--Just curious if you're coming down this way for the holidays; I could probably scare up enough folks for a class. I've set up a seperate space for all the welding equipment so it's not as crammed up as before..
This time of year I always hope I get to set up or work a job with strip heaters. If I'm firewatching, I'll grab a lightbulb or two from a nearby lightstring and stuff them in my coat. Damn those florescent bulbs in the wintertime! Incandescent rules when it comes to personal heaters.
I've made friends among the contract firewatches by giving out those little handwarmer packets. I figure those people are there to save my life in an emergency, they had better be able to pull the pin on that fire extinguisher. I also get paid a lot better than they do. I can afford to buy the heavy clothes for me and handwarmers to pass out, whereas they may not be able to afford to feed their kid regularly.
Fire is a constant risk when performing any welding, and the consequences of a fire starting or getting a good hold (which happens very quickly and often unnoticed by the weldor under a hood) can be millions of dollars in damages and/or personal injury and is one of the reasons that subcontract weldor's insurance (commonly $5million is required) is so expensive.
IMHE, Pretty much any industrial jobsite that is serious about risk/safety management will require a 'hot work permit' be obtained for any work that involves an ignition source (often including use of any type of internal combustion engine) and that these permits have conditions that usually include firewatchers during and for some specified period after completion of work. The completed/expired hot work permits are passed to the following shift or watch to ensure follow-up. The firewatchers are often subcontract safety personnel who may also operate breathing air systems and confined space monitoring duties but are typically paid much less than the tradesmen they are watching/monitoring. They do require certificates of training but that is commonly provided by their employer before the start of the job.
My mileage did vary. I was injured on the job by a negligent contractor at the Sands Expo Convention Center in Las Vegas, who was subcontracting for Primedia, Inc. The contractor was driving me to get a forklift. It was raining. He had an umbrella in front of him, and drove us under a parked semi trailer. He had no license and no insurance. I would have ass-u-med that large companies like Primedia, Inc., Sands Expo Center, and Freeman Decorating would have rules in place to prevent such incidents, but apparently not.
I got a traumatic brain injury, and had to fight for medical attention. The speech therapist and balance specialist said that I had taken so long to get to them that they could not help me. I took so long because the insurance wouldn't okay anything, and I had to appeal every step. I have not worked one day in the past four plus years since it happened. Or is it five now? I forget.
Then, my case came to court, and I got not a penny because the Supreme Court of Nevada had ruled in another case that a workman cannot sue any employee or company on the same job even if negligence can be proven in what is called The Richards Decision. It took three years through legal channels just to find the negligent unlicensed uninsured contractor.
Workmen are not always aware of just what the actual laws are, or the status of any company they work for. What one thinks SHOULD be happening often is not. And when the sparks hit the combustibles, you find out that most evaporate, or just let their upper liability limits pay for what the limits are, and the corporation or LLC dissolves, or liquidates, and the small people are left holding their pocket marbles.
I have no respect or trust for any big business or the government now. OSHA is a joke, as are most safety programs at companies. I studied for Associate Safety Professional until I found out the job was just to advise the company how to tapdance inside the lines and avoid liability. Hold safety meetings, and have everyone sign that they were there, so that when there was an accident, the company could say that the employee was responsible. In the meantime, just git r done, even if you had to stretch the rules about ladders and slings and such. Or don't do it, and get a pink slip ROF on Friday.
Steve - I recognise what you say. Here in UK, what the law says makes a lot of sense - "safe, so far is as reasonably practicable". But pass the implementation to managers (what the law says you should not do!) and you can't stop the whole thing becoming exactly as you describe.
First, I retitled this thread, and apologies to Ernie for hijacking it.
Reality will always be what it is. I had a long work experience in heavy stuff, and there was times you just had to stretch the envelope or think outside the box to get it done. The times that things went wrong in those improvised situations were fewer than just dumb accidents that dropped out of the sky, or someone tripping, or the likes. It's a jungle out there, and each man decides just how far they will stick their own neck out. That is the ones who have been around a while. The new ones will volunteer for dangerous duty more often. And then there are the inattentive, the sloppy, and the careless.
No one wants to witness or be a victim in an accident. I've seen and been through some bad things, and they stay with you.
1) The prime motivations for company safety and risk management programs are all self interest and CYA. Accidents cost money and result in lots of paperwork and lost time. 'Blame the victim' is the common 1st strategy both before and after an accident..
2) Worker's(?) compensation programs really only exist and function as a way for employers to limit their own liability and costs. Collecting benefits or compensation for actual loss is a difficult heavily bureaucratic process that is often worse than the actual injury. The more serious an injury, the worse it is. Many deserving claims are denied without cause and many injured workers find themselves in a situation reminiscent of the worst of the 1800s industrial revolution or 3rd world.
3) Safety is a PERSONAL responsibility, we must always look after our own personal safety and interests. No job or (cheap) 'attaboy' is worth our personal health or physical security. IMHO, 'Git r dun' is an attitude for fools, both those asking and those doing. We are all just working ourselves out of a job at the best of times, and we have a moral and (usually) legal responsibility to refuse to perform work that places ourselves or others at risk. If that requires quitting a job before injury, that is preferable to leaving after. Years later you will have forgotten the lost jobs (and any resulting financial hardship) but physical injury remains forever.
4) As bad as the workplace is, the accident rates of small employers, small independent contractors, hobbyists and farmers is MUCH higher than heavy industry, often due to work practices that would not be tolerated in heavy industry.
For those who think that safety is just 'common sense', I offer the following, "Common sense is a myth based on the assumption that everyone has the same training and life experiences, and would use the same thought processes to reach the same conclusion."