Radiating Pure Incompetence

, , , | Healthy | October 30, 2017

(I work for the safety department overseeing several sites that my company is working on. I mainly focus on radiation exposure. We receive daily reports of exposure for all men working in radioactive areas with personal dosimeters that record in real time. Each site has one person who collates the information before passing it on. One site has recently had to employ a new person. He has sent the information through and I notice a problem. I reply to his email.)

Me: “[Person], is this information correct?”

Person: “Yes. It is correct.”

Me: “Okay. I thought I would check as many of your workers have far exceeded the legal limit in just one day. Has there been an incident?”

Person: “No. No incident. The information is correct. I have checked with dosimetry on site, and they confirm.”

(I don’t believe him, so I email the safety manager on site just to double check, but he doesn’t respond. I decide to pry further.)

Me: “[Person], can I assume that the workers have been sent home with pay? I will need to report this.”

Person: “No. They’re still working. I won’t be able to reach them until they finish.”

Me: “Well, you’re going to have to. They have far exceeded the legal limit for a year’s worth of exposure. As per policy, this will have to be reported and they will need to be monitored. Can you please check with [Safety Manager]?”

Person: “It’s just one Sievert! And no, [Safety Manager] is in a meeting.”

Me: “[Person], a Sievert is a large dose. We work in micro and millisieverts. Are you absolutely certain this information is correct?”

Person: “The information IS correct. That is the end of it!”

(I was even less convinced and spoke to my manager. He contacted the site manager and it was decided that the workers be sent home and everyone pulled off until the matter was resolved. It turned out no one there thought it necessary to train the new person, despite him having no experience with ionising radiation. The workers were only exposed to a few microseiverts and they were allowed to return to work. This incident reflected so badly on us it risked our contract with the site, and the manager, safety manager, and the new person were relocated. I got landed with the new person, and he’s made it his life goal to make my life miserable, as payment for his and his managers’ mistake.)

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