• How widespread is bullying within industry – another ERMS story
How widespread is bullying within industry – another ERMS story
04 May, 2017, 1 Comment

Summary: One of our readers is a man who has worked in the electrical construction industry for over 35 years, both internationally and in every Australian state in middle management. Below, is a situation that he witnessed regarding ERMS. All names are changed or omitted to protect the privacy of those involved.....

Our reader, “Andy”, states that ERMS and what it does to people is a disgrace.

He recently had an electrician that worked for him in the technical services department.
“Bill” had an ERMS score of 5, which was issued just a few days before, shortly after he had been made redundant. Bill comes from another country with English as a second language that coloured his accent, however he has been in Australia for 20 years. His English was fine, understandable and grammatically correct both in the written and oral form. As a former university lecturer in maths and accounting, Andy would rate his English around 8/10, probably higher than some native speaking Aussies.

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Bill was moved out of his job on the basis that he could not speak English and other workers could not understand him. 

According to Andy this was grossly incorrect.

The true reasons he was pushed out of his role as a qualified electrician were events that showed up the incompetency of his seniors; as follows:

He was asked to terminate some cables into instruments in the field.

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The cables were installed and coiled at the instruments. The cable coils exceeded the bending radius of the cables. Bill advised his supervisor of the issue and the supervisor came over with a tape measure and measured across the coiled cable-measuring the diameter of the coil (not the radius).

He then turned to Bill and said "look here...you idiot.... the radius is over 50 cm...get on with your job and stop making trouble." 

Bill tried to explain the difference between a bending radius and diameter and was told off and ridiculed by the supervisor.

Related: Man allegedly bullied for hearing impairment sues for $1.8m

Over the coming weeks, Bill was ridiculed for several issues.

When he was terminating a cable into a gland for a Hazardous Area, he used the manufacturer’s instructions contained in the packaging. Another supervisor (not the same one as previously mentioned) came over and ridiculed Bill for following the instructions from the supplier. The supervisor then demonstrated the "correct" method of terminating a cable in the Hazardous area.

The demonstration included:

• the requirement to expose the braiding and shielding outside of the gland
• Failing to tighten the gland to the correct torque
• Using the incorrect size gland.

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Again, when raising these issues, Bill was moved out of the construction crew and placed elsewhere...and so on...until he was placed in the welding team as a spotter (watching if any fires were ignited from welding) and thereafter as a spotter on the loading yard to ensure that vehicles did not reverse over people and objects.

Thereafter he landed with Andy in the tech services where he was involved in reviewing electrical schematics and termination drawings inside MCC's. Bill did an extraordinary job in not only finding cable termination errors, but also logic errors in the engineering design.

Bill was handed an ERMS score of 5...which made his life miserable...ultimately to be let go and never to be employed again.

Do you think this is fair?

What should be done about this form of bullying which seems prevalent in the industry? Are there other forms of bullying you are experiencing?

PS: Incidentally Andy himself was subject to bullying in the workplace, got a low ERMS score, found it difficult to find work and was in a similar position to Bill, for different reasons.

Heather Dawley from WattElectricalNews interviewing someone affected by ERMS, 3/5/2017

  • MyPassion

    04 May, 2017

    I can well believe this to be true. A friend and ex colleague with years of BHP experience, had a bully as the boss. He had the guts to confront and report the matter to management. Within two weeks this person was on report with regular persecution 'meetings.' This fella was a school leader, represented states in sports, amongst the top in tertiary exams, received commendations from top management including a Director,then suddenly this person becomes incompetent. Now figure that out. Integrity, honesty, respect and able to safely speak up should be a practice and not merely a screen saver. Now he just can't get work. How does one find out what ERMS score he has?
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