Hazardous communications from OSHA


Just me and one other bloke

Were the ones who caught onto the joke

I’m not quite the lone ranger

Who thinks that the danger

Of boredom might be a stroke

Synopsis:  I’m a family practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa.  I danced back from the brink of burnout in 2010, and, honoring a one-year non-compete clause, had adventures working in out-of-the-way locations.  After jobs in Alaska, New Zealand, Iowa, and Nebraska, I returned home and took up a part-time, 54 hour a week position with a Community Health Center.  Since August I’ve done a working vacation in Petersburg, Alaska, Continuing Medical Education (CME) in San Diego and Denver, and a trip to Mexico for our daughter’s wedding.

Our clinic runs an All Staff meeting the first Thursday of every month, which included two segments of required training, one on harassment and one mandated by OSHA for health care facilities.

I have seen the OSHA video, copyright 2007, twice before.  Its cognitive content takes less than one-third of its running time.  As the poorly written dialogue progresses, people in the room lose interest.  Soon the murmur of polite whispers permeates the room.  Attention drifts.  I daydream but I don’t get out my smart phone to check my email.  One of the docs at the next table starts working on clinical documentation, and I don’t blame her.

For unknown reasons I look up at the screen at the moment it displays two words:  HAZARDOUS COMMUNICATIONS.

I hadn’t thought about it, but I suppose communications could be hazardous, especially if incomplete, ill-intentioned, or dysfunctional.  I don’t remember anything about communications from previous viewings.  But if that header has accuracy, why would the artwork include pictures of chemistry glassware?  I turn to the nurse next to me and point out the words on the screen.  She hadn’t been watching, either, but she smiles.  I look around to find no one looking at the program.

I decide that hazardous communications include those from OSHA and other regulatory bodies who think that making us watch boring, inaccurate and out of date videos will result in something positive.

The video continues on with five minutes devoted to weak humor involving picric acid.  A few people glance at the screen, but most are chatting just above a whisper and filling out the test questions.

Of the roughly 150 people in the room, the vast majority have seen the program more than three times.

The next speaker on the agenda points out the mistake.

What a shame that only two of us caught the joke.

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