Monday, July 03, 2006

City Fires Key Utility Department Personnel

In an effort to be unfair and shoot themselves in the foot(an euphemism), the city recently fired(told to quit) two employees. The only remaining worker in their Industrial Pretreatment program is gone. Then, a replacement quit soon after starting in the job. Industrial pretreatment is not a drinking water issue, at least not directly. Requiring businesses to clean or neutralize effluent before entering the city’s sewage system is the responsibility of this program.. It’s only relevance to this blog, is to point out the city’s neglect of programs to the extent that continuity and program knowledge is lost. Who is going to tell the new hire how to do the job? The answer is a supervisor who knows only a general outline of the job, many of the working details must be reinvented. Also, the person told to quit or be fired, for a real or perceived infraction, was not subjected to progressive and measured discipline as agreed to in the contract with the union.

The other employee had a position very critical to the water treatment plant. The electronics technician was “let go” after involvement in a physical fight. Again, the City did not take a measured or progressive disciplinary action. All of the electronics – every control of every component in the plant was installed or modified by this one man. Only he knows the details of these electronic devices. The work was overwhelming for one man. He could not keep up. The city did not see fit to hire even one more electronics tech - there was enough work for three! Now he is gone. The new person for that department will not be privy to the modifications done to the electronics hardware and programming. The new tech will have to scrap many if not all of the plant controls as they fail. The failure rate has been high. The cost to the city will also be very expensive.

Plant tour of March 3rd

The January 30 tour was given to a representative of the labor union. He simply pass the information on to the shop steward. To my knowledge, action by the labor union stopped there.

So, I again set up a tour, this time with the City of West Palm Beach Risk Management Department.

This is the agenda I gave them for the tour:

Risk Management tour of the Water Treatment Plant
March 3, 2006
4:30 PM


Agenda:
Wear proper attire and foot ware for a factory tour. You will be walking on steel gratings and open stringer stairways. Some areas have chemicals, dirt or cobwebs. The possibility of clothing damage exists.
Topic is “hazards to employees.”
Trip hazards: Hoses, pipes, open hatches and wires in walkways.
Violation of confined space rules. Re: high service pump #2, hand actuated valve access.
Chemical hazards. Ozone machinery room ozone leaks. Chlorine ton cylinder room is a dangerous anachronism. Most water treatment facilities have switched to chlorine bleach as a primary disinfectant.
.Disease hazards. Sludge press personnel handle sedimentation sludge that is not chlorine disinfected. (Ozone generation is only sufficient for periodic backwash water recovery.)
Condition of the filter media.