Thursday, August 23, 2007


The prospect of getting into an accident is something no one likes to think about. Time and again we hear our managers, supervisors or co-workers telling us to be careful, work safely and use personal protective equipment. Yet, do we really listen? We hear the words, but do we really believe we'll be the one who will have an accident?

There are those who take the safety message at work seriously, and those who do not. Safe work procedures have a purpose. Experience tells us that if we do things right, we'll complete our work correctly and safely. When personal protective equipment (PPE) is provided, this is also for good reason. PPE prevents or minimizes injury or illness to the user.

Sometimes accidents happen when you least expect them. The following true stories prove this, along with a reminder that sometimes they do happen to us….

Lesson #1: Two mechanics were working on a step van and repairing the rear roll-up door. In order to fix the door, they had to alternately "tension" the large spring that assists the door's upward movement. As they took turns tightening the spring by inserting 3/8 inch metal rods into the spring catches, the front mechanic's rod slipped out from the catch. The rebound motion and force made the rod, still in his hand, fly back and strike the other mechanic in the eye.

Obviously, the mechanic who was struck in the eye needed immediate emergency medical attention.

Lesson? Lack of eye protection + inadequate work procedures = serious injury.

Lesson #2: A construction superintendent was observing project operations when a piece of heavy equipment ran over a piece of concrete with its' rear tire. The object became a flying projectile when it "shot out" from under the tire, missed a small stock pile, sailed past a back-hoe and struck the superintendent in the head. Fortunately, the superintendent was wearing his hard hat, or the blow might easily have been fatal.

Lesson? Use of PPE = protection from more serious injury or death.

Lesson #3: An employee was using a bench grinder to polish a piece of metal on the wire wheel. When he turned to talk to another employee, and took his eyes off his work, the piece of metal he was holding became caught between the wheel and the tool rest. His finger was pulled into the wire wheel which instantly shaved off part of his finger.

Lesson? Lack of concentration + improperly adjusted tool rest = painful injury.

Work should not have to be a death or injury experience. Unfortunately, lack of caution and attention can make it one. The next time you hear someone say, "be careful," take a minute to really listen to the message and ask yourself, "Why should I be careful?" The answer is, "because accidents happen when you least expect them-and sometimes they happen to you."

Think about yourself, family, friends and co-workers-don't learn a lesson the hard way!


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