My report of the sulfuric acid spill took four type written pages and a follow up the next morning with our regional director of operations and our safety guy.
I won't bore you with all the details and minutia...
but I basically got told to hook here and we'll watch the gauge inside and tell you when to shut it down.
they didn't. the load ended with me running and busting the safety valve off the internal to shut everything off (geyser of sulfuric coming from the customer tank)
the customer missed this portion of the escapade but saw me turning off the external valve and came over and told me, no no your fine keep pumping. I wasn't fine and had to convince the guy we were done by showing him the spill. still not sure how he didn't see it.
their immediate plan was for me to clean out and head to a second tank location to finish unloading.
earlier while unloading but prior to the spill there had been four customer safety auditors walking around my unloading area with no ppe on whatsoever, talking and taking notes and ignoring my admonishments of you guys really shouldn't be here while I'm unloading.
after the spill, the guy that was right there, (mr."no no you're fine keep pumping") he was actually (according to him) in the process of walking back behind the tank to visually confirm the control room gauge readings.
If he'd have been anywhere from 15-30 seconds earlier, he'd likely be dead right now or severely severly burned from standing under the over-fill pipe when it over filled with zero ppe on.
my afternoon wasn't going well, I didn't like the; setup, the location, the wind direction, the distance to any available water. No single thing made me think I shouldn't unload but collectively it was all just enough to make me edgey.
not much was actually spilled because I was right there full ppe but 5 seconds at 30psi will still get your attention.
It got my attention and was a nervous wreck afterwards. I stowed my hoses and called the boss saying I'd had enough I just want to come home. I don't feel safe and I don't feel safe continuing.
he called his boss who called me, I explained what was going on and he did his very best shrink impression (LOL) its all going to fine.... just take a deep breath... can you finish the unload ? NO, I don't feel safe.
Ok, stay put in a safe area, let me get my boss informed and also the shipper so we're all on the same page.
meanwhile the onsite customer was having second thoughts also... we don't want the rest of this load we've got problems enough right now. (N.S.)
My phone rang and my bosses boss asked you don't feel safe? I said no I don't. he said then your good to come home and we'll deal with it later. (whew... whew... and whew...) we talked a few more about what had gone on and was I safe right now, just excited, was I ok to drive or did I need a ride?
nope I was all good just at my breaking point or last straw??? everytime you turn a valve you're taking some small chance that things won't go as planned... you need to have confidence that things are in good working order and that you're mentally fit to react if they go wrong.
I was fine with me, fine with my truck, fine with my company, I had however totally lost all confidense in the customers equipment and ability to keep me and themselves safe. I was done.
took some pictures, got my paperwork signed and headed home.
the safety meeting follow-up the next day:
the first 30 minutes was ok, the second thirty was tedious and the last 30... I just wanted out of the danged office and back on the road.... lol
told my story, got asked questions, got patted on the back for a thorough write up of events.
was issued all new ppe. mine seemed fine, I mean I didn't get burned right? but the safety guy said... nahhh.... take the new stuff (about $1500 bucks worth) turn in your old, we'll get it properly cleaned and inspected. if there are even small pin holes in it its basically junk because it won't protect you the next time if chemicals are leaking thru to your skin.
makes sense to me.
where Questliner shined:
I know I was being a wuss. I know it now and I knew it then. but at the time I simply did not feel safe. I was riding the wussy train... wussa wussa wuss... wussss wuuuusssssss (mocking train whistle).
my primary goal, believe it or not, is not hauling chemicals or laying down miles or making the most I can wring out... its supporting my family (period). If I could do it from bed watching t.v. I would but I can't. but I also can't if I'm hurt or dead.
Questliner shined by calmly dealing with me in a slow and articulate fashion. They didn't push me or threaten me or my job (oh yeah a lot runs thru your head when you are sitting there paranoid about how bad it is or can get before the sun goes down). They gathered as much info as they could over the phone about what I saw and felt. they tried to pin down reasonable facts and notify the shipper that there had been a problem, what the problem was and that it was in the best interest of all to simply call this one done until further investigation.
Hearing: Your clear to head home, can you drive or do you need a ride, don't worry get home safe, get dinner, a shower, some sack time...
that means alot when for the most part... drivers feel they are out here all alone. I had some back up when I needed it.
further: the rehash of events the next day went ok. I wasn't grilled, tag-teamed, or have a spot light in my face.
truthfully, i have no experience at the day after but I was waiting for "what the hell were you thinking why didn't you just bump over and finish the unload you cost us thousands of dollars and we're writing you up for being a wuss." (lol now)
that never came up. the questions or statements were... are you hurt, are you ok, how far away was water, did the emergency shut off slam the internal shut like its supposed to when you hit it... how long did it take to inform the customer, what was their response and response time, how long until you called us? how long did it take us to call back, how long to get a final decision?
now I'm sure the conversation would have gone much differently if I was hooked to the wrong pipe and sleeping in the cab while wearing shorts when the fan went out of balance...
but I was doing what I was supposed to be doing...
so... I'm still employeed, I feel like my company has my back, and that ppe is definately worth wearing because it will save your bacon when everything else is working against you.