Safety Story from Govan Brown’s Director of Health & Safety
During a visit to one of our projects, I observed a worker cutting stone on a sidewalk with a quick-cut saw while his coworker stood beside him, splashing water from a bucket onto the blade to help minimize dust. I noticed the worker’s hand was only inches away from the cutting blade when he was flicking water towards the saw.
I didn’t want to startle them, so I let them finish cutting the stone and then directed them to stop work. When asked why they were using this procedure, the workers replied there was no other water supply available to them and the bucket was their only option. I pointed down the street to a hardware store and said, “How about we buy a pump sprayer with a long wand so you can keep all your fingers?”
The worker looked up at me and said, “That’s why you’re the safety guy!” The next day, I returned to observe them cutting again, this time using the pump sprayer to wet the stone from two to three feet away—there were smiles all around.
A Home Safety Story from an LF Driscoll Project Manager
I had just purchased a new chain saw and decided to cut a branch out of a tree that was growing a little crooked. To access the branch, I used a 40ft extension ladder and extended it to about 26ft. The ladder was leaning on a higher branch, close to the trunk of the tree. The tree was covered in poison ivy, so I was cutting out sections of the ivy on my way up.
With the new chain saw and blade, I knew it wouldn’t be too hard to cut through an 8-inch branch. I wanted to cut through quickly, so the branch would drop straight down. I climbed up about 18ft and started cutting.
My last memory was watching the branch fall.
Evidently, when the branch hit the ground, it bounced and hit the base of the ladder. I was thrown off and knocked unconscious. I landed on top my chain saw—thankfully, the blade landed flat—and the freshly-cut poison ivy. My 10-year-old daughter saw me fall and knew to call 911 immediately.
I had seven burst fractures in my vertebrae, a break in my hip and was covered in a rash from the poison ivy. I spent five days in the ICU. The doctors determined surgery wasn’t required and that the bones would need to heal on their own. I was confined to a bed for the next 12 weeks, but, all in all, my injuries should have been more severe. I am lucky to be alive.
Nearly three years later, I still experience pain and have scaled back my “weekend warrior” projects to smaller ones. I always thought I would be quick enough to catch myself if I fell. No matter what you think, gravity is quicker than your reaction time.