Gut Rumbles
 

July 05, 2004

safety

I broke one of my own Golden Rules last night when that stick of dynamite blew up in my launcher. This morning, I found pieces of the launcher and charred bits of rice paper in the bed of my truck, a good 40' away from The Scene of the Crime. I stopped and thought about that.

How many times have I lectured operators and supervisors in a chemical plant about how nobody EVER gets hurt or killed doing something that he KNOWS is dangerous? Bejus! That was my mantra. If you understand the danger, you prepare for it, you wear the right PPE and you're CAREFUL, every step of the way. Nobody gets hurt.

The one that'll bite you in the ass and fuck you up is the one that you take for granted. It's the job you've done 100 times and believe that you could do in your sleep 100 more times. It's the one where you know the dangers, but you're SURE that nothing is going to happen to YOU. Approach a job with that kind of attitude and people get hurt, or killed.

I dropped that bomb down the tube last night and I didn't back up very far. Hell, I'd done the same thing 100 times before and I knew that I could do it in my sleep 100 times more. Sure, it was a stick of fucking TNT with a triple-blast phospho-charge in it, but it wasn't THAT dangerous to ME. Not right then, anyway.

I got careless and I'm lucky that I'm not sporting some wounds this morning. I am fortunate that I didn't hurt someone else. It's the one you take for granted that'll get you every time.

I'm not saying OUTLAW FIREWORKS! Hell, no; they're too much fun.

But, Got-dammit, be careful.

Comments

All too true. I work in the circuits industry, supervising a shift of 10 people. Being third shift, it tends to be a lot more lax than the other shifts. One area I never let slack, however, is safety. We work with some seriously dangerous shit that is capable of causing serious burns with skin contact, or immediate blindness if you get the shit in your eyes.

Standing orders are *ALL* PPE is to be worn, no exceptions. First infraction, 3 days off. Second time, termination. I know it sounds harsh, but I wouldn't be able to live with myself if someone went blind because I didn't make them wear the proper safety equipment.

I have had to work with dangerous chemicals thousands of times, and I do things the same way each time—the way I was taught—which is the safe way. No amount of lost time or product is worth my, or anyone else's well being. Why try to save five minutes when the result could be a crippling injury you have to endure for the rest of your life?

I think your post is instructive in a lot of other ways. We all encounter dangerous situations throughout life, and we have to deal with them. Assess the situation, figure out how to deal with it, in the safest possible manner, with the least risk of injury (physical or mental), and implement.

Posted by: Anthony L. on July 6, 2004 06:16 AM

Every 4th of July for the past 4 years (with one year off for a "Safety Stand-Down"), the former shipmates gather in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina to take advantage of the lax gunpowder laws in the Palmetto State. In other words; We BLOW SHIT UP! Yes, once a year the quiet pond, woods & meadow behind the Roach Ranch become proving grounds for artillery & mortar batteries.

The story on the "Safety Stand-Down"
The year before, we thought we had thought of everything, including safety. We had fire hoses flaked & someone to man them, in case something went wrong... which it did. We had several mortar tubes ready to go, but had mixed up which shells went with which tubes. Some tubes were just a little more narrow than others; a round cooked-off inside a tube, knocking another "live" tube over, launching a live shell into a pile of un-spent shells, which proceeded to take off all over the yard behind the Roach Ranch, scattering the onlookers. The hose-man was a little slow with the low-velocity fog, but eventually soaked everything down & saved the Ranch. Unfortunately, the pyrotechnic show was over. We took the next year off. With the running and the crying and the exploding...

Posted by: Rob @ L&R on July 6, 2004 08:33 AM

I enjoy fireworks as much as anyone, but they scare the hell out of my dogs. I can live with that up until about 1 a.m on the fouth. About 2 a.m. on monday morning I get pissed. If you want to throw fireworks in my backyard, I will feel free to shoot you. If you have to blow up shit at 2 a.m. on my street , I will shoot you, I am old grumpy and a veteran who knows how to shoot, you have been warned.

Posted by: James Old Guy on July 6, 2004 10:04 AM

heh. we're supposed to wear our PPE in the photo lab at work too, but I never do. those damned goggles fog up my glasses.

Posted by: girl on July 6, 2004 02:16 PM

This is what can happen when idiots (usually young & male) fiddle with fireworks:

http://www.bakersfield.com/local/story/4796907p-4847363c.html

The story is current & from my hometown paper.

Posted by: Hap Arnold on July 6, 2004 04:24 PM
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