Shock Tactics Work!



A few months ago, I had the absolute pleasure of attending a reunion of my Mechanical Engineering Class – a terrific night’s reminiscing, plus a drink or two taken. Certainly an evening I’d like to repeat!

What was startling however was the proportion of the ‘Class of ‘81’ who had not gone on to pursue life-long careers in Engineering. Many had been lost along the way to the motor trade, teaching, armed forces, etc. and – in the most unlikely outcome conceivable to us all - the class tearaway had allegedly become a Policeman!

The affable group present however appeared to have taken best advantage of our exceptional training.

In regaling each other with stories from our time at college, recalling the pranks and frankly questionable extra-curricular activities that would be frowned upon in these modern times, there was one aspect of our training that none of us had forgotten – the first week’s near-Xrated ‘public information films’ that were shamelessly used to scare the bejesus out of everyone!

Light years before the modern-day, animated and hugely sanitized ‘Dumb Ways to Die’ videos, this genre’s general theme was an ever-depleting number of ‘real’ folk viciously bumped off through a series of gory work-place accidents. The one with the long-haired lad and the pillar drill was largely responsible for me dispensing with my ‘greebo’ hairstyle.

I remember too the newspaper clippings the lecturers gleefully displayed about folk meeting grisly ends. Also a few days at the local Fire Station that instilled a lifelong, healthy respect for the need for fire extinguishers – there’s two right by me as I write. Another in the car, my kitchen, the landing, the shed, etc.

BUT, it all worked! I must have blindly walked passed hundreds of H&S posters overs the years, but the messages in those shocking films will never fade.

Such it is with Training generally I feel. We bang on oh so politely about the need for proper valve training, the benefits of an educated workforce etc. Barely causes a ripple.

But one day at BVAA, during a particularly acrimonious discussion about responsibilities, as soon as I pulled out an image of a guy’s hideously maimed arm caused by a pressurized bleed plug blow out* – well that rapidly silenced the recriminations and got us working cooperatively!

The above example was dated 2005. I know another almost identical event occurred 6 years later. If the workers involved in 2011 had seen the photo that we saw, I wonder if they might have prepared the work differently?

So YOU, the reader. Were your staff recently trained/upskilled? Or do you have people in your teams making ill-advised, illinformed decisions about valves, actuation, etc? Are they working in ignorance of the risks they are taking and the perils they are putting others in, by their lack of training or awareness? Do we really need to resort to gory photos to get the message across?

Apparently, I cannot use said photo here in case I ‘offend’ someone. So be smart. When the health and safety inspectors come calling, be the person who did care, who undertook regular reviews, and did get the appropriate valve training in place.

*Now long since deleted but you can view www.stepchangeinsafety.net for regrettably many more valve-related incidents.

Published in Valve User Magazine Issue 43


Autumn 2017 // Issue 42
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