There’s more to safety than equipment and gear. It’s also attitude and priorities. It’s making a conscious effort to work safely, to slow down and to pay attention. Construction professionals are often a “tough guy” bunch. That is (and I’m no better), men tend to downplay injuries of any sort. Many working men have screwed-up hands, joints, knees, etc., simply because while young, paid no heed to what they were doing to their bodies. This comes back to haunt one later in life. Don’t be so tough! If it hurts, get it checked. Macho pride isn’t going to do much good when one is sore all the time.
Safety must be a priority. And often, that priority can be addressed simply by slowing down and observing what’s around you. I’d like to know the statistic on injuries and fatalities caused by sheer klutziness. For example, I had band practice last night, and I play guitar and violin. My violin was leaning against an amplifier behind me while I stood and played guitar. I took a simple and small step back, and stepped on the violin, breaking a string but luckily, nothing worse. Often, I’m in such a hurry to scurry. If I would simply look down once in awhile, I’d avoid a lot of stubbed toes, banged ankles and kicked chairs.
Sherlock Holmes often reprimanded his chronicler, Dr. Watson, by saying, “Ah, my dear Watson, you see but you do not observe.” Even when we see and know what is around us, we can be so caught up in the business at hand, a dangerous slip or trip might be a moment’s distraction away. See and observe.
In Chip Macdonald’s article in High on Safety, he points out that drywallers and tapers have the fourth highest overall fall fatality rate behind those of roofers, ironworkers and electricians. And with increased availability and versatility of manually propelled mobile scaffolds, scissor lifts and aerial lifts, the ratio of falls from these types of equipment is relatively large and could increase with continuing negligence.
Many contractors employ Hispanic workers and as I report in next month’s Trade News, at least one OSHA representative is stating that Hispanic worker death in construction is at an “epidemic level.” Epidemic is a strong word. It means a “rapid, widespread occurrence,” according to Webster’s New World College Dictionary. This is utterly tragic and completely unacceptable. This will be the topic of an article in an upcoming issue of W&C.
So please, take your time, work safely and make sure others are working safely. Nothing is worth wasted life.