I work in an office environment, for a very large engineering conglomerate. This company mostly offers engineering and project management services to oil companies, which in the past have had a bad reputation for safety. Oil spills, explosions, machinery malfunctions, all that stuff.
Since it’s inception, the oil industry has been scrutinized (and rightfully so) for the safety of it’s employees and workers. Many people throughout the years have died on oil rigs, in mines and at refineries. So, as a response, the oil industry is now generally extremely safety conscious. Being the cynic that I am, I only assume this is to protect the image of the companies, not the actual personal safety of it’s workers. Either way, I get it.
I have been to some of these oil sites, where safety is an ever present topic, day in and day out, everywhere you turn. You have to pass a 5 – 8 hour safety orientation before you can even step foot on most of these sites. You also have to be tested for drugs and alcohol, and discuss safety topics before every single meeting.
It’s a little overkill, but still… I get it.
My issue begins in the office. I work in an office environment that is painfully safety conscious, to the point that employees are treated like children. Here are some examples of how disgustingly ‘safe’ my office is. To prove a point, these are all things that happened this week alone.
1. At another office location, occupied by the same company, an employee heated up their food in the microwave for too long and left the microwave unattended. The food was severely burned and the microwave began to smoke. At MY office location, an office manager informed me that they would be removing ALL microwaves in our offices for just a short period of time, to teach everyone a lesson about how microwaves are a privilege that should be treated with the utmost care and safety.
2. At the beginning of a meeting yesterday, with approximately 12 people in attendance, one person was obligated to present a safety topic before the meeting began. The safety topic was about lawn mower safety and it lasted 4 minutes. The meeting continued and ended 6 minutes later.
3. I had to go to a partner company’s office building yesterday to install 1 small media converter (this is kinda of like plugging in a modem, plug in the power, connect it and you are done). When I showed up the reception area, I was told that since I am ‘conducting work’ I will have to sign their safety agreement. I was then handed a 30 page pamphlet about safety and told I had to read it IN FULL, sign the back and then fill out a work safety form and sign that as well. The safety pamphlet contained information about safe work practices when using scaffolding, lasers, power tools, and hazardous materials. This process took approximately 25 minutes in total. I was then escorted to the server room, plugged in my device and left 3 minutes later.
There are people who dream up this kind of stuff for a living. They get paid a lot more than me, scouring the internet for safety clip art and office safety stories to send out in mass company-wide emails. There are many things I hate about working in a corporate office environment, but this in particular takes the cake.