STOP PRESS!! Have you tried the YouTube Playlist featuring all of my compositions for the TRANSFORMATES? Here it is:
Now I have retired from my day job in the oil business I would like to share with visitors to this site some risk insights that they might not have picked up elsewhere. As with my more ‘fun’ focused articles which you can read in the Alpine Press section I often get my ideas for risk reviews from current topics mentioned in non-English language publications.
Using an approach I developed in my internal audit role I will dig a little deeper into some of these stories to try and understand what are the underlying causes and consequences behind the attention grabbing titles. I have to admit this risk focused investigative approach didn’t make me the oil industry’s most popular auditor but it did help to raise the profile of some very important problem areas.
In my blog I will, from time to time, present a summary of my latest risk reviews with links to the more detailed reports I have prepared on each subject (don’t worry they are all free and you do not have to register to read them!). The full list of my latest risk reviews can be found in the Risk Articles section of this website which can be found by clicking here.
Poisonous Gas From Air Conditioners
Obviously most of us do not expect be poisoned when we turn on our air-conditioning. This is especially the case when the air-conditioning is used in a very confined space like a car.
My report on this subject illustrates one of the major risks manufacturers face when they develop new products or try to enhance the properties of existing ones. In my auditing life one area I would sometimes look at was the control processes for ensuring the quality of jet fuels and lubricants. A mistake when developing new products in this area could result in a major airline catastrophe. As a result you need a zero tolerance culture to try and ensure product quality mistakes can not occur. For a Jumbo jet full of passengers any residual safety risk is simply unacceptable.
To eliminate any residual risk when developing or improving critical safety products it is important to try and identify all the potential problems that could be associated with their use. In particular you need to brain storm for any unexpected or unintended risk causes and consequences especially under extreme or harsh operating conditions. In my report I describe a current product development initiative from the auto industry which is trying to make vehicle air-conditioners more environmentally friendly. The report describes some potentially serious unexpected consequences of using a new coolant product.
Many vehicle air-conditioners over the last few years have used a coolant which was efficient but placed an unacceptable burden on the environment. To deal with this problem and comply with new more stringent environmental regulations car manufacturers have started to introduce an alternative coolant which can be used without needing to change vehicle equipment or manufacturing processes. This alternative coolant is environmentally much better than its predecessor.
My concern about this development is that everyone appears to be rushing to introduce the new coolant before it has been comprehensively investigated. In particular testing of the new product under the extreme conditions which could occur when a vehicle is involved in an accident is still incomplete. Some recent research carried out at the University of Munich, and also by the manufacturer of Mercedes cars indicates a serious risk that under certain conditions the new coolant might give rise to extremely dangerous toxic and corrosive gases if released in a vehicle collision.
If you would like to understand more about this subject please read the article by clicking on the following title:
Currently car manufacturers and the relevant authorities have different views on the suitability of this coolant and many new ‘approved’ vehicles are already on the road. Read the article and decide for yourself – especially if you are contemplating buying a new car.
On-line Carcinogenic Shoes
Buying things on-line has for many of us become a way of life (and in some cases it is almost an addiction). The competition to supply on-line is intense and internet retailers are constantly trying to find ways to reduce their costs. Established branded products normally charge a premium. In part this is to pay for having appropriate product quality processes in place to protect their brand image and reputation. These processes need to exist all the way from the raw materials’ supplies to the company that stores and delivers the product to the end-user.
Independent on-line sellers are clearly envious of the profit margins obtained by branded product manufacturers and are keen to take advantage of this. One way of doing this is by introducing their own-name products. However the pressure on profit margins means that sometimes resellers do not invest adequately in the quality control of their raw materials, manufacturing processes or distribution networks. As a result the product quality and the end-user may suffer. The example in my report concerns the quality of on-line shoes.
The shoes of the company involved were the subject of a random testing by the authorities in Germany. They were found to have chemicals in them which were potentially harmful when coming into contact with the human body. To learn more about this please click on the title below:
As with many products sold on-line this is not just a local or national issue. These products are sold internationally. If an international on-line retailer is supplying contaminated products these could end-up almost anywhere in the world where that company is prepared top deliver.
Drug Company Turns Its Back On Leukaemia Sufferers
Coming from much loved big-oil I am only too aware of the importance that ethical behaviour can have on a company’s reputation and its potential to impact to the bottom line results and overall value. One of our challenges in auditing is to make sure that short term considerations do not get in the way of correct ethical behaviour.
I was therefore rather disappointed to learn that the manufacturer of a drug which had for many years benefited leukaemia sufferers had decided to withdraw the product so it could be re-introduced under a new name for a new more lucrative market – at a vastly increased price per gram.
You can read the details by clicking on the title below:
I am sure most of us appreciate that it costs money to develop new drugs especially since the introduction of a new drug can take many years. However I do not believe this argument can be applied to the withdrawal of an already successful and useful cancer treatment. In fact it is still far from certain how useful this drug will be in its new much larger Multiple Sclerosis market. Prior to the decision to ‘drop’ the leukaemia market the company was purchased by a much larger drugs group. Perhaps securing post merger ‘synergies’ rather than recovering research costs, played a significant part in the decision to change the business focus? I will let you judge whether this was appropriate ethical behaviour.
I would like to dedicate this week’s blog to Ulrike and Astrid and all of my Safety and Financial Control colleagues in Bochum (Germany) to try and make up for the fact that I was unable to get over to see them just before my retirement. Good luck in keeping Germany safe from those nasty risks.
If you found this article interesting you may like to read some of my other recent business risk reviews which are listed below (just click on the title):
Pandemic Risk Management Article by Chris Duggleby (February 2012) (or ‘How to Prepare for the Consequences of Microbial Sex!‘)
When I produce new business risk related articles these will be published under the risk articles section of my website which can be found using the link here. If this kind of information is of interest to you please visit the site again or add http://www.chrisduggleby.com to your browser favourites.