Danger! Danger! Mr. Electrician Man

In my many years of working with different people, on different crews, in town and out, I found a high proportion of men that enjoyed working out of town.  They liked the idea of not having to be home every night and away from the observation of their wives.  And, likewise, there were many women – waitresses, clerks, etc. – who recognized that quality about them.

One café we used to go to eat in was located in central Montana.  It had some young wmen working as waitresses.  At that time Marty Robbins had a popular hit on the radio called “Devil Woman.”  Every time I walked into that café, whether with a group of men or alone, one particular waitress would drop coins in the juke box and play that tune.

I never learned her name.  I can’t tell you what she looked like.  But she scared me.  I was very cautious around women like that, knowing how men and women acted.  The tune always reminds me of that circumstance.  It was a danger that many ignored.

Another danger that is part of our work environment is the danger of enclosed spaces.  I have talked about pole climbing, ladder work, flying, and electrical shock.  Underground work is also a dangerous area for electricians.  The news will sometimes carry a story about a worker in a ditch that gets buried by “slough off.”  There is also a very real danger associated with working under buildings in crawl spaces.

One job I was given was to do some electrical work in an existing store.  It was an older building, at the time unoccupied, with very little space between the floor and the earth.  When the building was constructed a crawlway had been left along each side and across the front of foundation in the front of the store.  I was sent to the job by myself.

For access to places in the middle of the floor, I had to crawl between the floor joists.  To actually access the crawl area, you had to use a trap door back by the ally.  I was doing some installations at the front of the store.  To get the wiring to that spot, you had to drill a hole down through the floor and run wiring under the store, either alongside or across the floor joists to the back of the store where the service panel was located.

I would crawl from one end of the building to the other, working over my head, as I ran the wiring from one end to the other.  Some places I couldn’t crawl through.  I had to wriggle through.  I was working alone and crawling around under that floor when I started to think about my situation.

I started to wonder what I would do if an earthquake occurred while I was underneath that floor and all alone on the job.  Right there I nearly psyched myself out.

Lesson learned.  Always have an emergency escape plan and always have someone near in case of an emergency.