In general each of these Tales stands alone, but this is the first of four Tales that are linked. The other three are Red Card, Corrosion and Blowout. All relate to the same major oil company. They may add up to more than the sum of their parts.
A friend of mine was at a business meeting at a client’s office. During a break, he went to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee. The kitchen was on the floor below, so he had to go down two flights of stairs.
As he climbed back up the steps, plastic cup in hand, three people he did not know appeared, each waving a yellow card in his face, like three football referees. Nonplussed, he asked them what this was about.
They explained that this was a new corporate initiative, designed to raise the profile of health and safety in the company and, presumably, to make its operations safer.
Each member of staff was given a yellow card and a red card. The yellow card is shown when the staff member has a concern about a safety issue. The red card is shown when there is an imminent danger to life or property. Every time a card is shown, this is recorded in writing and reported to the company’s health and safety department.
Each member of staff has a performance contract, and this requires him or her to issue a certain number of yellow and red cards each year.
Their health and safety concern in this case is that my friend is carrying a cup of hot coffee up a flight of stairs, without a lid on the cup.
My friend returned to the kitchen and put a lid on the cup. He was then asked to countersign a written report of the incident, describing what has happened and confirming that the safety incident has been satisfactorily dealt with.
All of this took about twenty minutes, by which time his coffee was cold.