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(en) NorthWest America, Unfinished Business #3 - Industrial Experiance - by Arthur J Miller

Date Tue, 18 Oct 2005 12:03:54 +0200

Got called in for a night shift Tote job, that is working
a Totem container ship. After about four hours the
foreman comes by and tells us that we
may have to work over tonight, well most of the time
when they say that it means having to work over after
an 8-hour shift, but this is different, we were already
working a 12 hour shift and they wanted 14 hours
because the ship had to sail at 2 am and the crew
had the cooler out of one of the four main engines
and we had to have four large pipes connected back up to the
engine before they sailed, or they would have to sail on just
three engines. So what ever happened to the 8-hour day?
I can't turn down the dispatch because I'll lose my unemploy-
ment, lose my seniority and place on the work list. The union
don't give a damn about what we think about long hours because
they make good money off them by our working dues.
We finally got called down from our other
job to hook-up the pipes to the engine. The
foreman had left and the only leadman was a weld-
ing leadman. Nice guy but a little too gung-ho and he
did not know much about pipes. He was a bit worried
about getting the pipes connected in time because I
told him of the trouble we would have because the
pipes were connected to expansion joints.
Expansion joints are rather like accordions, you
install then with braces weld to them compressed
and after the fit up you take the braces off, and
before you take them out you should weld new
braces on them because if you don't they will expand
when you take the pipes off them and they are hard
as hell to get back in again and it takes time to com-
press them again so that you can connect the pipers.
Any time I start a pipe job I first look at it and fig-
ure out how I am going to do it and possible prob-
lems that must be overcome. Part of that is having a
very clear idea on how I am going to rig the pipe and
see the possible problems there. The welding lead-
man sees one pipe still hooked up to the overhead
chainfall that runs on a trolley. This is set up to pull
parts out of the engine and is rather large, it would
take two people or more to pick it up and it had a five-
ton load limit.
The leadman gets another fitter to help start pulling
the pipe over without watching what they are doing
and they break off a sensor pipe off the main pipe. I
told them to wait for a moment and I would help. The
first thing I noticed was that the pipe was not rigged
correctly because the strap was straddling the pipe
rather than coking the pipe.
What this means is the pipe could slip. So I said we had to
have someone on both ends of the pipe so that it would not slip
out of the strap.
So we start moving the pipe down the trolley to where it need-
ed to go. I was watching out for other parts on the pipe so that
they would not break off and keeping my end of the pipe
steady. Well the leadman was pulling the chainfall down the
trolley which he had not checked out before hand and he was not
watching the chainfall. All of a sudden the pipe and
the large chainfall come crashing down on me. What
the leadman had failed to notice is that when the
ship's crew pulled the engine's cooler out and after
they had pulled that pipe off to the other end of the
trolley they had cut out a section of the trolley and
they had not put that section back up. It was like a
train crossing a bridge with a section of the bridge
out, and the only place the train could go is down.
So there I was knocked to the deck with my whole
left side of my body smashed up. A big old gash on
my collarbone bleeding and swelling up like a golf
ball. I could barely move my shoulder and had pains
in my side and back and a cut on my head. They
thought my collarbone was busted and maybe my
shoulder (turned out I have hard bones and nothing
did break). They got me out on to the main deck but
the ship did not have a way to get me to the front
gate and the could not let the ambulance in the ter-
minal, I guess either because of so-called homeland
security or because that may cause a delay in the
loading of the ship. So they called up for a longshore
truck to come up and take me to the gate. Half way
to the gate the union rep. stopped the truck yelling at
the driver as if he had committed some great crime.
What it turned out to be is that they could not pull a
truck off the work on loading the ship even for an
injury. There I was in the trucking all smashed up and
bleeding hearing this damn union rep. yelling about
the only thing that mattered was getting the ship
This little story has a point to it. Trusting experience
and knowledge is far more important than wanting to
do things without such experience and knowledge.
My industrial experience would not have allowed that
"accident" to happen because I knew better than to
just doing things without knowing the impact and
dangers of my actions. Had I been the person to start
rigging that pipe over I would have looked down the
line to see if there would have be any problems
because it is a part of my job to do that. Had I been
a few inches closer inline to where the chainfall had
dropped I would be dead, smashed like a bug on a
windshield because someone acting without know-
ing the possible impact of their actions. As it was I
was only hit on the left side of my body.
That is why in most things I trust the experience
and knowledge of those in industry over just theoret-
ical abstractions. In my industry trusting experience
can be the difference of life or death. If nothing else
it makes a big different in getting the job done and
done right. That is why I speak out against things like
the CIC plan. Like that leadman tonight the CIC does
not know the impact that its plan will have on our
organization because the CIC plan is not based upon
industrial experience. And like what happened
tonight because that leadman did not know what he
was doing the CIC plan could lead us off a cliff and
the whole damn thing could come crashing down on
So here I sit hurting like hell but too much on my
mind that I have to speak before I rest..

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