Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Safety Daze

The way I see it, putting yourself in somebody else's workboots isn't just good exercise for the toxic gray sludge under the hard hat - you know, empathy being a splint for the broken heart and a damn fine cauterizing agent for a mind bleeding like an open pipe - you also come to realize that you are not alone in your confusion, mental shortcomings, and perpetual suicidal ideation: there are others worse off than yourself. And if they're not thinking of killing themselves out of shame - if nothing else - they should be.

Here, of course, I'm speaking of management.

Seems injuries at work are on the rise. From my point of view there are two causes of injuries. Human carelessness. Or lack of decent engineering controls. There's also just plain bad luck, but let's leave the voodoo to my wife who is off to the psychic tonight for an appointment so it gives me three hours of peace and quiet and if not some rational time some time that is at least not completely fucking irrational.

Worst accident I seen happened some years back. A Newfie went and managed to lose his leg in an extruding plant. Dropped a cigarette into the mechanical flow of things, stepped into the unguarded and unforeseen nether regions. You know, places where you need to project using any tool from common sense to your imagination. A preheated aluminum bolt, the diameter of a telephone pole nearing 2000 degrees came down on his leg mid thigh, jamming the mechanism and putting a halt to production, not only on his line but plant wide as just about everyone downed tools and came by to see what all the screaming was about and then staying to watch the guy slipping in and out of consciousness pleading, crying, imploring, begging for someone to put a bullet in his head, put him out of his misery.

I went out to my car to oblige him - only had my crossbow, but what the heck - and ended up pucking my guts all over the paramedics as they hauled their stretcher in through the shipping bay.

No one should be made to see that level of trauma, let alone go through it. And never mind me, think of the guy caught in the machine. If I was that guy I'd want a bullet in my head. Or a gold tipped broadhead. Maybe years later I'd be glad I was still alive what with offtrack betting saving me hauling ass on public transit and video lottery terminals now in the hotels and even the most rundown strip joints with wheelchair ramps and all - yes, society has made some advances - but at that moment with my flesh cooking and my bones being turned to meal - I'd want out.

Wouldn't you?

Fortunately, things has improved industrial-wise. Most of the real bad injuries - like death - have been eliminated through off shore outsourcing and the like. We've exported a lot of pain to other places and other peoples. And I really can't think about that too much. My empathy isn't transfuckingnational. Besides, they're used to it.

And so when some schmo down at the plant got cut for fifteen stitches the other day, it was big news. Alarm bells went. Not literally, though there is a traffic light at the employee gate that goes to either yellow or red when an injury occurs, depending on what it costs the company in terms of lost time, outside interference, and liability, just so us children know, something out of the ordinary happened, a defect per million ops. Stray cow.

This was the fourth accident in four months. Never mind that one was on the whack piece machinery I screamed to the horsecock-sucking head of safety about as being a fucking hazard and was asked why I had to be so negative. No, let's fucking ignore that, I'm not the hero of this piece.

Let's not investigate the particular circumstances surrounding the incident. No, let's look at the statistics. It would seem upon doing so that the ratio between recordable incidents (injuries) and near misses (could have beens) was out of whack. It seems that if more near misses had been recorded there would have been less injuries. Right? That make some sense. Right? Corrective action and all that shit. Right? But that wasn't the point.

The point was we needed to increase the number of near misses to better reflect on ourselves as an organization. Four injuries and no near misses that won't do. Better if there'd been five injuries and a death as long as there were a couple of hundred near misses. This is the logic. I kid you not. May as well get the head of scheduling a deck of tarot cards and a dildo for the rest of her time.

And so a week long safety blitz was initiated, by she who loves horse more than men, where we were to record every near miss we witnessed. And, there was/is a prize involved. Personally, I wrote out as many as I could - most involving aborted post meeting suicide attempts - in the time available. I was told by Winny Von Dyke I wasn't taking this seriously.

I tried to see the world through her eyes. But my empathy isn't transdimensional.