"Safety starts with you." "Safety is priority number one." "Be cool and be safe." These slogans and many more have filled safety boards and posters ever since health and safety became something to abide by. Safety truly is something that doesn't happen overnight. At times employers look for a new way of doings things, a change in their safety culture, or to weed out the complacent and habitual "safety anarchist".
I was on a major construction project that involved heavy machinery, equipment and a lot of man power. The site that was chosen for this project was unique as it was the former site of a massive steel mill. As was the case in the late 70's early 80's during the shutdown boom of the steel belt, the company simply closed the doors, demolished the building and put all of the rubble in the ground and capped it. Sweep it under the carpet right? On this job a contractor was using a hydraulic hammer bit on an excavator breaking apart all of the old rubble. Chipping away one-by-one it seemed like a task that was relatively safe, until one morning where it all changed.
Deep down in the slew of mud, clay, silt and water, a worker installs new pipe for drainage. He's 6 feet deep, working with 5 other workers and feels confident that his company has taken safety as priority number one. He looks around and does a quick safety spot check. Spoil pile 2 feet away from the edge? Plus proper shoring in place and a ladder within 25 feet of us? As our worker goes on with his day he is ever reminded of the dangers of working within the confines of an excavation. You see our worker Mike was in an accident 5 years ago that he will never forget. Mike was buried alive in an excavation. He is fortunate enough to continue to work and live life with his family and friend. So many other people were far too unfortunate.
We've all seen it before - the landscaper using a line trimmer as it throws rocks, grass and dust, all the while the user is squinting trying to protect their eyes. Or, my favorite, the carpenter using a powered circular saw to rip down a piece of ply wood with their eyes closed. What do both of these examples have in common? They are all "hoping" they don't get anything in their eyes and sustain a nasty injury. It's amazing when people do these types of things, assuming that they won't get hurt. However, the simple addition of a pair of ANSI Z87 rated safety glasses can make a world of difference.