Health, Safety and… BOFH

Who put that extinguisher there?

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Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Episode 24 BOFH 2003: Episode 24

"It nearly crushed her!" the H&S feeb blubbers, in an attempt to justify yet another new brainwave.

"And you think that we'll avoid workplace tragedy by 'Securely, at a minimum of three points, bolt monitors to immovable desktop surfaces'?" the PFY asks.


"What about laptops? Do we need to bolt them too?"

"Obviously laptops don't need bolting down," he responds, "they're not as likely to fall. AND not a piece of equipment that would hurt you if it fell on you."

"So what about LCD monitors?" I ask. "They could fall, but they wouldn't do you much damage if they fell on you - not even the really big ones."

"Well, I suppose would could examine things like this on a case-by-case basis because some pe--"

"And speaker systems?" I interrupt "What about those ginormous sub-woofters you see up in your department?"

"I think you mean subwoofers," the H&S guy points out.

"No, no, sub-woofters - the people that own those big speakers. Some of those speakers are huge! Are you going to make the sub-woofters bolt them down?"

"LOOK, I'M ONLY DOING MY JOB!" he snaps suddenly, obviously feeling underappreciated.

"And what a fine job it is!" I add, cheerfully. "And we'll happily bolt our monitors down at three places. What's next on your list?"

"I'm to check all your fire extinguishers are approved for use on electrical fires."

"Be my guest!" I cry, gesturing about the room expansively - loving, as I do, red tape in all it's manifestations.

He wanders off extinguisher spotting until he comes across the unit near the door.

"This one's not an approved type! It's water! You could get a severe shock from this if you used it on an electrical fire!"

"Ah well that IS the visitor's extinguisher," the PFY notes, nonchalantly.

"VISITOR'S extinguisher?"

"Yes, for visitors. Which we don't have. But, because of the square footage of the control room, you guys made us have one extinguisher for each person in the Control room, plus a spare."

"My records say that it should be a CO2 unit!"

"Well it was, but it was needed in the Computer room, so we had a bit of a shuffle."

"You had a water type extinguisher in the Computer Room!!?!?!"

"No, that came from the cafeteria."

"How did the cafeteria one get to be here?"

"OK..." the PFY sighs, taking a deep breath for the story. "We needed a FLAT-bottomed extinguisher in the Computer Room to keep the door open when we're transferring tapes from the tape safe room to the tape jukebox in the Computer Room. The Computer Room extinguisher had a ROUND bottom, which wouldn't stand up by itself. When we tried to swap them we found the Computer Room one was too tall to fit on this wall hook, which is rather low. So we swapped it with the one in the cafeteria which was shorter."

"B-b-but this is the wrong extinguisher for this area - and the one in the cafeteria was supposed to have been a... >scrabble< dry powder one - for oil fires - not the water one you took, and what the HELL are you doing holding a fire-rated door open with an extinguisher? Don't you realise the risks?!?!?"

"What risks?"

"A fire could spread from your tape safe room through the open fire door to the Computer Room!"

"That's ridiculous!" I cry, re-entering the conversation. "A fire's FAR more likely to start in the Computer Room - especially with those flagons of isopropyl alcohol on top of warm equipment."

"You're supposed to keep flammibles in the dangerous items cupboard!"

"We swapped that with the bloke from stores who was told HE had to keep HIS stocks of isopropyl alcohol in a dangerous items cupboard."

"You SWAPPED it? What for?"

"His bottles of isopropyl alcohol, I seem to recall," the PFY responds.

"This is all going in my report you know!" he threatens.

"You should do what you think is best," I say to plactate him.

"I will. Now I want to look in this Computer Room."



"Well, I'd like to let you in, but if you remember back to last time H&S had a slow day - probably all of six weeks ago - you told us that the Computer Room was a dangerous place and we shouldn't permit visitors."

"Which you said you don't have."

"No - yet we do have a visitor's extinguisher. Ironic, isn't it?"

"Well I still want to look in the Computer Room!"

"No can do!"

"Why not?"

"You haven't been on the Computer Room safety briefing you people insisted that visitors must attend prior to entering the Computer Room."

"How about I do that now?" he responds sarcastically.

"Are you sure? It's quite involved..."

"Positive!" he snaps triumphantly.

. . . Ten minutes later . . .

"THAT'S RIGHT!" I shout through the Computer Room door and over the halon discharge alarm "KEEP LOW WHEN YOU CRAWL TO THE DOOR, THAT WAY THE HALON WILL HAVE LESS EFFECT!"

"Will it?" the PFY asks, peering into the Computer Room.

"No idea, but we'll find out when he gets over here and I tell him he dropped his swipe card in the middle of the room."

"So that's the safety briefing is it?" the PFY asks. "Lock them in the Computer Room and test the Halon?"

"It depends. I've 'prepared' lessons on 'Navigating the Computer Room in the Dark' - which we've always enjoyed in the past - 'The dangers of racks without earthquake restraints', 'Why you should check how secure the grating floor is before stepping into a comms riser' and, if he's still moving, 'Why we always treat wires as live'."

"Ooooh, can I teach that one?" the PFY gasps.

"Of course you can," I say magnanioumously.

After all, Health and Safety is everyone's responsibility. ®

BOFH is copyright © 1995-2003, Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his rights.

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