I saw a video of a workover blowout. It was shot on a worker’s cell phone, apparently in another country, and shows tubing flying out of the well like spaghetti. I thought anyone who works in the field should see how wrong things can go and how fast they can get there if the crew isn’t careful. Evidently about a half a million other viewers had similar thoughts.
If a picture says a thousand words, videos like this are worth a million words. We can talk about safe practices at every safety meeting, but seeing an event like this take place drives home the impact in a way that we can’t duplicate any other way.
But then there is the flip side of the coin. At the start of the video, the photographer appears to be about 50 feet away. Then about 40 seconds into the video he seems to wake up to the fact that he is too close, so he runs what appears to be about 25 feet further. AND STOPS TO PLAY PHOTOGRAPHER AGAIN! You see a co-worker in the foreground who is even slower to realize the danger than he is. This time the photgrapher only stops for another five seconds before everyone on the crew runs for cover. He takes more video as the tubing whips through the worksite like a lariat.
The video is a great teachable moment for anyone who sees it, but the problem is that it was taken in the first place. One of the things that social media, YouTube and cellphone cameras have done is to make us all reporters, able to capture the moment and broadcast it to the world. But as this video demonstrates, this means a lot of worker’s first reaction is the reach for their phone and start shooting.
One of my fundamental beliefs is that safety has two main components:
- Trying to control hazards (barriers, PPE, etc.) and
- Trying to overcome all of the bone-headed, dangerous things that we humans do that goes against the hazard contriols we put in place.
So the second lesson of this video is that companies need to address the growing trend to “shoot first and run for cover later.”
How would you handle this one?