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The ultimate safety near miss.

Published 01 Jun 2010

This is a true case but the names of the people have been altered for confidentiality reasons.

Ricky is a 22 year old, working for a contractor using sand blasting equipment.

Ricky had suspected dietary problems and was often tired on the job.

Whilst the employer was processing a first warning under way, Ricky was found to be using his cell phone at work. You may say so what, but here Ricky was inside a large petrol tank on a petrol storage tank farm. An explosion was a real possibility - even from an incoming call.

EAL was asked to direct the disciplinary process which we did.

Ricky admitted using the cell phone all day in the tank, he knew it was contrary to instructions, and understood the severity of his actions. There are signs saying absolutely no cell phone use. (There is another sign saying turn your cell phone off)

Ricky says he knows about the signs.

When asked: Ricky what do you think will happen? Ricky replied I will lose my job? Nothing to add? No.

But here is the punch line..............

Company policy was not up to it. The employer and the site operators were both sitting ducks for prosecution if an explosion had occured.

EAL was asked what should have happened. Answer: New policy is to surrender phone before starting work EVERY day. Emergency contact methods will be given to all staff.
The Site operator is to enforce the new policy too. A full review of cell phone policy is now beginning………. How about you?

The company will also require the surrendering of phones, as this is not being done yet, and an incoming call can trigger an explosion.
Next month's article is on the reasonable use of cell phones.