Sometimes Safety is an Assumed Concept

Many of the buildings that existed in Spokane when I moved here in 1969 have been torn down and replaced.  Then again, several of the older buildings have been renovated and made new again.  One example is the often mentioned Davenport Hotel, but there are also other significant buildings.

When a multi-story building is torn down, safety requirements usually dictate blocking off foot traffic anywhere near the work site.  For one of the tear-down jobs I was on, it meant blocking off all access to the building right to the edge of the street; on all four sides of the building, taking up the whole block.

Some of the construction offices were placed on the edge of the street next to the building being torn down.  Often these construction offices were used for a lunchroom during break times and lunch time.

The electrical foreman heading our job was in his office one day reviewing the blue prints.  He got up from his chair, grabbed his hard-hat and was on his way out of the trailer to go on the job site itself.  Unbeknownst to him, a 2×4 had been knocked off an upper story and came down, end first on the construction trailer.  The 2×4 penetrated the construction office roof, AND the chair he had just vacated.

Usually when you work in the construction office you have your hard hat off.  The incident worried me quite a bit, so I started eating my lunch inside the construction site, wearing my hard hat.  I don’t know what all the other men did, but I decided the construction office was not a safe place to be.

Just lately I watched a television program about taking down multi-story buildings from the ground up, one floor at a time.  It was done to alleviate all the dust and debris from an implosion or other means of destruction.  I’m not sure how it was accomplished, but I would have liked to watch it.

Another instance of safety, from a different perspective, came from an incident with a couple of brothers that think of as troublemakers.  They were troublemakers in the sense that they would travel around and cause problems for the business owners.

For instance, one time on the job, one of the brothers was struck by a falling piece of wire.  The wire was about 18 inches long and about as big around as my thumb.  It struck him on the shoulder from the height of about 3 feet, and he was the person who had placed it on the shelf in the first place.  He “had to go to the hospital” for extensive medical care.  He wound up being compensated for numerous problems stemming from a small occurrence.

The brothers disappeared after that and I never came across them on another job.  But after I moved to Spokane years later, I was talking to one of my friends who owned an electrical contracting shop.  He was telling me about this guy that “amplified” an on the job injury and nearly cost him his business.  He had been sued for lost wages, hospital and doctor costs, etc.  When I asked him the name of the person who had done that to him, it was the same guy.

Trouble maker!

You could be working in a dangerous area, ignoring all the safety regulations and never wind up getting hurt.  Then again, you might be following all the safety regulations and be caught in a disaster.  But why take the chance?

Sometimes “Safety” is an assumed concept.

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