Monday, 25 June 2012

Having a (non)sense of place

[My apologies, today's post is a little on the lengthy side.]

Working at the hospital can be dangerous. Quite apart from abusive drunks on the night shifts, germ-ridden people coughing into your face or razor-sharp instruments seemingly waiting to cut you at the first opportunity, there are the trolleys. Sorry if that reads like I am being flippant towards the last one, but I'm not. It's admittedly not as potentially lethal as the others, but it's a real danger nonetheless.
Imagine you have a trolley laden with its contents - and this goes for the hospital beds being pushed around, too - moving along a corridor. Maybe one wheel sticks, maybe they're all very free-flowing. However, the fact remains that a huge chunk of metal is being pushed and/or pulled by one or two people. What happens when you come to negotiate a corner, or go through a door? It's going to be tricky, holding the door open with one hand and manipulating the trolley with the other.

That's when you need to be careful.

Julie found this out to her cost recently, as she was trying to move a loaded food trolley (and they're very heavy, I am told) into a corridor, out of a lift (elevator, to US English speakers). One of the wheels caught her foot, which obviously hurt like blazes. Julie, being bought up to not worry about things and to get on as best as she can, didn't mention it at the time.
However, the top of her foot continued to hurt like blazes.
Eventually, Julie went to see a doctor, who referred her to the hospital for an x-ray. This, thankfully, turned up no broken bones, although there had been some fluid created as a result of the accident. This would apparently subside in a few more days. This was a relief, as we really didn't fancy Julie being signed off and not getting any pay. We can't afford that right now.

Julie and myself were talking about the accident, and I was asking some questions; Was it reported? (there isn't anyone around at the weekends to report to.) Was it recorded in the accident book? (see previous parentheses) Have you spoken to a team leader since the weekend? (well... no)
It was about this point that I went on a little rant about how they should be issued and wearing protective footwear - what we in the business know as "toe-'tectors". I also hectored Julie about needing to tell someone about it as soon as possible; if nothing else, if it turned out there was something seriously wrong, then her employers would know why and how. Julie has a tendency, when I begin one of my little tirades, of letting me run my course and then saying something like, "well, we'll see." Which is quite aggravating.

In any event, Julie told her supervisor the next day. She was told that Occupational Health* would need to get in touch with her and go over the incident with her. However, there was an obvious problem or two. You see, Julie only works an early evening shift, one which has very little overlap with office staff. Not only that, but the day after Julie's chat with her supervisor, she was due to take a couple of days off. Just when were OH supposed to be getting hold of Julie?

If that wasn't enough, after I had written this Gem down, Julie dug herself in even further...

[Even better, Julie just came back from work as I was typing this out. Naturally curious as to what I may have been slandering her for (just kidding, it's all true), she had a glance and wanted to know the Gem involved. I read out what I had copied down and she stood there for a moment and then said,
"Well, that makes sense, doesn't it?"
Yes, dear.]

*Occupational Health is one of those departments within a company that has arisen as a direct result of the culture of litigation that has become prevalent in much of the western world these days. Essentially, they exist to give the company a reason to avoid paying out any money to an injured party. To this end, OH will ask you so many questions that you get fed up of it all and decide it's less hassle to go back to work.