Wednesday, August 31, 2005

It is still all about being safe, isn't it?

A couple days ago, I ventured down the hall to the welding shop. As I got close to the door, a shower of sparks cascaded from the door of the carpentry shop. It seems that one of the students was doing some modification on the metal door frame with a grinder and cutting wheel. He was under the direction of the carpentry instructor. This Instructor (and I use that term loosely) is a certified trainer for OSHA. He is, according to him, all about safety.

I went into the welding shop and completed what I wanted to do. When I came out, the student was still cutting. The instructor "RB" told me that they were doing modifications on the door. The student doing the cutting, the instructor, and another student watching were only wearing safety glasses. Safety regulations state that any cutting and/or grinding operation, requires a full face shield must be worn. I asked "RB" why his student was using only safety glasses and not a face shield. By his proximity and the proximity of the second student, both should have been wearing them as well. His reply. "we are almost done now."

It is OK to be unsafe if you are almost done ?

Accidents can't happen if you are almost done ?

What kind of lesson does this teach the kids ?

It teaches them that safety is a word. It is not a belief. It is not something with which to be overly concerned. It is something that can be skirted if you think you can get away with it.

OSHA was founded in 1971. It is regulated by the Dept. Of Labor. Since it began, it has reduced construction fatalities by 45%. Those are great facts, but they are useless unless we really teach that it IS all about the safety.

His students are currently working on a wall in my shop for my students to use in residential wiring training and projects. They routinely work on the top of the ladder. They do not wear safety harnesses. They climb the wood braces instead of the ladder. I stopped counting the safety violations.

I think, as a project for my class, I may let them observe this class in action and write down all the safety violations they see. I wonder how "RB" would like that. He is a pompous know it all never make a mistake kind of guy. You know, the kind you just love.


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