the reputation of its exports with a quality drive.

The 74 websites, most of them targeting Chinese consumers, sell drugs for high blood pressure, diabetes and tumours. Some feature testimonials from western doctors and medical companies.

Traditional Chinese medicine is widely used in Asia and could become more integrated in western national health systems, the World Health Organisation said last month.

Many of the Web sites, some featuring photos of nurses clad in white lab coats and gleaming hospitals, are still accessible and selling their “cures,” despite the ban.

Only websites licensed by China State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) are authorised to sell drugs online to individuals.

“So far, only 10 websites across China have been issued with the licence,” Xinhua quoted Yan Jiangying, spokeswoman for the SFDA, as saying.

The state-owned Xinhua news agency pointed out on Wednesday that the sites could be shut down by the government, but had not been. China’s internet police have broad powers to block or shut any sites deemed to have subversive or pornographic content.

(Reporting by Beijing newsroom; Editing by Lucy Hornby at Reuters)