January 2013 #1: Unexpectedly Pitched Overboard in the Dark (a.k.a., Why To Wear a Life Preserver)
1. Welcome to the latest edition of the Summary of Mishaps, hot off the press for 2013, a year in which we once again hope that we run out of material but we aren't going to bet on it.
A. In Washington state, a civilian education tech was doing a pre-trip inspection on a school bus, which is a good thing, since it gives you a chance to check for leaky tires, loose or damaged equipment, and any other whatnot that would interfere with safely picking up and dropping off young scholars.
However, the safety focus of this inspection is undercut when the inspector steps around the bus's "Stop" paddle, trips on the curb and sprains her ankle.
B. Here's a little story about why you shouldn't just wear a life preserver when you think you might need it. Our instructor is an E-3 master-at-arms who is one of three passengers in a vessel motoring north through a narrow, well-marked channel off the tip of Florida. It is 0100. The dark and presumably peaceful night is suddenly livened up by the sudden appearance, just 50 yards away, of another boat's navigation lights. Apparently, whoever is at the controls of that boat didn't have them on, perhaps not expecting to meet another boat after midnight in that particular channel.
The captain on the E-3's boat eases off the throttle, but between the boat's forward momentum and the stiff currents in the channel, he collides with one of the channel markers. The sudden stop catapults the E-3 into the dark sea, where he receives a 3-inch gash on his leg from an unidentified object.
The captain fishes him out, motors to the dock and drives the Sailor to a medical center, where docs close the wound with six staples.
The report doesn't say whether the E-3 was wearing a life preserver or not. Let's assume he was. I think we can also assume that he didn't foresee that the boat would hit a marker and pitch him overboard.
Just go ahead and put on your life preserver. And furthermore, turn on our lights after dark.
C. An electrician's mate second class had to clean and inspect a motor controller on a lube-oil purifier. During the tag out process, he consulted a drawing in the tech manual. This is a good thing. However, he assumed that the drawing was what the report called "general," which somehow meant that he could safely ignore a label plate that read, "This equipment is energized from multiple power sources." This assumption was not a good thing, dramatized by the "Brrrzzzaaappp!" that is lurking in his very near future.
The tag out was approved through the Engineering Officer of the Watch. The EM2 then lined up another hole in the Swiss cheese while using a fluke meter to make sure all of the circuits were de-energized. He didn't check all of the wires, because he thought that some of the auxiliary contacts were loads and not power supplies.
"The NSTM 300 requirements were not violated," the report said, which I'm sure made him feel much better after he took off his PPE and got shocked.
D. Aboard a submarine, an E-3 culinary specialist was trying to open a #10 can, using a technique that is near and dear to all of our safety-centric hearts, namely the good old "approved means." I think we can assume this meant an electric can opener. For some unspecified reason, this time-honored method failed. Which of the following techniques did he then try?
Find another can opener? Nope
Get a pair of pliers and a pair of work gloves? Nah
Grab the razor-sharp, jagged, semi-detached lid with his bare hand? Bingo.
Directly the contents of the can became something like "peas in blood sauce," so he had to hustle over to medical for seven stitches. Nine days of light duty ensued.
A word to the wise: If you can't do something using the approved means, don't assume you'll be able to do it with unapproved means, either.
2. That's it for this week, friends and neighbors. See you on the flip side.
December 2012 #4: Our Annual New-Year's Resolution Issue
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