Do You Know What They Call Me? – By The Artful Blogger

John Konrad
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September 18, 2007

Do You Know What They Call Me?
By The Artful Blogger


I’ve been accused of many things. I’ve been called a liar, a cheater, and a womanizer, among other things (Well, there was the thing with the goat, but the goat was asking for it). Lately though, I’ve been accused of being heartless, someone who takes another’s misery and makes light of it. Well, duh? Actually, I’m an asshole. I can’t help it, and I won’t apologize for it, but I am. It didn’t start off that way, but I found that it can be a great tool to get people to listen to you. As long as I use my assholism (is that a word? I know my Spell-Check didn’t like it.) for the greater good. I was once asked, “Do you have any boundaries?” Only one: I will not make fun of the dead. They’ve paid the ultimate price, and you’ll never see me write about it. Pretty much everything else, though, is fair game, which reminds me of a sea story:

Back in my navy days, I had this skipper. He was a firm but fair leader (That meant that he yelled a lot). He found out though, that due to his temper, his crew would hide information from him for fear of reprisal. Realizing this, he made a deal with his crew. You could tell him “anything” as long as you brought him a candy bar. The only stipulation was, that he would ask you, “What did you learn?” and you would have to have an immediate response. OK, it’s a little weird, but it worked . . . until it was my turn.

I had the pleasure of informing the captain that I had just blown up a clutch assembly for one of the main engines, and the port shaft was down hard. With Snickers Bar in hand, I made my way up to the skipper’s cabin. I ran into the captain’s steward along the way. He asked me what was going on, so I flashed the Snickers Bar. The steward shook is head and informed me that the captain really prefers Milky Way Bars. I blew him off as an idiot and continued on my quest. Besides, even if it were true, I didn’t have the time to hunt down the proper “candy bar of the day.”

When I got to the skipper’s cabin, he asked me my business. I drew my Snickers and started telling my tale of woe. He silently chewed his Snickers as I unraveled the details of the incident. He continued to silently munch until I got to the part where I told him that I paralyzed half of his main propulsion plant.

To say that he exploded would not do him justice. He stood, got nose to nose with me, opened his mouth and verbally chastised me. I mean, metaphoric diarrhea was literally pouring out of his mouth (or maybe it was half-eaten Snickers Bar).

By the time he finished his verbal assault, I was scraping the adverbs off of my ego. That’s when he asked the question, “Well, what did you learn?” I replied, “Sir, next time, I’m hunting you down a Milky Way Bar!” You know, he actually gave me a medal for fixing that clutch. Maybe it was just guilt.

Anyway, as the old saying goes: “Sometimes when you’re up to your ass in alligators, you have a tendency to forget what your main objective is.” I have an incident to talk about.

Today’s bedtime story is another cavalcade of errors. As always, it could have been avoid and more than one person made things worse. At least no one was killed.

On an oilrig, a caustic barrel required repair for a seized mixing paddle (Take note on what kind of barrel; there will be a test later). The barrel was flushed for 30 minutes, then drained, and sent to the Hot Work Area for repairs. With a torch, the welder cut a rectangular hole on the bottom of the barrel. He noticed a two inch thick hardened buildup of a powdery substance. (Gee, a hard, powdery substance in a caustic barrel. I wonder what it could be? Actually, so did he.) He assumed that this was what was seizing up the paddles and used a piece of metal tubing to pry the paddles around. He bent over and looked inside the barrel to check his progress (OK kids, can anybody guess what happens next?). The welder then was nailed with escaping caustic vapor/steam which covered the unprotected portions of his upper face.

Oh, it gets better! Feeling his face starting to burn from the unidentified substance (Hmm, its a caustic barrel? Perhaps it might be something . . . oh . . . caustic?), he immediately flushed his face at rig eyewash station in his shop. The welder went to the medic for treatment. After reaching the medic he explained what happened. The medic asked him how long he flushed his face. (OK, now it really gets good.) Upon hearing the welder’s answer, the medic determines that his now burning face hasn’t been flushed enough. (I know, you think the medic continued the flush. Hell no! If he did that, I wouldn’t have anything to write about.) The medic sends the welder back to the eyewash station (As always, I’m not making this up) to finish flushing his face for the required amount of time. (Huh?!?) Well, the welder goes back to the Hot Work Area and (this is really good) exposes himself to the caustic substance again for another two minutes. (This guy’s now pretty much feeling unloved and on fire.) The medic later realized that skin flushing water needed a neutralizing agent (Really? What gave it away?), and was not clear on how effective immediate, vigorous irrigation is in reducing the effects (Maybe the festering blisters on the welder’s face was the give away?). The medic was also not aware of the emergency first aid treatment recommended on the MSDS sheet. The sheet was provided to him while the incident was being handled (I don’t know who handed it to him or how it was handed, but I’m sure that welder wanted to roll that sheet up and give the medic a colitis attack!).

A safety meeting was held with all crewmembers within 30 minutes of the incident. It was stressed that proper procedures must be followed. The incident likely started by not properly flushing the barrel with plenty of water after each use. Poor design was also a factor. A properly completed JSA might also have recognized the not-so-common hazard of caustic vapors from the cutting process and included any recommendations to reduce or eliminate the hazard. The bottom line is that all chemicals should be considered an energy source when completing a JSA and any hazards associated with them must be reviewed and recognized. Further training of Hazard Identification, Hazard Labeling, and elimination of those hazards prior to continuing with a task should be completed by all rig personnel. Mud Engineers on locations should be consulted about the effects of chemicals on site and response procedures should be reviewed so there is no delay in the treatment process. Lastly, (Are we paying attention?) if you come across a substance that you’re unaware of what it is (Yeah, even if it’s in a caustic barrel), ASK!
OK, kiddies, that’s my bedtime story. If you were offended, try chewing on a Snickers Bar. I’m the Asshole . . . er . . . Artful Blogger. That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it

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