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Chris56000

Accident With Hot Soldering Iron–Suspended – possibility of Dismissal?

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Hi!

 

I am 59 now and have worked in Electronics repair all my working life.

 

Due to the Coronavirus nonsense, my employer has gone over to a two shift system, with the engineers (there are 46) split into Team A and Team B.

I work on a bench at near the back of the workshop, with one other employee who is team A and I am Team B, and the remaining two benches are setup for testing with no permanent employee stationed there.

 

Because of the Covid 19 nonsense we are placed under quite strong managerial pressure to vacate the building at shift end times, and I do admit I do get engrossed in my work as a repair engineer out of a desire to do it to a high standard, and didn't realise it had got to 1 on Tuesday, my shift end time!

 

On arrival at work yesterday morning at 6 a.m. I was ushered to my bench by the current manager, and to my surprise and somewhat horror, I found the hot end of my bench soldering iron had got lodged in the plastic cover of the isolated 110V bench power supply socket!

 

I've no idea exactly how that could happened by anything other than an accident, the proper stand for the iron was just under the iron and I can only assume I dislodged it at end of shift Tuesday afternoon at 1, after I'd switched the bench power off with the main switch on the premises wall, so the iron would have been cooling down anyway.

 

I do not know wether my Team A colleague attended work on the Tuesday afternoon shift, I suspect not, unless he saw the aftermath of the incident himself and reported it!

 

The upshot of this was that I got called upstairs by the line manager and asked to account for this accident, with an allegation that I flagrantly breached fire safety and electrical safety rules!

 

He was also going on saying I could have exposed somebody to a serious electric shock hazard, which I dispute because the damaged 110V socket is fed from a safety isolated transformer with no return path for any potential shock current.

 

The Soldering iron stands are NOT fixed to the benches in any way and we are given NO guidance on where we should place them – I placed my stand in the position it was at the back of the bench  because I was constantly catching my left arm on it and burning it from having to reach over the bench to operate switches controlling sockets, etc.

 

I was given an immediate suspension on full pay this morning and told H.R. will be in touch.

 

Is this the sort of accident that could cost me my employment?

 

At 59 with virtually no pension pot I don't really want to be going thro' the job–hunting weary–go–round again!

 

I have been employed at my present employment 4 years and 5 months.

 

PS!

 

One small point to add – the damaged 110V socket was replaced with a new one by the shift manager and an electrical safety certificated colleague and I was issued with a new soldering iron later on yesterday morning, with nothing whatsoever said at the time about any further action being taken!

 

Sorry for this being a long and somewhat technical post, by the way!

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Hello Chris,

 

safety is of course everyone's responsibility.

With that in mind,

what does the risk assessment and standard operating procedure for this equipment say?

When did you last have a safety briefing/ training? 

 

If you were unclear on how to use the equipment,

when did you ask for clarification about it,

and would you have a record of that?

These will all help your case.

 

I would also try and make your contempt for your employer's attempts to keep you safe/ your opinion that the pandemic is "nonsense", less obvious.

 

They don't serve you well in the current situation, when you need to appear to be someone who takes safety seriously.

Many people are very frightened.

I am not sure your dissmissive attitude will do you any favours. 

 

If you are worried about continued employment, the employer needs to know it won't happen again.

Accidents do happen; preventing them recurring is what counts.

 

So it's fine to not know how it happened, especially with more than one of you at a bench in a non-controlled environment.

Seeking to take preventative measures is the most important thing. 

 

Do you have a union ?

 

Em

 

 

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Never assume anyone on the internet is who they say they are. Only rely on advice from insured professionals you have paid for!

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Hi!

 

My employer isn't unionised and none of the engineers are in one out of a fear culture I suspect!

 

I have already moved the stand and got out less personal tools (no hand tools are supplied, engineers are expected to provide their own with no guidance as to how many and what form).

 

The only reference I made to the employer's C.V. precautions was to state that we were under strong managerial pressure not to be in the building at shift end times, and I am liable to get engrossed in my work as a result of a desire to do a good job of it, and therefore didn't realise the passage of time – the clock is a long distance away and I can't read it from a distance at the moment, as I'm on the waiting list for eye surgery to try and help this.

 

(Before my employer introduced this two–shift CV pattern, my hours were 8.30 to 5 and there was at least one other employee who always did evening overtime after 5 until 5.45 or 6, so there was always time at 5 to make sure soldering tools were left in a safe place and power supplies turned off at the end of each day)

 

 

 

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"I didn't know the time" in an era of watches, "I'm incapable of following instructions to finish on time," and "no one was there to check on me" really won't wash, I am afraid. That is how your managers are likely to interpret your current statements. I would think again about that. "I don't know,  I didn't see it happen and I know I put my tools away" is a much better reply.

 

I would look again at the risk assessment/ work instructions and take it from there.

 

 

 

 


Never assume anyone on the internet is who they say they are. Only rely on advice from insured professionals you have paid for!

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PS!

 

No safety training on the use of soldering irons and where to use/place them is given whatsoever – apart from the usual instructions supplied with new ones, and ours are refurbished secondhand ones!

 

I have been grumbled at about "too many screwdrivers on the bench", but you need at least four for all the screws in Electronics equipment, as I said there are no rules, guidance or training given, you're in an uncontrolled working environment as you quite correctly state!

 

The only official training given is electrical shock precautions, and in 40 years experience of this field, the number of minor shocks I have had is less than the fingers of one hand!

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I'm going to leave this to someone else I am afraid; what I am hearing from what you say, is that you have trouble following instructions that you disagree with, and take no personal accountability; these things do not go together well.

 

I think one of the other posters will be better placed to advise/. I hope it turns out ok for you; this is a horrible time to worrying about work.


Never assume anyone on the internet is who they say they are. Only rely on advice from insured professionals you have paid for!

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Where is the proof that you had caused this incident ?

 

Surely you would have carried out normal end of shift work bench close down processes as you would have done on every other day you worked.

 

Have you any other warnings on your record ?


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Hi!

 

The only proof they showed me were pictures of the damage that occurred to the socket, nothing else.

 

They did acknowledge that the power to the benches was found to be turned off at the time they became aware of the incident.

 

My manager called me upstairs, showed me photos of the damage, and simply said "I want to know your account of how this occurred".

 

 

I have had no disciplinary warnings on my record to my belief, certainly none in the past two years.

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It was an accident chris

and me like you..same game..why would we want to damage a n isolation transformer..eh??  

madness from a muppet manager that doesn't know safety anyway..

thats why its 110v and that why its isolated!!

 

how stupid are they??

 

Stand your ground

 

Dx


please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

 

if everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's tomorrow

the biggest financial industry in the UK, DCA;s would collapse overnight.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Hi!

 

This manager IS supposed (or at least claims to be!) H & S competent, yet he also accused me of leaving a deliberate shock hazard – I disputed this because the supply is totally isolated from earth, surely he ought to know this?

 

This same manager regularly reads myself and other colleagues the riot act about "performance and warranties" (returned repairs that fail to perform to customers expectations) – he has NO experience in the field of work we do, and the nature of the work is industrials which cannot be bench–tested for functional operation, all we can do is test the components using methods each engineer has had to learn entirely by himself outside my employer's premises!

 

The only training provided is a chapter on basic electrical safety from a public–domain book on Electronic Theory.

 

 

There is no way I or any other employee there would deliberately a piece of the company's infrastructure or Electronic Test Equipment provided for us to perform our duties efficiently and safely, other than by an unforseen accident!

 

 

 

Edited by Chris56000

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I am H&S trained to a certain level. 

 

Every employee will be contractually obliged to work in a safe way and the employers will treat such incidents very seriously.

 

In any investigation, it will look at this specific incident, but it should also look at company safety processes. 

 

Do you follow a rigorous routine at the end of each shift to ensure that you leave your work station in a safe condition ?

 

Have a think through the routine that you follow and write it down. It may seem silly, but when you get into a routine, you do things automatically without thinking,

 

It may be the case that you did leave your workstation in a safe condition. There may other explanations about how this incident happened, but you should not speculate. Just stick to facts about how you work and how you maintain safe working standards.


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Posted (edited)

Hi!

 

Yes, there are large power indicator lamps fitted to the top of the control cabinet and I always glance up to make sure both of them are out before I leave the employer's premises every day.

 

Since the employer introduced the Covid precautions, I have been taking my tools home every day, so I can't be accused of "spreading unknown germs or contamination" (most of my colleagues leave than on or near their benches), and I do look to make sure my soldering iron is safely in it's stand.

 

It's only quite recently I started taking my toolbox back into work and obviously, lifting it's lid to place tools, etc., in it would obscure anything behind it – I have wondered if I might have accidentally knocked the hot iron towards the back of the bench causing it to melt it's way into the soft plastic of the 110V socket lid – I honestly couldn't be sure that might have happened altho' I did mention it at yesterday's investigation meeting!

 

HR, who were present via Skype video link at the meeting, asked me for my consent to giving my personal email as postal services may be unreliable, to which I consented, as obviously I cannot access the company's one at the moment), have not yet responded, not even to confirm the suspension in writing yet!

Edited by Chris56000

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PS!

 

As well as making sure the cabinet power lamps are out before I leave, I also make sure any Customer's PCBs, etc., being worked on are safely positioned in the centre of the bench as far as possible and that no soldering irons, etc., are left too close to them, in the engineer who sits on the adjacent bench behind me knocks anything on my bench by accident!

 

As I said in my first post I was astonished and mortified when I was shown the accident at 6 am Wednesday by the shift manager – there is another colleague on the group of four benches next to me but he is on the other shift!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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what they should consider is whether there was any culpability on your part and that is more than just negligence.

The outcome wasnt that disastrous but the possibilities for something serious are what will be looked at but that should be part of an overall assesment of the dangerous occurrence and they should follow their procedures as laid down by the RIDDOR regs as outlined by Unclebulgaria.

 

Some people are just not team players but safety in the workplace is everyone's responsibility s

I would suggest that you acquaint yourself with the company procedures that at published and the so- called "6 pack" of health and safety law before you say too much to your employer.

 

They appear to have shortcomings as well but someone with your experiance will be expected to know their job and the legislation around it regardless of what courses their employer has run.

 

be as certain with your answers as you can so if you are asked why you didnt do something and you think you did then say so but dont guess or assume that someone else did or didnt do something else, just stick to your facts and personal knowledge of the events.

 

If you are certain that the bench power was off when you left the building say so but dont say that someone else might have switched it on the next day when you werent there, let them investigate that possibility themselves.

 

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Posted (edited)

I agree with Emmzzi in post #3. The Covid-19 precautions are not 'nonsense'. Lots of people are dying because of it and you are just the right age to consider yourself invincible.

 

The future is uncertain for many, many people.

 

H

Edited by Hammy1962

42 years at the pointy end of the motor trade. :eek:

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Hi!

 

Just an update on this!

 

A different manager to the one that called my disciplinary warning heard my case on Tuesday and today and after considering the matter with H.R., it was agreed that the incident was an accident, but that I was at fault for putting my soldering iron stand in a dubious position where it could cause damage if it fell out of it's stand!

 

The sanction I received was a written warning which they assured as counted as "first", and would be disregarded in 12 months subject to no further disciplinary offences, and that they want me to stay on suspension, (still paid) until Occupational Health had examined the iron, it's stand and my bench in general, and seen me in person, to make sure it's safe for me to return to duty!

 

In the meantime I will continue to receive my normal salary (due tonight!) under the split shift system originally arranged by the UK branch manager!

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so you are happy..


please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

 

if everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's tomorrow

the biggest financial industry in the UK, DCA;s would collapse overnight.

 

 

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Hi!

 

I'm just very relieved not to lose my job from this incident – trying to get another Electronics job that pays my current salary that's not hundreds of miles away is a next to impossible task at my age!

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I know the feeling!! 

 

 


please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

 

if everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's tomorrow

the biggest financial industry in the UK, DCA;s would collapse overnight.

 

 

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