It’s always a nice feeling when management tells me that they are concerned about my safety and they don’t want me to get hurt. It gets slightly less warm and fuzzy when management says that the only reason they are putting safety policies in place is so that they don’t have to pay for anyone’s injuries. Sure, we all know that businesses don’t want to pay extra for avoidable employee issues, but I’m actually fond of the illusion that they want to protect us because they value us as people.
There’s a common blood test, basically a test for anemia, that we run frequently in animal hospitals. It requires us to put a small amount of blood into some small glass tubes, pushing the tube into some clay to stop up the end, and spinning the tubes in a centrifuge. In the second part of the test, we have to break the glass tube in half and empty part of onto a separate surface. Sure, breaking glass tubes could lead to accidents, but in the ten years I have been running these tests, dozens of them a week, I have never gotten glass in my finger, and I have never been trained to use protective equipment. I actually have never worked with anyone who has injured themselves. I guess that as veterinary technicians, we perform a lot of delicate procedures that have life/death consequences for mistakes, so we know how to be careful.
However, in the six months I have been working at my current clinic, two people have been sent to urgent care clinics with these tiny glass tubes impaled in their fingers. We proved that we cannot be trusted with glass, and the company is tired of paying for our doctor visits.
This week we got an e-mail from management saying that we are all now required to wear rubber finger protectors when running these blood tests, and that we would receive disciplinary action plans (I love HR words) if we were caught without them. I am all for protecting my body from broken glass tubes. I actually wonder why no one else suggested it at any point in the last ten years.
Yesterday I needed to run one of these blood tests on a patient who had anemia. I went to find the new protective gear management had provided. They looked like rubber thimbles. They looked so safe that they made me want to break a glass tube into my finger on purpose just because I knew it wouldn’t hurt me. But I looked a little closer and noticed that the thimbles had small holes all around them.
Just the right size for…
I responded to the company-wide warning e-mail by including this picture and telling everyone to use caution with the new protective gear. I will probably get in trouble for being passive aggressive or undermining authority when I simply found myself hilarious.
The problem is that no one there thinks I’m funny. When someone cuts their protected finger with a broken glass tube, it will be my fault.