BOFH: Clear and present danger
When loop pile carpet attacks
Episode 11 Nothing starts a day worse than the Boss wandering into Mission Control with a clipboard in his hand. It's just never a good sign...
"Just collecting your thoughts on who the new Health and Safety representative for the floor should be?"
"Oh yes, yes, very good," I respond enthusiatically. "And about time too!"
"So you're keen to vote then?"
"And so who would you like it to be?"
"Oh! uuuuuhhmmm, who was at the top of the list?"
"Baxter... Baxter... YES, that's him, Baxter's the man!"
"Sharon now, but used to be Shane," the PFY adlibs.
"What you're saying she, well he's a transexual?" the Boss asks, horrified at the thought that he might have been browsing him/her/it with an appreciative eye.
"Not exactly - Work place accident, running with scissors..."
"Oh, I see, it's a joke!" the Boss chuckles, relieved to have his sexuality intact. "But are you sure you want Baxter?"
"Did I say Baxter?" I ask. "No, not Baxter, I meant... oh.. what's-his-name. Bottom of the list."
"Yeah Kennerley's the man! He is a man isn't he?"
"You don't care who's appointed do you?" the Boss asks drily.
"What. Of course we do!" the PFY says defensively, jumping aboard the bandwagon. "We really care! I mean the successful candidate will be the person who meets with us on a regular basis to discuss whether paper cuts from printer stock poses a danger in the workplace!"
"Lets not forget checking that we've secured our mats in the prescribed manner," I add.
"Or putting signs up to warn people that there are dangerous voltages inside pieces of equipment which have power cables running into them - power cables which incidentally need to be tested every three years and labelled with a cable test sticker - which also warns of the dangerous voltage inside the cable - and is in turn plugged into a socket which has warning signs about the insertion of metallic objects and dangerous voltages."
"..." the Boss sighs before exiting slightly miffed.
. . .
I realise a day later that we may have pushed the Boss a teensy bit too far on this when a flourescent yellow blazer arrives on the PFY's desk. I'm still laughing heartily at his misfortune when my own blazer arrives.
"What the hell's a floor warden?" the PFY asks, reading the back of his jacket.
So we're the new company Health and Safety reps for the floor (apparently because of the high accident rate they've decided it's best to upgrade the required number of reps) and as the first part of our new role we have to attend a workplace safety seminar.
And sure enough the place is cram packed with the anal retentive types you'd expect to see working security at the smorgasbord in an old folks home - the ones who make sure noone gets too many portions of petfood. Only now their perceptive abilities have been honed to seek out potential causes of danger.
"I think you'll find there's more of a trip risk in loop pile carpet than cut pile," one of them observes over their morning tea digestive biscuit, chewed 23 times to avoid choke risk.
"Yes, yes," another agrees, "and with the increased risk of slips on damp or wet man-made fibre carpets we really should be recommending woollen - or at the very least woollen blend carpets."
. . . A quarter hour later . . .
"You're back early!" the Boss gasps, as we roll back into Mission Control. "We were expecting you tomorrow!"
"Yes, we would have been back then except for the accident," the PFY replies.
"Accident?" the Boss asks.
"Yes, it was horrific," I respond. "Third degree carpet burns are nasty!"
"It's the loop pile that does it," the PFY nods.
"I... So... when do you go back?"
"We don't - they tested us and instructor seemed to think that we knew quite a lot about dangers in the workplace."
"You did the multichoice paper?"
"No, we did the practical," the PFY says pulling a piece of scorched nylon loop pile from his clothing.
"So you're certified?"
"Sure," the PFY says, handing over a couple of hastily-signed papers bearing our names.
"Yes... it all ... seems to be in order..." the Boss murmurs slowly.
"As it is," I respond. "Now, if you don't mind we'd like to get to work. And as it happens, I notice that my desktop monitor is very unstable and should probably be replaced with a plasma version which wouldn't shatter if it were to fall on the floor."
"Yes, but what's the likelihoo.."
"And I have identified a risk in this bulk eraser," the PFY says "Were it to fall off a desk it could do someone a pretty nasty injury to the foot."
"But how on earth would if ever f..."
"...alaaaaaaaaarrggggh!" the Boss finishes.
"As a matter of fact," I add, "I can spot right here and now several potential trouble spots which could cause extremely painful - possibly fatal injuries, and I'd be honour bound by the health and safety code to point them out to you at the earliest possible convenience. Like now."
"So you're returning the jackets then?" he asks, penny dropped and spent.
"I think it's the safest option - don't you?" ®