BOFH: I'm not doing this for the benefit of your health, you know

Year 2015 - Episode 15

Episode 15

"Is he still there?" I ask the PFY, maintaining direct eye contact with him so that I can truthfully claim that I didn't see the Health and Safety guy hanging around the hallway to Mission Control like a bad smell.

There's a new push in the company to make the place safer and unfortunately the push concerned doesn't involve our Health and Safety Rep and a convenient window ledge.

And the thing that always, ALWAYS gets on my tits is they never employ a normal person to be a Health & Safety rep – it's always some power-hungry imaginative enthusiast who can think of 3 different ways a telephone directory can pose a threat to you – none of which is being repeatedly beaten over the head with it by someone wanting to teach you a lesson. Or having one fired at you by the ether-fuelled cannon that the PFY built into the second from top drawer of his massive filing cabinet. That's ether the highly flammable substance – not ether as in net.

Though an SNMP trigger does sound like a useful addition... I drop the PFY a quick email while I think of it...

The one good thing that the Health and Safety bloke has achieved – with a bit of manipulation – is to get soundproofing for the main office, so that the rest of the IT department isn't affected by the high noise levels from our office when we test dot-matrix printers, or while we're cleaning our 8" floppy drives while wearing our asbestos flares.

So Mission Control has effectively grown by about 2 metres of hallway, with the addition of some heavy soundproofed doors and what's now effectively an air-lock. The beauty of all this is that while the new soundproofing doors are access controlled, the doorbell button for our office is still just outside the original Mission Control doors. Now not even Smiley Lewis could hear him knocking.

In the end, of course, we're going to have to let him in, as he has one thing on his side that we cannot match – the infinite patience of the mentally deficient.

I cut to the chase and "notice" him, then press the door-release button twice to let him through the two sets of doors.

"Well that's a hazard!" he says, noting something down on his clipboard before gesturing back at the doors.

There is something about a person who wears a fluorescent vest in an office workplace that makes me want to reach for a hammer, some bleach and a large roll of plastic.

"What is?" the PFY asks, encouraging him.

"That. There's no emergency break-glass between the two sets of doors to force them open in the event of a fire."

"That's because in the event of a fire, all the doors in the building open automatically," I lie – because I know for a fact that 2 sets of doors don't.

"But what if the fire system doesn't work?"

"Then you won't know there's a fire and will die of smoke inhalation before you get to the doors," the PFY says.

"But what if the alarms work, but the automatic door-opening doesn't?"

"Then you press the door-release button, which will open the door."

"But what if the fire has burnt the cabling, so that the door-release won't work?"

"Then it's probably burnt the power cable energising the mag clamp – so the door will open."

I could play "what if" for hours, but I don't want to. What I WANT to do lock him in the airlock with a CO2 extinguisher that has the grip taped open.

But I'm not going to do that either.

"So what brings you here?"

"I'm just following up on those hazards we identified yesterday."

"We didn't identify any hazards yesterday."

"Yes we did. We identified that your CO2 extinguishers aren't labelled with the fires that they are suitable for extinguishing. We identified that one of your fluorescent fittings has 2 out of the 3 lamps not working, meaning part of your workplace isn't receiving the minimum required light level. We also identified that your espresso machine has no routine maintenance schedule, which could lead to giardia, legionnaire's disease or a host of other illnesses."

"A," the PFY responds "WE did not identify any of those – YOU did. B, the CO2 extinguishers aren't labelled because they're suitable for any fire in this room..."

"NOT A FAT FIRE!" he counters.

"Well, if the Boss spontaneously combusts I'll keep that in mind," the PFY continues. "The fluros are in the corner, above a tape safe which blocks out most of the light anyway – and is the reason we can't get to the fitting to change them, and finally the expresso machine runs at a temperature which precludes any disease bar those caused by extremophiles and we don't get many of them here."

"Regulations state that all drinking water dispensing equipment must have a regular maintenance programme to prevent pathogen or bacteria build-up, AND that there must be a minimum lux level in ALL parts of the office. Not subject to discussion."

"I think you'll find that the worst light level in this office is actually over there," the PFY says, pointing over to the far side of the office.

"I doubt it, it's a couple of feet from a window," he says, wandering over.

"It may be," I say. "But when the sun goes down, you'll note that the entire area is blocked from overhead light by that..."

"Massive filing cabinet," he says, tapping on the aforementioned cabinet.


... ... ...


Looks like that email was a waste of my valuable time...

"Well that's a hazard!" I say moments later, gazing out the window at the gathering crowd below.

"What is?" the PFY asks.

"That window. It's supposed to be laminate, not safety glass."

"Well write it down," the PFY says, picking up a crumpled clipboard and handing it to me.