The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

Is Barminco Over the Top?

Graham Marshall - Friday, March 01, 2013

Are the management of Barminco at Agnew gold mine correct in their decision to sack and ban for life 15 employees for performing a silly rendition of the Harlem Shake Dance on site?

The dance has become a hit on You Tube.

The dismissal letter sent to each of the sacked workers shows Barminco considered the stunt a safety issue and a breach of its "core values of safety, integrity and excellence".

But is Barminco Management being too heavy-handed over this?  And is it really a "health and safety" issue for the company?

As the You Tube video shows, there is certainly a failure by some workers to wear their personal protective equipment.

But a transgression over the use of PPE is fairly minor in the scheme of risk management and would normally warrant a verbal warning and some coaching and mentoring for a "first offence".

I reckon that if Barminco Management are honest, they are using the excuse of "Health and Safety" as a way of getting rid of these guys rather than stating their real concerns over the potential negative reputation impact of the video.

And that is what bothers me as an HSE professional - when managers - or workers - use "health and safety reasons" as an excuse for poor decision-making.

I can't honestly see how a decision to sack employees under this circumstane can possibly help to develop a mature safety culture based on trust and mutual respect at Barminco.

It does seem a little overkill to me and way beyond the "risk" involved.

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