I have been holding back this post somewhat, basically to gather more information from other sources.
During this last week, the South West of the UK has been gripped in a ‘freeze’. Even when the air temps reach 11C (51F) the ground temperature rarely got above -5C (23F). As such from what started as a bit of snow 7 days ago, the overall situation just got worse.
I have already mentioned in an earlier post about it raining on ice creating an oiling effect. Every single operating base we use has now written off trucks and nearly every single Ex-Farm Bulker has been off the road and stuck in ditches, fields and in some cases water – not once, but several times.
The cost in vehicles alone and not to mention recovery costs will have by now exceeded around half a million £!
Then came Christmas Day morning… the air temp had finally risen and at 4am, what looked like normal safe ground became something I have never witnesses – it was ALL Ice, you simply could not stand up on any surface that you’d normally assume to be safe!!!
I found this out at 56mpg on the south bound M5 just south of Wellington, while moving to the 2nd lane to give more room to the emergency services to recover several cars from the hard shoulder – as I passed I lost control of my truck, the trailer went one way and the tractor unit went another. I do have a lot of Ice and Snow experience, but not that much on black ice in an articulated vehicle! While I have experienced black ice, I’d never experienced this total loss of control – and this video was pretty much watch saved me!
I regained control and continued – experiencing a further 5 instances of coming close to not only losing the truck, but also putting others at serious risk for their lives…
Now, I’m not gonna sit here and whinge, nor am I gonna claim to be any kind of a good driver. But it was fairly obvious to everyone that the conditions were totally unsuitable for the safe movement of just about everything!!
Yet, work continued, people were expected to carry on. Whether it is a Bull S*it pride thing with drivers of the complete and utter stupidity of managers (probably both) the work continued.
On my way home I wrote a text to WKD to tell her NOT to come in, but the thing was that I knew her phone would be off and even if it wasn’t – she had a house full of Christmas guests.
For whatever reason it was I did not send the text – and I should have done!!
You see, I have this very weird skill, at gut instinct you could say. But whatever it is – it IS 100% accurate and some of you reading this will already know what I’m talking about. So If I ever call any of you and say something like you need down time now! Or in this case – don’t go to work because it’s too treacherous – Don’t f’k about, do what I tell you, because what ever it is you do – it isn’t worth dying for!!
How accurate am I? Accurate enough for it to have earned me money!!
When I woke up later on Christmas day, I got a couple of phone calls giving me what could only be described as nothing short of an encyclopaedia of disaster before returning myself to work for 4:30pm – based in the knowledge that much of the main ice had thawed…
At this point and when talking to WKD, I had no knowledge of what had happened to her during the day (I mentioned this interaction in the hohoho post below).
Anyway, WKD IS probably the best driver we have, she can do things so naturally with a truck it begs belief – I don’t think she realises how good she is, but she is very well respected.
So when she loses traction and goes sailing backwards at speed straight through what would ordinarily be a very busy road junction and not coming to a halt for quite some distance (saved by the fact there was little traffic due to it being Christmas Day) then you know that we should no longer be on the road AT ALL!!!
Airing this incident to managers on her return to base – she went out again…
Now, this is not just about WKD, but this is where I draw a line, and this line has consequences the likes of which I don’t wish to put into writing and you really don’t want to read – But, here goes…
I have listened to, too many stories this week of people being told to go out in trucks onto roads and lanes you wouldn’t even try to crawl down on your hands and knees! Yes, they say “If you’re not sure then don’t do it” but in reality they say “well someone’s got to go” or the best one is “well give it a try”… (These drivers spend years hauling these trucks around some shockingly tight roads and lanes, they have skills behind the wheel I can’t even conceive of, so when they say it’s a no go – then you can bank on it!!)
This is tantamount to asking someone to run at armed police with a loaded gun. It is outside of and does not even come close to a Duty of Care and I will not have it.
If you are pressured in any way and especially by insinuation to go out or try to get into a place where you have expressed any doubt or fear of doing so, the person or persons are putting your your life and putting members of the general public lives at risk.
If they put you in fear of your life – then welcome to my world!! Because I have no qualms in returning this favour – no matter what the cost. If anyone puts a colleague or team member in fear of their personal safety outside of a combat zone, in doing so breaking just about every law you can imagine… there is no law in this land that will protect you from what I most certainly will do and have a high level of proven proficiency in – to you.
Now there used to be a adverse weather system in place whereby a farmer would put his milk in a tank and tow it down to a good road with his tractor and meet the Bulker – but apparently this is now against EU regulations.
Well stuff the EU regs if it puts people at risk of injury or death!!
Now just to back up a little here, we’re not talking snow, heck it we were – a set of 8 chains would solve this problem straight away!! Ice on the other hand needs studded tires – isn’t quite true. You see studded tire technology is a 1960’s system and since then tire compounds have changed greatly. Infact they called them ‘Stud-less Ice Tires’ now and are basically a standard tyre made of a very special compound.
YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES ARE THESE:
Your personal safety – you go to work to make your life better, not lose it for trying to earn money to put food on your table!!
Managers etc – your FIRST job is the care, safety and wellbeing of your staff, team and employees!! The job comes last!! It is a CRIMINAL offence not to do so and it will invoke a guaranteed insurmountable and slow destruction of every aspect of your life by me if you do the contrary to people I deem my colleagues and possibly friends.
Make sure you have the right PPE (personal protective equipment) this includes ice grips for your boots!!
There is something we can ALL do in the UK and this to simply call RIDDOR… It’s part of the HSE and a place you can report anything and everything. While they will take your details, they will not give these details to your employer. What they will do is investigate and basically make employers get their respective asses together.
There contact info is below and while there is a legal requirement for you to report stuff to them as of the 1st January I’ll be making a lot of inroads in their direction.
You can contact RIDDOR on 0845 300 99 23
Or visit their website at http://www.hse.gov.uk/riddor/riddor.htm