Sunday, October 10, 2010

Some Thoughts On Safety

This is Mike. He's modeling a fall-protection system called a retractable lanyard. We call them retracts or yo-yo's, and they are an enormous pain-in-the-ass. Imagine 20 carpenters all trying to work on the same deck area with 20 yo-yo's. But here's the beauty part: Safety rules require lanyard tie-off if you are over 6 feet above ground, and most retracts are 50-footers--got the picture? Yep, it's that stupid. In this picture, Mike is about 15 feet above ground and his yo-yo is fully extended to its 50-foot length. All that retractable does is slow him down, but if he is caught without the damn thing, it's automatic termination.

Yours truly was "suspended" from work for one day last week. His crime? Walking past some red danger tape. Guilty as charged. At the time it seemed the safest way to get from point A to point B, but the superintendent would hear none of it. I enjoyed the day off and was glad the suspension wasn't permanent.

Carpenter's question-of-the-day: Does it make sense to spend millions on production-losing rules and bullshit "devices" to save the even higher cost of insurance and lawsuit? We could unwrap that one all day long and still have leftovers to last the week.

When rules overrule judgement, does individual responsibility vanish? Do carpenters quit thinking about the safest way to do something and just robotically follow the rules? Should safety rules play to the lowest common denominator, or should natural selection have a hand in who keeps working?

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