RE: Repeated cautions: necessary or redundant?

Subject: RE: Repeated cautions: necessary or redundant?
From: bryan -dot- westbrook -at- amd -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2002 09:39:41 -0600

I know. I was only replying to a specific side issue that had arisen because I knew my answer to the original query would take longer to write:

As for the original issue, I would recommend erring on the side of being overly cautious because in all my years of factory work (and there were several) one thing I learned is that factory workers include many bright, intelligent people (like I was at the time <g>) but it also includes some real dumb -at- $$es -dot-

My suggestion would be to develop a unique format for your warnings (I prefer the military hierarchy of cautions for damage to equipment and warnings for injury to personnel) that makes them stick out from the rest of the text. That way whether the operator chooses to read the warning or not, s/he knows one is there, but it's set aside from the instructions so an experienced operator who is well-versed in the safety procedures COULD chose to not read it. From a legal standpoint, I would guess that doing such shifts the liability to the operator if something goes wrong.

But I would never count on all of the workers knowing and following all of the safety procedures at all times. I worked for a while in a nail factory where the guys on the nightshift would bend over huge vats of acetone and vinyl paint while smoking.

At another job, I was working next to a guy who stole some phosphoric acid from the supply room to clean a conveyor belt. Another employee sprinkled chlorine powder (that he was supposed to use) on a second belt that dumped onto the first belt. When the poisonous gas started spreading I was the only employee who even bothered to step out into the fresh air.

Both of these were examples of veteran employees who had been told the safety procedures many times over many years and still not making them a part of their normal working habits.

As for the idea of just putting a macro-level warning at the top of the procedure, I would urge you to consider keeping all warnings and cautions immediately before the actual steps that they apply to. This is especially important when dealing with heavy machinery because it could potentially be several minutes (or even hours) between the first step that a macro-level warning precedes and the step where the warning is needed, plenty of time to forget about it.

The bottom-line, to me, is that you are dealing with someone's safety here, and there are no second chances at preventing someone from getting maimed or killed (and I say this looking down at the brand across the back of my right hand that was left by second-degree burns caused by a total lack of instruction in the use of a industrial shrink-wrapping machine). I would not want it on my conscious that I had cut out a safety warning that had cost someone a limb or worse.

-----Original Message-----
From: Marguerite Krupp [mailto:mkrupp -at- cisco -dot- com]
Sent: Tuesday, January 22, 2002 9:09 AM
To: Westbrook, Bryan; techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Subject: RE: Repeated cautions: necessary or redundant?

Yabbut, if the operator is supposed to holler "Clear" each time, it implies
that there may be other people in the vicinity who may not be aware of
what's about to happen. That's where it gets tricky.

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