Saturday, November 29, 2008

Gruesome pictures, nausea and lovely ladies

I've done trillions of training courses at work. Some of them were as follows:

Corporate Culture - I already wrote about that one. Keep it in the blue.

Tagging and isolating level 1:

This is about how isolated items like electrical breakers or mechanical valves should be tagged when they have been isolated, so that some other idiot cannot just walk around and open a valve while you're sitting inside the sewer pipe, or switch on the breaker while you're sitting with your hands on the switchboard terminals while your feet are dangling in the murky water.


After this course, which is only an "awareness" course, I'm officially only "aware" of tagging, and I may not isolate anything myself. I do know what a personal danger tag looks like and I will need to get someone to isolate something on my behalf, and then add my personal tag. I need to remove my personal danger tag on the same day, before I leave, otherwise someone else will have to fill in registers and whatnot.

See, I did learn something. I've worked in the same industry in Africa for 12 years without ever seeing one danger tag. We normally took a piece of scrap paper, and wrote big swear words on them and said "DON'T TOUCH", or "LOS UIT -hakahana, voertsek". Or, if you really wanted nobody to do anything, you'd write "please open this valve". Then you were sure no-one would ever open it until the note was removed.

Electrical safety-something (Level 1, of course):

During this course we were shown some nasty pictures of guys who were fried when doing stupid things on high voltage circuits. I felt very sick and dizzy after this one. I felt the bile rising up in my throat, but because I've been in many African environments that were vomit-inducing, I could fall back on my good African "hands-on" training experience and therefore managed to overcome my motivation to vomit.

I wonder if I'll ever use my expensive Fluke multimeter again. (By the way, according to the lecturer, this is the preferred instrument to use. It was almost like a Fluke propaganda meeting.)

If I understand things correctly, I may not touch anything in a switchboard - I need to have the local electrician there to do it. Another lesson learnt. For 12 years, I've been powering up, wiring, doing terminations, ripping out cables, and I even pulled cables through trenches and dug holes for cables, drilled holes for instrument cables through 250mm thick concrete tower walls, etc...

Not that I have any desire to stick my fingers into switchboards anymore. Not after those photos.

I just wonder what I'll do with all my multimeters. They have not been inspected and tagged by an approved inspector-and-tagger, - also something quite new to me. Even your extension power-lead has to have a tag from an authorised inspector.

Chlorine level 1 - this was a good one:

This was all about chlorine, why we dose our water, and what happens if we don't. Also, what happens when you drink a bottle of Chlorine, and why it could be hazardous to your health. Ah, I can still remember the good old days at school when we built chlorine bombs. My safety training at NamWater was limited to the following: If you recognise the fumes that are similar to the chlorine bomb's familiar smell - get the hell out of wherever you are. And get as high as possible, because chlorine gas is heavier than air.

(As if anything could be lighter than air? - eish)

(If any of my new colleagues are reading this - I'm just kidding, OK - this is South African humour, it's difficult to explain...)

The general safety course to obtain my Blue card:

The guy who presented this course claims to be the guy who originally took the photograph of the idiot who is welding with a plastic bag over his head - the one I sent around on my email joke-list a year ago. Apparently this was somewhere in Asia - Indonesia, I think.

Here we also saw some gruesome photos. Think safety. Think gruesome. Think vomit.

Then came the one about working in cramped spaces. Or rather "Confined Space Entry". And I know, most of my sharp readers will think this is training for small people like jockeys, but it's not. It's about anything that may look as if it could kill you. Don't go there without a permit. Don't do anything without a permit. Don't die without one - the paperwork is just too much for the colleagues you leave behind.

Then I did the JSA course (level1):

When I asked someone what JSA stood for, I got a bad stare from everyone, nearly the same type of stare you'd get in South Africa if you asked who Naas Botha was. Everybody knows this. It's a Job Safety Analysis, you dummy! What I can remember about this course was that the lady who presented it was really good-looking, and so were some of the students. We had a lot of ladies from the OSH branch, and they made it difficult for me to concentrate on the work. People like that should be models or TV presenters - don't come to a workplace where people work with things that may need JSA's. Someone could get killed. And then someone else has to struggle with the paperwork...

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