Saturday, June 03, 2006

Workplace Safety in Bucharest - What's that?

This is my friend Alex. Alex is an avionics technician at the company I'm working with. As a young technician, Alex earns about $200 US per month. However, Alex has not been working on aircraft electronics for the last couple of days. Instead, his job has been to clean the bottom of the airplane, by hand.

Alex is cleaning the aircraft with Benzene. Except for gloves and white coveralls, Alex has no other protective equipment. Benzene is nasty stuff - Here's just a portion of the negative health effects of Benzene:

Benzene exposure has serious health effects. It is a known carcinogen, it is highly toxic and it is very flammable as well. Breathing very high levels of benzene can result in death, while high levels can cause drowsiness, dizziness, rapid heart rate, headaches, tremors, confusion, and unconsciousness. OSHA has set a permissible exposure limit of 1 part of benzene per million parts of air (1 ppm) in the workplace during an 8-hour workday, 40-hour workweek. Of course, we are in Romania, so OSHA is out of picture.

The sad part is that the company actually has safety procedures written down for this work. They just don't follow them. I asked Alex and his friends why the company is not following the procedures and providing them with the proper equipment. I told them that we treated criminals in the U.S. better than this. The answer to my question was this: "Steve, remember, we are in Romania"

Update on lonely Stephen

Ha ha ha. In case anyone is wondering, I'm doing ok. A week has already gone by since Dana and Maria returned to the states. We will meeting up in New York on June 30, where we will stay for a week with my folks and visit the Jutton side of the family. So, it won't be long.

Work is still painfully slow due to the lack of parts. Supposedly a partial solution is in place and we will start receiving shipments again later this month - then again, I've heard this before.

Fun drive home Friday

The only other interesting thing this week was my drive home Friday. I got a phone call at work from the car leasing company, and they wanted to service my cool car (Renault Megane 4-door, automatic transmission). The only problem was that it would not be ready until after I left work. So, the guy that picked up my car, gave me his:

This "car" is made by Daewoo. You may recognize the company as they also make stereo equipment. As you can see, this car is not much bigger than a stereo.

Not only is this car not much bigger than a child's toy, I don't think it has an engine. I think it's hamster-powered. Now I'm not a big car fanatic, but you know, when I step on the gas, I expect to see movement. To make matters worse, it has a manual transmission. So, I had a really exciting drive home.

Stephen hops on his soap box

This car has two redeeming qualities: (1) It fits nicely on these narrow European roads and (2) its really easy to park. Although these two things are nice, this car is as much fun to drive as a visit to the dentist for a root canal. The left-wing environmental wackos in the US want everyone to drive cars like these so we can save the planet from global warming. Personally, I don't care what Al Gore says; We will be growing oranges & pineapples above the Arctic Circle before I ever buy one of these. I'll just wait 10-15 years for the next generation hybrid (FULL SIZE) thank you.