Safety Musings

jmellc

Senior Member
Location
Durham, NC
Occupation
Facility Maintenance Tech. Licensed Electrician
I value safety but I see some idiotic circuses around it.
A safety officer told me last year that if a lanyard ever gets used to lift an object, it cannot be used again for safety. So who keeps up and documents that? Each lanyard would need its own safety officer to follow it around 24/7 and certify it each day. Or use the honor system & each of us report ourselves if we ever slip up & lift a tape measure or tool bag with it. Or we could spy on each other & snitch.

A safety officer constantly lectured us on ladder stickers, to keep them clean, not scuff them, etc. I talked to a guy whose company sprayed clear coat on their ladders & it helped protect the ladders. I suggested that to the officer. She said we couldn’t do that without documentation from the manufacturer that it would not weaken the ladder. Our ladders were marked with paint. I asked her if the paint had been certified to be safe. She called me a smart aleck. She also brought us out stepladders to use in trenches, propped up against the side. We had all just been lectured about only using stepladders spread out. I asked about legality of this and asked if there weren’t special trench ladders we could get. She said she didn’t know. Took me 10 minutes on Google to see some. I texted pics to her & she didn’t speak to me the rest of the week.
I had one boss that did safety meetings every Monday morning & it was the usual, not pulling plugs by the cord kind of stuff. We had a trailer for the scizzor lift that had a badly cracked board. I stayed after him for 6 months to fix it. He had every excuse under the sun not to & said just avoid the crack. He finally had it fixed when 2 others fussed about it.
I recall a foreman who had safety meetings every week in front of the supply trailer. Trailer was accessed by 2 pallets leaned against it to use as ladders.
 
I texted pics to her & she didn’t speak to me the rest of the week.
Sounds like your time was well spent.

Safety as a goal is sensible. "Safety" as many places do it is not- the people pushing things do not know the jobs or the methods, only "do it this way" and "don't do that"; unless they can explain why and provide an alternative, they're just spouting. They also tend to fixate on the small specific things, like not scuffing the ladder stickers.... better to look at things like "are the ladders tall enough for the use?" followed by "I'll make sure you get the right ones".
 

Hv&Lv

Senior Member
Location
-
Occupation
Engineer/Technician
I value safety but I see some idiotic circuses around it.
A safety officer told me last year that if a lanyard ever gets used to lift an object, it cannot be used again for safety. So who keeps up and documents that? Each lanyard would need its own safety officer to follow it around 24/7 and certify it each day. Or use the honor system & each of us report ourselves if we ever slip up & lift a tape measure or tool bag with it. Or we could spy on each other & snitch.

A safety officer constantly lectured us on ladder stickers, to keep them clean, not scuff them, etc. I talked to a guy whose company sprayed clear coat on their ladders & it helped protect the ladders. I suggested that to the officer. She said we couldn’t do that without documentation from the manufacturer that it would not weaken the ladder. Our ladders were marked with paint. I asked her if the paint had been certified to be safe. She called me a smart aleck. She also brought us out stepladders to use in trenches, propped up against the side. We had all just been lectured about only using stepladders spread out. I asked about legality of this and asked if there weren’t special trench ladders we could get. She said she didn’t know. Took me 10 minutes on Google to see some. I texted pics to her & she didn’t speak to me the rest of the week.
I had one boss that did safety meetings every Monday morning & it was the usual, not pulling plugs by the cord kind of stuff. We had a trailer for the scizzor lift that had a badly cracked board. I stayed after him for 6 months to fix it. He had every excuse under the sun not to & said just avoid the crack. He finally had it fixed when 2 others fussed about it.
I recall a foreman who had safety meetings every week in front of the supply trailer. Trailer was accessed by 2 pallets leaned against it to use as ladders.
I’m glad to know we aren’t the only ones that have to go through that..
Our safety guy was promoted to that spot because his dad used to be the CEO here. We hear almost exactly what you do, scuffing stickers, metal tags legible on gas cans, etc.., then he goes in his office or rides out to “field check”.. he’s at home parked in the back...

I agree with Mike Rowe.. “Safety first” is a lie, it’s just a nice saying to make us all feel good.
With ALL of us, safety is further down on the list in our jobs and our daily lives..
Think about how safe we truly are and how many risks we take daily, sometimes hourly...

