Archive for Asbestos

Why I Rarely Post

Posted in Engineering, Irregular Features, Posts that are far longer than I first intended, Tenuous Link of the Day with tags , , , on March 22, 2012 by awickerman

Saw this job advert – a trainee asbestos surveyor – and was somewhat surprised at how little it pays (15-17k) for someone with an engineering degree working in Kent/London. Especially given the many, many opportunities for engineers on such low profile jobs as Crossrail and High Speed 2. And the fact that if you do really well, get trained up and get a few years of fibrey death experience you might get up to 25k (or might get barely more than a trainee).

Sadly I ended up poking around the Office of National Statistics trying to find out what a typical engineering degree actually pays, which I soon realised was far, far too much research for a blog read by up to several people. Of course I could just rely on one of those self-selecting salary surveys. Equally I could use tarot cards or astrology, which I suspect would be about as accurate. While I’m sure the answer is somewhere, I’m equally sure I can think of better things to do with my time. Hence why I rarely post; I like to try and check the facts are correct, even if the wild accusations aren’t, but I no longer think it’s really worth the time.

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Fun places to work #3

Posted in Engineering, Irregular Features, Mining, Posts that are far longer than I first intended, Your cut-out-and-keep Guide with tags , , , , on September 21, 2011 by awickerman

The intermittent ‘Places I have absolutely no intention of working at’ continues and this time takes us to Africa and the sun blessed paradise of Zimbabwe. In particular the wonderful town of Zvishavane, whose name is derived from the ancient Shona word for “Hills full of deadly fibrous silica minerals” (This fact may not be technically true.)

An Asbestos Mine in Zimbabwe. I think that covers it really
If this looks familiar, well done. Most asbestos mines do look somewhat similar when viewed from above.

Being in the people’s paradise of Zimbabwe means there are a few twists to the usual logical contortions one finds at Asbestos mines. For starters the entire place is embroiled in an argument about who owns it, the government having taken it from it’s legal owner in one of those dramatic seizures the Mugabe government is justly famous for. Unusually in this case it wasn’t white farmers suffering but black industrialist, however the general thrust is similar. As you would expect it’s gone badly, almost as if government cronies know nothing about real work; production has collapsed and most of the workers have been sacked, so it’s not a pretty sight.

Following the typical pattern the locals are quite keen on Asbestos and have even roped in school children to look endearing and try and get the place churning our fibrey death again. However with a fairly racist empowered Minister of Mines in charge turning away offers of support on the grounds the investors are white and driving the rest away with barking mad mining laws I predict this situation isn’t going to change any time soon.

Now you might argue this is a good thing, after all most people do agree Asbestos isn’t good for you so while it’s a shame for the miners in the short term in the long term at least they wont die of a horrific Asbestos induced disease. There is but one flaw in that way of thinking, most of the locals are going to die of AIDS or Tuberculous before they get a chance to develop a long term Asbestos disease. Besides Zimbabwe has been importing vast quantities of Asbestos from Brazil and Russia in the intervening time, so I can imagine the locals thinking it might as well be local Asbestos being used as opposed to foreign imports.

On this basis I think I can safely say Zvishavane tops the previous efforts, yes its name might not be as amusing but the combination of AIDS, TB, Asbestos and Zanu-PF make it by far a less fun place to work.

Fun places to work #1

Posted in Engineering, Irregular Features, Mining, Tenuous Link of the Day with tags , , , , , , on January 15, 2011 by awickerman

The wonderful town of Asbest, a Russian one-industry town dedicated to the mining of Asbestos, the clue is in the name.

Leaving aside the whole ‘It’s an asbestos mine’ thing Asbest manages to be particularly horrific as the mine is on the edge of the town.

Beautiful hey? As an added bonus read this old article from Slate,where every local appears to be intent on boring the reporter to death by explaining the many different types of Asbestos and why you wont automatically die just by living in the town. All of which may be true, they certainly mine the least dangerous type of asbestos, but it is all a little ‘The lady protests too much’.

So there is Asbest, a town where the only industry is mining and processing Asbestos and the entire population will bore you to tears trying to desperately convince you the place isn’t instantly fatal. Yet another place to avoid seeing before you die. And to avoid after death as well to be frank.

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