Odd Urinal Scenario


You know how it is when you see something and you just know that it’s a bad idea? Kind of like a parent watching your kids and you say “Watch out!” and the child is amazed you predicted they would wipe out. I saw something like that this week. It struck me as odd. It’s almost even odder blogging about it, but it just seemed so out of place. What was it? It was a roll of toilet paper sitting on top of the urinal.

urinal_photoOn my first visit to the urinal I was perplexed to see this toilet paper sitting there. I thought:

  • Why in the world would we need toilet paper at a urinal?
  • this seems quite out of place
  • the toilet paper should be by the toilet
  • no good can come of this.

I kept out of it, finished my task, washed my hands and went on with my day.

Later that day, I returned. Now things had progressed. There was a sheet of toilet paper on the grill of the urinal. What the world? Someone must’ve used it then thrown it into the urinal. This sort of defies logic, since urinals are only designed to flush liquid. Ignoring the situation I finish up, wash my hands, then go on with my day.

That afternoon I returned for a third time which is a result of too much coffee. This time there was an out of order sign on the urinal and I could tell that it had run over. Shocking, how could this have happened? (note the sarcasm) The urinal was out of commission for the following day.

The day after everything was back to normal and all urinal visits weren’t worth blogging about (finally, eh? … adding the accent for my American friends). The following day, however, it was a different story. I went to the urinal and there was a piece of toilet paper in the urinal again. Seeking to be proactive I sought out the cleaning staff and alerted them to this impending failure since I just wasn’t feeling up to rescuing the toilet paper on my own. A half hour later the crisis was averted.

I decided I was sitting on some pretty serious intel so I needed to let the management know why they were having issues with their urinal. It wasn’t a draining issue as they suspected, but rather a user issue. Someone was using the urinal in a manner it was not intended to be used. This was kind of like my use of the table saw on the day of my injury. I was using it in a manner it was never designed for and improper use can have significant consequences.

What other safety lessons can be learned from the urinal scenario? First, if you see something that doesn’t look or feel right, alert others about it or rectify the situation yourself. Second, just because you’re able to see something as an issue don’t assume everyone else will. Third, some people will only learn from their mistakes if they feel the consequences of their decisions … we need to continue to work with people in this category to explain the potential impact of their unsafe decisions. Oh, and remember to wash your hands.

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