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Old 13.02.2020, 18:37
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Fachhochschüle health and safety gone mad

My sprog is doing a degree at the local FH, which involves working in a chemical laboratory. Naturally safety is very important.

At the beginning of the first semester, all the students were supposed to attend a safety briefing concerning good laboratory practice. They were invited to this briefing before the semester started. Unfortunately, some students still managed to miss the sessions for various reasons using involving spurious reasons. I.e. they forgot. Silly students.

It's a policy that all students must attend this briefing. So naturally, the students who missed it must, somehow, make up for it. The way this was done was that students were sent an email containing a list of questions (concerning lab practice and H&S at the FH). They had to answer these questions, and submit them by a specific date - otherwise, they wouldn't be able to continue their studies.

They did this, but unfortunately (again!), not one of them answered all the questions as fully as the head of department wanted. So just before their exams, when they're all highly stressed already, they received emails informing them of this and that they had to submit corrected answers by the end of the semester.

Unfortunately ... some students felt they'd get the exams out of the way first, and so didn't submit their revised answers early enough. So they were summoned to the head's office, told off, and instructed to submit their corrected and correct answers by the end of next week. Which is the last day of the semester... Yeah - my daughter is one of these.

Here's the kicker. Some students turned up for the briefing day, took their badges and then departed. The students who did stay for the duration were not tested on their knowledge (and naturally have now forgotten most of it). It seems the criteria for having passed the safety briefing is to have appeared to have been there. Or take a test that requires 100% score, and quite a few hours research.

And I should mention that the manual where all this information is supposed to be is incomplete. The latest version already has been annotated (presumably by a faculty member) with comments like:
  • Do we do this?
  • This part makes no sense.
  • This bit is really unclear.
There's a new head guy at the FH - apparently he's making reforms to the processes and procedures. I hope he can fix this idiotic box ticking! The upshot is that the kids who didn't attend the safety briefing initially are probably more knowledgeable about good practice than any of the other students.

TL;DR At a Fachhochschule you must either appear to have attended a safety briefing (they just count the number of badges not taken at the end of the day), or you must go through several iterations of a onerous procedure.




Now I'll wait for the responses about how important H&S, and how it's all reasonable and how it's all the students' fault...
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Old 13.02.2020, 18:48
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Re: Fachhochschüle health and safety gone mad

Congrats to your child studying extra and being very knowledgeable about health and safety procedures.

Rule no. 1 - don't skip training (we also call it Gesichtkurz back home)

Rule no. 2 - when protocol changes, there is a momentum and a time window needed to have things settled and be reasonable again

Rule no. 3 - I forgot. I don't like lists. Oh yeah - it is awesome when parents are supportive and understanding, most parents have no idea what's happening

Is this what you expected?
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Old 13.02.2020, 18:48
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Re: Fachhochschüle health and safety gone mad

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TL;DR At a Fachhochschule you must either appear to have attended a safety briefing (they just count the number of badges not taken at the end of the day), or you must go through several iterations of a onerous procedure.




Now I'll wait for the responses about how important H&S, and how it's all reasonable and how it's all the students' fault...
Well you certainly can't blame anyone else, and I'd argue that this isn't anything "gone mad", just that those who thought they didn't need to bother attending are now learning their lesson the hard way.
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Old 13.02.2020, 18:58
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Re: Fachhochschüle health and safety gone mad

So your child has learned a life lesson. I would celebrate instead of complaining
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Old 14.02.2020, 09:56
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Re: Fachhochschüle health and safety gone mad

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Well you certainly can't blame anyone else, and I'd argue that this isn't anything "gone mad", just that those who thought they didn't need to bother attending are now learning their lesson the hard way.
Ah bless, the expected EF "missing the point entirely and devoid of humour" post. Well done. You win a small prize.

The madness is first a foremost a reference to the Express-like "It's Health and safety gone MAD!" Not meant to be taken seriously.

The thrust of the post is that the policy put in place is silly.
  • A briefing on H&S that's too easy to skip, but you're counted as qualified if you just sign in and then depart.
  • A backup procedure that's way more onerous, details and educational than the original one

From my experience with large organisations over the last thirty years (obviously I'm not communicating the full details in all their nuances - I'm no DB), this smacks of someone senior who's FUBAR'd, and is trying desperately to cover their bottoms, thereby making a mountain out of a molehill.

Quite entertaining really.
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Old 14.02.2020, 12:19
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Re: Fachhochschüle health and safety gone mad

Probably an insurance issue. They have to prove that they did the training and that all students were trained. As the easiest way to do that is to have people attend and confirm their attendance, the school really will want that to happen.

