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FOR SAFETY'S SAKEManagement Or Employee Problem?

Last month, I wrote about carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning in the workplace. I received two interesting responses to that article:

Story 1
“When I was at [a station] I installed a CO detector in the ENG van. The photogs often ran the generator with the cover off to keep it from overheating. (That problem was resolved.)

“The first real remote we did following the CO detector installation was at the LPGA tournament. We covered that event for a week. To keep the noise down, we kept the van doors closed. One of my engineers, who should have known better, was in the van when the alarm sounded.

“He took the detector off the wall and put it outside on the ground, then promptly went back inside and closed the doors.”

Story 2
“Regarding the CO article’s last line, ‘Realization and prevention of CO exposure is a part of the job,’ reminds me of something I heard at a recent safety meeting.

“I was encouraged to hear that one of our stations had fully outfitted their vans with CO detectors...great job...glad they saw the light...such a small investment for the safety of their operators. Then the technician went on to say, ‘Yeah, and in one van management posted a note that read, 'Caution: This van has been known to exhibit carbon monoxide problems.’ Yipes! Where’s the follow through?”

Everybody’s busy...

Sounds as if everybody is too busy to get the problems taken care of. Sound familiar? Of course it does. Nobody reading this column will make a buck off his station making sure safety is on everybody’s mind. Somebody may stop something from happening, but who’s to know that? Story 1 has a photog who has to get a story on the air. Maybe he figures a rushed lunch makes him nauseous, his story is not good, or tension makes him feel “off.” Maybe he’s a smoker and therefore used to elevated CO levels.

The manager in Story 2 posted a note about her truck’s problem. Maybe there’s a budget crunch and she had to do something because of a problem her bosses didn’t want to hear about in a meeting. Everybody reading this makes money doing what “the man” says to do—it’s the system.
What really matters is that the people you are working with need you to watch out for them. Nobody can do it all, and few can maintain concentration on any job for more than a few minutes without some sort of distraction. You want to blame the managers for not running the place well? Managers want to blame workers? All that does is take everybody’s eye off the ball.

If you want to be safe, work together. Find common ground. Look at the person you are with and forget about him/her or their position, and think about how they are somebody’s husband, wife, brother, sister, father, mother, employer, or employee. They get up and breathe every morning as you do, buy the groceries, overspend the credit cards, go faster than the speed limit, worry about doing the job well, in their interpretation of it, and, in general, worry about the same stuff you do. We all do.

Safe work practices are a common concern for every person, because if there’s an accident, it becomes everybody’s problem.

Mark Bell publishes the ENG Safety Newsletter. He can be reached at: