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Fired for documenting accidents

Fired for documenting accidents

(OP)
Not an engineering disaster, per se, but I imagine the readers of this particular forum would have more specific insight...

A discussion group I'm part of that deals in CNC machining recently had a post (with pics) of an accident. It seems a machinist decided to poke his head into the working area while the machine was spinning up, and in doing so lost a chunk of scalp... he'll survive with likely no lasting effects other than a healthier respect for moving machinery and a bald patch. While it serves as a good warning/reminder to others in the industry, I was surprised to see a number of posts warning the OP to remove the pics before they are fired. No one appeared willing to say why a company would fire an employee for documenting an accident, but I know some here would be happy to share their thoughts on the matter. I can't imagine it would even be legal to fire someone for that...

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

RE: Fired for documenting accidents

Documenting the accident wouldn't, but the stupidity of doing so in the first place might ...

RE: Fired for documenting accidents

In this litigatious society, posting things into public domain which might later affect the outcome of a trial would be somewhat silly.

For example, if the photos being posted resulted in a long list of comments observing that the injured party was an idiot for putting his head in the way of a moving machine tool and that the injuries were part of Darwinian evolution taking place, then a judge might decide that the photos and comments had prejudiced the outcome of the his claim for compensation against the machine owner for the machine having defective guards.

RE: Fired for documenting accidents

Did the photographs include identifiable pictures of the injured person? If so, and if the subject hadn't consented to publication, then the resulting violation of a colleague's privacy probably amounts to misconduct.

Who owns the copyright in the pictures?

What/who else was visible in the pictures?

Broadcasting the lessons from accidents is a good thing, but there are lots of ways you can get it wrong.

A.

RE: Fired for documenting accidents

One of my less fun jobs had me responsible for safety at a manufacturing plant with a long history of safety problems. I read a lot of regulatory material.

Later, while job shopping, I was supervising on a Saturday at a different plant in another state, when a minor accident occurred. I led the victim to the company nurse's office, executed appropriate first aid,
...
then documented the accident and the treatment in the logbook maintained for such things, and signed the entry, as I understood state law and Federal law required.


Since my name did not appear in their org chart or phone list, it took most of a week for management to track me down and yell at me for sullying their not unblemished record of accidents, possibly causing a rise in insurance premiums or triggering OSHA action. I don't recall them asking about the employee's prognosis.
Told them I didn't give a crap about their record.
Not fired that day.


A little while later, somebody discovered that 90 pct of the staff at that site was job shoppers, and let us all go at once.





Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Fired for documenting accidents

While documenting the accident, per se, is probably not fireable, posting the information on the web is possibly dubious:

> it may reveal proprietary information about the machine setup, product design, tools, etc.
> it may have become part of that employee's employment file, thereby making it personnel data, which is confidential

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Fired for documenting accidents

There are companies that fire people for documenting their own work. It's a way of avoiding ever having anything to turn over for legal 'discovery.' Mostly it's on a short delay - delete all e-mails over 30 days or 90 days old, that sort of thing.

In this case, it's also about potential effect of associating the company with an ugly incident, which is bad advertising, unless you are selling safety equipment and training.

RE: Fired for documenting accidents

We have the automatic deletion of emails. It's irritating when you lose something you wanted to keep, but we can't really blame anyone but ourselves if we forget to file something important.

RE: Fired for documenting accidents

IRS: Use the *.pst files all the time... also when project closes, I run a *.pdf copy of the project (less attachments) and dump a copy of the *.pdf into the project folder and keep a copy for my own records. I also have an attachment folder.

Should have added... this is contrary to company policy...

Dik

RE: Fired for documenting accidents

Does Outlook still burp and lose _all_ of a .pst file's contents as the file nears 2Gb or so?

Just curious; I loved Outlook, but now I would only use it at gunpoint.


Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Fired for documenting accidents

Not encountered that, Mike, but my files are less than 2GB...

Dik

RE: Fired for documenting accidents

IRStuff, Group Policy these days is quite capable of disabling the archive to .pst file.

The root of the problem is that email inboxes are not meant to be used as long term storage of correspondence, but everyone seems to do it anyway.

EDMS Australia

RE: Fired for documenting accidents

If the *.pst file wasn't created, then I would simply print it as a *.pdf file... it would get saved one way or another.

Dik

RE: Fired for documenting accidents

I suspect the thread title is misleading. The perp wasn't fired, he wasn't even warned by his company that we know of. The chances are the public dissemination of internal documentation is mentioned in his contract of employment, for instance I know that I shouldn't post photos I take inside company facilities unless it is cleared with management, even if a lot of tomato ketchup is involved.

Cheers

Greg Locock


New here? Try reading these, they might help FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?

RE: Fired for documenting accidents

FreddyNurk,

Group Policy is a pain in the ass. winky smile

RE: Fired for documenting accidents

ScottyUK, I suppose it depends on what is being achieved by Group Policy and how it gets implemented. For standardisation of software deployments and configuration, it can be quite handy.

When the policy is configured such that it stops you from doing your work, its a pain in the ass. Luckily I now work somewhere where GP is used but doesn't get in the way.

