Thursday, 29 March 2012

Spy in the cab

The driving in Saudi is notoriously bad, they drive very fast, with no regard to others and usually while smoking or on the phone. After 3 years of driving in Libya, it was no problem for me to adapt and I find it harder to drive in the UK now.
However my current employer is very strict on safety and everyone must pass a defensive driving course before being given a company licence and being allowed to drive here. There's a driving test in a vehicle fitted with cameras to assess your use of mirrors and accelerometers to judge the weight of your right foot. There's a day in the classroom and some written tests to reinforce safety and better driving techniques. Despite my initial scepticism, I do believe it is a better way of driving rather than the slightly aggressive tactics I'd picked up in Libya. I'm now quite happy for the local idiots to squeeze between my car and the concrete barrier at 180kph+ with barely inches to spare on each side. I drive a nice big 4x4 and whilst they may cause some damage to the paint if they ricochet off the wall into me, I have as much faith in the car's air bags as they do in their chosen deity to believe that I will be the one walking away.  
All company vehicles are fitted with a GPS & personal I.D. key thing so that our driving is monitored -  every month they publish the top 10 best/worst drivers. Serious violations and multiple minor infringements will mean you lose your licence and therefore your job. If I speed, my boss gets an e mail before I get to the office to receive my warning.

I'm not sure of everything it measures but believe it includes:

  1. Speeding (110 kph+)
  2. No seat belt
  3. Harsh braking
  4. Aggressive accelerating 
  5. Listening to Shania Twain  
  6. Passengers adjusting the a/c when driver has told them not to touch it unless they want to walk
  7. Dark thoughts
As good a system as it is, it cannot measure:
  1. Driving at the right speed for the conditions
  2. Using your mirrors & indicators
  3. How close the local is behind you, flashing his lights because he's in a hurry to get somewhere to do bugger all

Sunday, 11 March 2012


The latest focus at work is the drive to ensure that 100% of our workers have completed the mandatory on line safety training courses in topics such as “working at heights” and “hearing protection”.
Each course takes about an hour and there’s a quiz at the end of each, requiring a score of 80% or more to pass. As all of the courses are in English, we know that many of the local guys are just clicking through the slides quickly and attempting the quiz so many times that eventually they will pass, although they won’t know why they passed.

I have to do the training as well, so attempted one of the subjects the other night, not really paying attention and hoping I’d be able to work out the answers.
By question 12, I’d got enough wrong to know that I’d fail overall, so there was no point in continuing.
But in my defence, the questions were designed to trip you up and were all along the lines of:

Which of the following is not a false statement ?

(a)    Mechanical guards are not a primary safety barrier
(b)   Isolation of equipment is not the first step in the lock out procedure
(c)    A written permit is always required prior to securing a machine
(d)   None of the above

So now it’s a logic game: a not false statement = a true statement, so  (d) none of the above,  means none of the above are not ‘not false’ and so all are false .

I think.

I still have 10 of these courses to do in the luxury of “my own time”. 
This is the short period of time in the day when I’m not at work, not working at home, not driving to/from work or sleeping. My days remind me of the minister in the program “The Thick Of It”, who looks forwards to his daily ablutions as it’s the only bit of "quality time" he gets to himself.

Luckily the wireless connection works in every room.