Hi Ernie - how are you doing, anyway?
Know you are busy and rarely will hear from you here. Takes nothing
from frequent appreciation of those pointers of yours which helped go
down the right direction along the years.
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
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.
"Elephant: A mouse built to government specifications."-Lazarus Long
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.
Good luck, YMMV
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
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?
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.
I'm done now.
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
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.
I suspect we will (all?) agree that
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
For those who think that safety is just 'common sense', I offer the
"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."
Just my .02
Worksafe and Good luck,
Polytechforum.com is a website by engineers for engineers. It is not affiliated with any of manufacturers or vendors discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.