 

infinity

Moderator
Staff member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Journeyman Electrician
I value safety but I see some idiotic circuses around it.
A safety officer told me last year that if a lanyard ever gets used to lift an object, it cannot be used again for safety. So who keeps up and documents that? Each lanyard would need its own safety officer to follow it around 24/7 and certify it each day. Or use the honor system & each of us report ourselves if we ever slip up & lift a tape measure or tool bag with it. Or we could spy on each other & snitch.
I agree about the lanyard why would you use something to protect your life that someone may have used to lift a heavy object? But you're correct it's often about policing yourself. When the foreman gives you an old lanyard you can give it a visible inspection but you'll never know what the last guy did with it.

And I agree that some of this stuff is just moronic like banning stickers on a hard hat and banning the leaning of a ladder which is often the only way to safely reach a location. Manufacturers have finally caught on and now manufacture ladders that are designed to be leaned. This should shut up the safety police.
 

augie47

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Tennessee
Occupation
State Electrical Inspector (Retired)
My experience over the years is "Safety First"........ depending on the cost
 

hillbilly1

Senior Member
Location
Atlanta,Ga
Occupation
Field coordinator/ technical support
It’s a lot about liability too, lawyers make a good living off minor safety violations, not common sense. Take the ladder stickers, someone weighing 300 lbs takes a 50lb light fixture up with them on a ladder rated say, 200 lbs. Ladder is doing a dance as the person goes up, giving a good indication it’s overloaded. Ladder breaks, employee gets hurt, sues the employer, and wins because the sticker is unreadable. Common sense would have prevailed when the ladder started balking at the weight.
 

ActionDave

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Durango, CO, 10 h 20 min without traffic from wing
Occupation
wire pulling grunt
.....banning the leaning of a ladder which is often the only way to safely reach a location. Manufacturers have finally caught on and now manufacture ladders that are designed to be leaned. This should shut up the safety police.
Not really, there is a big push to replace normal step ladders with platform type.
 

infinity

Moderator
Staff member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Journeyman Electrician
Not really, there is a big push to replace normal step ladders with platform type.
Yup try and get a podium ladder in a tight spot. The project I'm on now started out with no regular ladders, only podium ladders and Baker scaffolds. That latest about 2 weeks. :rolleyes:
 

ActionDave

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Durango, CO, 10 h 20 min without traffic from wing
Occupation
wire pulling grunt
It’s a lot about liability too, lawyers make a good living off minor safety violations, not common sense. Take the ladder stickers, someone weighing 300 lbs takes a 50lb light fixture up with them on a ladder rated say, 200 lbs. Ladder is doing a dance as the person goes up, giving a good indication it’s overloaded. Ladder breaks, employee gets hurt, sues the employer, and wins because the sticker is unreadable. Common sense would have prevailed when the ladder started balking at the weight.
I think that is the tiniest part of the whole safety system. I think the largest part of it is aimed at coming up with a quantifiable metric that can be plugged into a spreadsheet and used to appease insurance companies.
 

ActionDave

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Durango, CO, 10 h 20 min without traffic from wing
Occupation
wire pulling grunt
Yup try and get a podium ladder in a tight spot. The project I'm on now started out with no regular ladders, only podium ladders and Baker scaffolds. That latest about 2 weeks. :rolleyes:
I know. I'm living through the same type of ordeals. Someday not to far away I'll prolly have to have my van inspected to see if I have any contraband personal elevating equipment in the back.
 

jmellc

Senior Member
Location
Durham, NC
Occupation
Facility Maintenance Tech. Licensed Electrician
Not really, there is a big push to replace normal step ladders with platform type.
Platform ladders are ok where you might work a long project in one place. A major pain to care, move & set up in tight quarters. More expensive too, raising the cost of work.
 

jmellc

Senior Member
Location
Durham, NC
Occupation
Facility Maintenance Tech. Licensed Electrician
I think that is the tiniest part of the whole safety system. I think the largest part of it is aimed at coming up with a quantifiable metric that can be plugged into a spreadsheet and used to appease insurance companies.
Very true too. Insurance companies see such things as preventive measures.
 

hillbilly1

Senior Member
Location
Atlanta,Ga
Occupation
Field coordinator/ technical support
I know. I'm living through the same type of ordeals. Someday not to far away I'll prolly have to have my van inspected to see if I have any contraband personal elevating equipment in the back.
Because most of our guys are remote, they don’t expect a visit from the office. Some of the things we find in their vans .......
 

jmellc

Senior Member
Location
Durham, NC
Occupation
Facility Maintenance Tech. Licensed Electrician
If it
I agree about the lanyard why would you use something to protect your life that someone may have used to lift a heavy object? But you're correct it's often about policing yourself. When the foreman gives you an old lanyard you can give it a visible inspection but you'll never know what the last guy did with it.

