Are Your Workers Safe?

By |  November 29, 2006

What will kill you? That’s the focus of TIME magazine’s Dec. 4 cover story.

The author says that in a world where bird flu and mad cow disease dominate the headlines with scary hyperbole, it’s no wonder we’re not really fearful of the things that probably will kill us, like fast food, tobacco use and our daily commute.

That’s because our everyday risks are tolerated more due to repetition; repetition quells the fear. So it’s easy to take our safety for granted during everyday tasks.

Superintendents and their crews encounter a slew of everyday job hazards that appear less threatening with each recurrence, but they’re not. Ear protection and respirators are Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements for many tasks, but you probably don’t need to look very far around the property to see someone taking a shortcut.

When I did tree work, our safety gear was akin to combat: hardhat, leather gloves, long sleeves, eye protection, ear protection and chainsaw chaps (they make vests, too). We would smirk at them — especially the chaps — like we were less of men by wearing them.

But it didn’t seem so silly the day a pair of chaps saved my knee from a running chainsaw. It was an awkward cut on a branch that evidently supported a couple tons of felled timber. About midway into an angled cut, the tree rolled, the saw kicked, and I grazed my leg in an attempt to save my feet from certain crushing. The chaps’ fabric filled the saw and shut it down. I was left with damaged safety gear, but not even a nick on my knee.

Nothing is predictable when working outside. Then there is the human element. A higher percentage of accidents occur after lunch, according to OSHA. That’s precisely the time when we look to make out jobs just a little bit easier. Your workers aren’t trying to hurt themselves, but each shortcut increases myriad risks for injury.

How do you emphasize the importance of safety practices and protocols?

— David Frabotta, Senior Editor

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1 Comment on "Are Your Workers Safe?"

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Accidents can happen to anyone at anytime. Anyone who used a chain saw long enough with felled trees will hit there leg. It is only a matter of time.

    For me it was climbing a extension ladder at the shop going up to a loft for drainage supplies. 100 plus times I climbed that ladder, usually without someone holding the base. Then one day when I was at the top the ladder slipped out and down we went.

    You can never be to carefull.