Introduction: Safety on Work Sites in Odd/ 3rd World/ War Zone Locations

About: I am an expat Environmental, Health and Safety manager (aka the Safety Guy) that has somehow spiraled into a specialty of setting up programs systems on very odd projects, or fixing strange/ unusual/ challengi…

Safety on any relatively untamed" work site can be especially difficult. Especially if you are on a site in a remote gosh forsaken location, working with untrained personnel, or supervising workers with communication/ cultural challenges (like no english language skills).

1) the first sign is a GREAT example of showing people how to do the right thing.

2) the other sign just makes me laugh. Where do they find those gansta 3 year old kids with cigarettes and knives?

Step 1: Your Personal Protective Equipment

You need to understand your working environment and choose the appropriate PPE.

In one of the pictures you see me wearing body armor and a helmet. This is because I was flying on a military flight and they take fire in war zones, despite the best efforts of the military, when taking off and landing.

In the second you see me & two of my cohorts in crime (Rene & Larry) wearing reflective belts. This is because on military bases one of the greatest dangers is getting RUN OVER. Because 1) Armored vehicles are hard to see out of, 2) Often the base is pitch dark due to sniper or indirect fire hazards, 3) Many bases don't have sidewalks and 4) Everyone walks to every where!

in the final pic you see one of my guys doing the right thing by wearing ALL the needed PPE for welding on armor plate (the fumes that come off that stuff!). You would not believe how many people are willing to put their life in danger because they aren't willing to take the time, ON THE CLOCK, to do the right thing.

Step 2: Your Working Environment

You also need to make sure the working environment has the basic items to prevent or mitigate injuries.

1) A way to wash your eyes out if you are using chemicals or tools. The Norwegians had all their safety stuff together in one convenient location.

2) The proper means to ground your tools. UNIVERSAL ADAPTORS are NOT uniformly adept at grounding circuits. KNOW what you are doing or ask someone that should know (like the electrician) about adaptors when you have to use them. The one shown is particular to "German Style" grounded plugs.

3) Welding screens. Any basically flame resistant tarp will do IF it blocks UV and IR. If you don't know you need to consult an Industrial Hygienist or buy one designed for the purpose.

4) Electrical panels should be guarded and not have random stuff piled next to them.

5) the outline was a joke. No one was killed there.

6) Yes, those are wild poppies growing on the perimeter Hesco. The same kind of flowers opium comes from. And YES, that is the outside wall with potential bad people out there...

Step 3: Your Lifestyle

Your, and your coworkers, lifestyles can impact your safety.

1) Daily showers should be REQUIRED. Many third world countries do NOT have this habit, often because they don't have running (or heated) water in their homes. If the only option is a cold shower the correct answer is TOO BAD, EVERYONE SHOWERS EVERY DAY.

2) Clean clothes, especially those directly next to the skin, are required daily. Again, customs vary. But wearing clothes that are dirty or chemically tainted is a bad thing. I was the Industrial Hygienist for the MRAP program and had to get quite firm in directing a change in attitude...

3) If co-workers cannot be trained to use a potty properly, it is a good idea to get some "Eastern Style" toilets.

4) Eat properly. Many of these kind of sites have long work hours and a bad climate to boot. Eating "chokies" cookies probably isn't the best idea.

Step 4: Working Environment

Make sure you understand a few things.

1) Power tools by definition are POWERFUL and will tear you up without slowing down much.

2) Military vehicles hydraulics will MAIM you if you don't make sure you install and work with them properly See the MRAP with the steps next to it? A worker was sitting on the platform and installed a tiny part upside down. So when she PUSHED the power closure lever it PUSHED BACK and hurt the heck out of her leg.

3) Military members may be a bit rushed. CHECK for ammunition before you get to work. If you find any make the military come back and get it. The special forces people are the worst about this. See the pic? All that came out of ONE MRAP that we were supposed to be working on. And NO, that is NOT a purple smoke grenade; there is only violet smoke in this man's army. And see the machine gun they left on the ATV in the motor pool by mistake? This was pointed out to me by one of my employees. Named Hassan Abu Mohammed.

4) You ALWAYS have time to plan to do it right. MOST of the time it's actually FASTER to do it right than to just fake it and then correct your mistakes later... This ramp for example my retrograde motor pol built in RC North. I TOLD them to put on some side rails... The other pic is us getting a party for production & safety in RC center.

5) Dress for the weather. See Lynn when I was mentoring her? She was over 60, but dressed appropriately so she stayed healthy...

Step 5: Chemicals

Store & dispose of chemicals properly!

Ideally of course, you have a set of "flame lockers" and "haz conexes." If you don't have the "store bought items you can BUILD acceptable substitutes with little effort.

It's cheaper to properly store & dispose of chemicals than to clean up hundreds of cubic yards of contaminated soil. I have dealt with this exact issue and it is NOT funny to get dunned for shipping several HUNDRED TONS of contaminated soil to a landfill.

NEVER ever take possession of a contaminated site. If they want to hand off the workshop to you, and it has a bad POL disposal set up, BUILD YOUR OWN one away from theirs and don't EVER use theirs. If you use theirs ONCE you have bought it. Again, an issue I have dealt with on multiple locations.

Finally, you need to be able to work with the unit you are embedded with...

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