I've heard a few horror stories from IT regarding misconfigured .pst files, so I do have some sympathy for people having to use such things. One was a .pst that grew too large for the storage location, so they migrated it to a memory stick, which corrupted itself, and because it was configured as POP3 there was no copy on the server. The 2Gb limit is another one.

EDMS Australia

RE: Fired for documenting accidents

I agree Freddy. Sometimes it feels like IT's goals aren't always closely aligned with those of their customers.

RE: Fired for documenting accidents

Fun fact for USB based memory sticks - they have a general-purpose micro controller with it's own RAM and non-volatile memory to manage the communications between the USB port and the flash memory. The cheap counterfeit ones lie about how much memory they actually have, but will report successfully writing the data. For example they can report there is 32GB capacity, but there's only 16 GB. Let the OS maintain the directory and just over-write existing files with new ones when it gets full.

While the same sort of thing might happen with rotating medium hard-drives, the difficulty in building the mechanical mechanism for those is so much higher than buying some highly available chips and programming and soldering up a nasty little piece of work.

Also possible - the USB drive initially posts to Windows as a memory stick. Then it waits a while and adds itself as a keyboard and a mouse; fires up a browser session or a CMD window and then goes to town, perhaps finally opening a network connection and shipping every bit of data it can get. Or patching in some other bit of code. And it can hold a ton of stuff in an area of flash that the OS cannot see because the microcontroller keeps it hidden.

This is why some places epoxy the USB ports. Not just because users might steal company secrets or some such, but to prevent an inside attack.

RE: Fired for documenting accidents

(OP)
Here's an example USB stick controller... not quite general purpose, but you get the idea:
http://www.siliconmotion.com/A3.2_Overview_Detail....

Back to the original subject, some more detail: The photo taker was a coworker, and the photos were published with permission of the employee (both statements were made in the thread by the photog). The only "identifiable" photo was of the back of the guy's head where the injury occurred. From the comments posted, it appeared to be a number of BTDT folks warning against posting the pics, an the thread was deleted within 24 hours. I get the potential legal issues from the business side of things, but the scared reaction/warning from fellow machinists really surprised me.

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

RE: Fired for documenting accidents

The companies that think that email deletion protects them from legal discovery haven't been sued yet.
They will make you go back through off site backups and reconstruct histories.
And if anything was deleted after the beginning of an incident then you will simply be charged with willful obstruction.

Similar things are true with safety issues. If someone posted information before the accident was formally reported, or if the posted info differed from the report there could be compliance and/or liability issues.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
P.E. Metallurgy, Plymouth Tube

RE: Fired for documenting accidents

EdStainless,

On my last day after being laid off, I went through my file drawer and I found and copied a memo I hand wrote the better part of thirty years ago, describing a serious safety hazard. The hazard was corrected, but it showed off a general attitude that could come back to haunt them. As an organization, you have some control over internal emails, and that is about it.

--
JHG

RE: Fired for documenting accidents

And lets not forget your "Atta-Boy" file, which always comes in handy when you need to respond to an "Ah-S@#T" moment winky smile

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: Fired for documenting accidents

The issue likely isn't someone documenting an accident but rather sharing it publicly. Most shops have pretty strict photo policies, get caught taking an unauthorized photo or even using an unauthorized camera to take authorized pics results in instant termination due to IP or ITAR concerns. A previous employer won a court case about ten years ago now after security confiscated and wiped the phone/camera of a visitor caught taking pictures.

FWIW, I saw a photo like you described posted on several facebook machinist groups and practicalmachinist last week(?), its becoming a popular meme.

RE: Fired for documenting accidents

I'm not seeing the problem with that you are describing. You can often find accident investigation reports that were made public so they could be used as learning tools. What you describe sounds like info similar to such a report.

RE: Fired for documenting accidents

That's why I always ask... been in some areas where a strobe can cause a detonation... or a poor electrical connection. Companies often have explosion proof cameras to use and they download the images, review them, and give you a copy.

Dik

RE: Fired for documenting accidents

"You can often find accident investigation reports that were made public so they could be used as learning tools. What you describe sounds like info similar to such a report."

I think that if the OP's example were from such a report, the only violation might be a slap-on-the-wrist type. But, an unofficial, unpublished, snippet is a wholly separate issue.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Fired for documenting accidents

If the claim about having employee permission to post the accident report info was true, then it wasn't something being shared unofficially. There shouldn't be much concern about being fired when the employee gave permission to post.

RE: Fired for documenting accidents

Just because the subject of the photo agreed doesn't mean that the company agreed. It's not necessarily different than the firing of ESPN commentators for making personal remarks outside of work.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Fired for documenting accidents

Quote (MacGyverS2000)

Back to the original subject, some more detail: The photo taker was a coworker, and the photos were published with permission of the employee (both statements were made in the thread by the photog). The only "identifiable" photo was of the back of the guy's head where the injury occurred. From the comments posted, it appeared to be a number of BTDT folks warning against posting the pics, an the thread was deleted within 24 hours. I get the potential legal issues from the business side of things, but the scared reaction/warning from fellow machinists really surprised me.

Yes, I see it was just the employee, not the employer giving permission.

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