And I agree that some of this stuff is just moronic like banning stickers on a hard hat and banning the leaning of a ladder which is often the only way to safely reach a location. Manufacturers have finally caught on and now manufacture ladders that are designed to be leaned. This should shut up the safety police.
lifted something lighter than
Yup try and get a podium ladder in a tight spot. The project I'm on now started out with no regular ladders, only podium ladders and Baker scaffolds. That latest about 2 weeks. :rolleyes:
Or how about the “belt buckle rule”? If your belt buckle goes above the ladder, you Ned a taller ladder. That has forced me to use 10 foot ladders with 8 or 9 foot ceiling grids. Real good for the grids.
 

hbiss

EC, Westchester, New York NEC: 2014
Location
Hawthorne, New York NEC: 2014
Occupation
EC
Podium or platform ladders have always been around but how useful are they? Aren't you restricted to whatever the working height of the platform is? Don't most of us move up and down a step or two to work comfortably?

-Hal
 

jmellc

Senior Member
Location
Durham, NC
Occupation
Facility Maintenance Tech. Licensed Electrician
Podium or platform ladders have always been around but how useful are they? Aren't you restricted to whatever the working height of the platform is? Don't most of us move up and down a step or two to work comfortably?

-Hal
Sometimes you can work from a lower step but not always. Usually don’t have much place for tools or material either. Heavier & wider footprint too. Plus more expensive. Ok to have one on hand but I would choose a standard ladder if I could only have one.
I do like a particular one at one of our buildings. I use it to do LED retrofits. I can tape a tube box at each side & make one trip up to do the light.
 

jmellc

Senior Member
Location
Durham, NC
Occupation
Facility Maintenance Tech. Licensed Electrician
I’ve mentioned here before that I would like to see safer designs in buildings. 2 in our city are a perfect example, both restaurants.
1 has a huge “attic” above a 20 foot high ceiling. To get there, I had to get a 32 foot extension ladder into the place, from a mall parking lot. Set it up near the bar, go up & open a hatch. Come back down, move the ladder & extend through hatch. Climb up to attic & have to walk beams to wherever we needed to work. Some areas had nothing close by to hold onto. Attic was full of junction boxes & various equipment so others too would always need access. A couple of the main beams could have had wide plates welded on & a few cables overhead to attach a safety lanyard. Ladder steps should be anchored to a wall in a back room & have ceiling hatch there. I worked that attic several times but was lucky not to fall off a beam.
The other was a restaurant kitchen ceiling about 10 feet high. Access hatch was an HVAC grate, not marked at all. Took forever to find. Had to crawl 10 feet in to get to a j box. Again, ceiling full of stuff. This was a drywall ceiling anchored to metal strips. I had to crawl on strips, avoiding screws. Not at all designed for safe access. That type of ceiling should have access hatches within reach of any equipment and they should be clearly marked or obviously be hatches. A night manager came on duty as I was leaving. Turns out, he knew about the hatch but no one else did.
 

augie47

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Tennessee
Occupation
State Electrical Inspector (Retired)
Our State does pretty well enforcing the requirement for a 24" wide unobstructed walkway from attic scuttle hole/ stairs to HVAC equipment. Saved my ole clumsey butt a number of times.
 

jmellc

Senior Member
Location
Durham, NC
Occupation
Facility Maintenance Tech. Licensed Electrician
Our State does pretty well enforcing the requirement for a 24" wide unobstructed walkway from attic scuttle hole/ stairs to HVAC equipment. Saved my ole clumsey butt a number of times.
I’d sure like to see that everywhere. At least a good start.
 

jmellc

Senior Member
Location
Durham, NC
Occupation
Facility Maintenance Tech. Licensed Electrician
I’m glad to know we aren’t the only ones that have to go through that..
Our safety guy was promoted to that spot because his dad used to be the CEO here. We hear almost exactly what you do, scuffing stickers, metal tags legible on gas cans, etc.., then he goes in his office or rides out to “field check”.. he’s at home parked in the back...

I agree with Mike Rowe.. “Safety first” is a lie, it’s just a nice saying to make us all feel good.
With ALL of us, safety is further down on the list in our jobs and our daily lives..
Think about how safe we truly are and how many risks we take daily, sometimes hourly...

I like that video. Totally on target.
 
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