As soon as something can be done in one's own time, they will ask for a 100% rate since the student may have received help ...and also to punish them for not following instructions. Actually - mostly that.

I agree that there is a life lesson element here: Make sure to schedule all the school appointments well ahead of time and add them to the calendar. This is particularly important for the various group projects and the thesis as some of the deadlines are non-negotiable and clear but the planning/preparation can be very much implicit. Finally, if the deadline for handing in the paper is 14.02.2020 at 23.59, then one minute late is late. My ADHD self had to redo a few things because I really struggled with that concept at first...
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Old 14.02.2020, 12:24
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Re: Fachhochschüle health and safety gone mad

This. For the system the timing matters, extremely. To come up with results is important, but to come up with results in a timely, scheduled and measurable pace is even more important.

Looks like your kiddo was punished on purpose (telling her the mountain is a mountain, as per their definition, not a mole-hill) that what 1st years are for, anyway.
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Old 14.02.2020, 14:09
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Re: Fachhochschüle health and safety gone mad

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From my experience with large organisations over the last thirty years (obviously I'm not communicating the full details in all their nuances - I'm no DB), this smacks of someone senior who's FUBAR'd, and is trying desperately to cover their bottoms, thereby making a mountain out of a molehill.
That may very well be, but joking etc aside, it is very important for you kid to learn that this is a very serious subject if you work in a lab...

Although I work in IT and know very little about the scientific stuff, by office has been in the labs on the few occasions and have experienced two training session where serious errors were found and one live release...

- In one test the rescue team (employee volunteers) lost the body! They had the guy on the stretcher, but him down and somehow lost track of where they left him. A second team found the him again but decapitated him on the way out!!!

- In another exercise at another company, the fire brigade turned up with the wrong equipment - apparently they were given the correct information about the supposed release, but the forgot to check the equipment. At the lab it was discovered that the technicians did not take the sign-in/out rules very seriously and so they were not able to say how many people were on site nor how many where in the lab...

Of course that was nearly 30 years ago, so I'm sure they are much more careful now
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Old 14.02.2020, 14:50
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Re: Fachhochschüle health and safety gone mad

Yeah. Another devoid of humour post here, but I think the other posters actually had a point..Let you daughter solve her own problems. Let her ask her professors what's to be done in this situation, what she can do to improve it, what if she fails the test etc etc Let her negotiate and be worried sick for herself. I don't remember my parents asking me to study for my exams, or rushing to complain to their friends at the "injustices" of the system, or even worse - to the school/teachers/professors etc.
Don't give her any hope that your righteous indignation will help her in any way, shape or form. Not now or in similar future situations. I'm sorry if I sound too harsh, that's not my intention...Good luck to both of you.

Last edited by greenmount; 14.02.2020 at 15:01.
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Old 14.02.2020, 15:04
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Re: Fachhochschüle health and safety gone mad

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Yeah. Another devoid of humour post here
To say it if the words of DJ Khalid: Another one!

We really love Umlauts but please not in "Schule".
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Old 14.02.2020, 15:19
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Re: Fachhochschüle health and safety gone mad

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- In one test the rescue team (employee volunteers) lost the body! They had the guy on the stretcher, but him down and somehow lost track of where they left him. A second team found the him again but decapitated him on the way out!!!
reminded me of this
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Old 14.02.2020, 17:47
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Re: Fachhochschüle health and safety gone mad

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Probably an insurance issue. They have to prove that they did the training and that all students were trained.
I'd say... they failed, since attendance was not properly recorded. Pick up badge, then leave the building. Very stringent.

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That may very well be, but joking etc aside, it is very important for you kid to learn that this is a very serious subject if you work in a lab...
Of course it is, which is why the process is so utterly unfit for purpose. Fortunately, my dear darling daughter did three years apprenticeship in pharma, working in chemical laboratories, and thus holds certificates issued by Swiss authorities that she's properly trained. She already has the requisite knowledge and won't be a danger to anyone. Just didn't tick the process box.

Unlike little Johnny who just absconded after signing in!

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reminded me of this
Yes! That's exactly what the FH's process reminds me of!


Anyway, she's got her exam results, and she's done really well, except she's failed IT and will have to retake, so I've disinherited her as an embarrassment to her dad.
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Old 14.02.2020, 17:48
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Re: Fachhochschüle health and safety gone mad

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To say it if the words of DJ Khalid: Another one!

We really love Umlauts but please not in "Schule".
Oh poo. Can I plead a plural... ?

Edit: nope.
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