There is a video floating around the Internet that goes like this...
The scene opens on a reporter. Behind the reporter is a motorcycle with a rider aboard, stationary beside the road. The reporter is describing a safety system with which the motorcycle is equipped. Tied into a heads up display in the motorcyclist's helmet; this system is designed to give advanced warning of cars entering the highway ahead and not noticing the motorcycle. This is a major source of motorcycle fatalities. This would be a great system, right?
The reporter completes her narrative and the motorcyclist prepares to pull out onto the road. A car is staged ahead in a side road for this demonstration. All eyes are on the car on the side road. The motorcyclist pulls out, directly and immediately in the path of a truck that is approaching at a high rate of speed from the rear, seen over the motorcyclist's shoulder. He is killed.
How many safety incidents like this do we encounter in our mills? We are focused on the potential safety issue in front of us when another is lurking beside or behind us.
These can be literal, real physical safety issues or hypothetical ones. They are a real danger.
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Once, I was working a rebuild outage. My job was to manage the night shift for my employer, the mill's owner. One night as part of our routine, we were walking through the dryer basement, beneath the dryer cans. There were three of us. We heard a noise above us and instantly knew it was scaffolding lumber falling down through the dryer cans. There was only one way out, which the three of us knew. We started running. I was in the rear and other two were pacing me, so to speak. A 12-foot-long 4 x 4 just barely clipped the back of my leg and knocked me down.
No one would let me move until the EMT's arrived, despite my protests that I was fine, just bruised a bit.
What happened next? Well, the EMT's got to me, but they were slightly delayed, for in their haste one of their team members had fallen and broken a finger.
Yet that wasn't the half of it. The poor worker had been in the top of the dryer sections, standing on the scaffolding that slipped down through the dryers. He was left hanging on to a piece of overhead steel that he had grabbed as his footing slipped away! The place was so noisy (we had close to 400 workers in the building) that no one could hear him yelling for help. He was about fifty feet above ground, down through the dryers, from where he was. Finally, when his arms were about to give out, another worker just happened to come along and rescue him.
I was young, our whole team was young, and we never thought to examine the source of the accident to see what might be going on there. Fortunately, everyone was all right when all was said and done.
We have fire watches, perhaps it is time to implement backside watches.
For safety this week--think, think, think. Perilous conditions abound all around us.
Be safe and we will talk next week.
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