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As I celebrate my last shift as a paramedic, now 4 years ago. I recall responding to a significant number of emergency cases where people have fallen. Some lived, some did not; others lived with disabilities. Most, in retrospect, would have been preventable with a little common sense and pre-planning. In a recent meeting with fellow contractors, I heard about several cases of recent falls. Some requiring ambulances or helicopters. Others have fallen and “lucked out”– falling just under the injury reporting radar. We call them near misses.
In EMS, we call Idaho, “The hold my beer watch this state.” I admit I too have fallen. In one particular fall, I thank my cat-like reflexes for saving my life. Now that I am older and wiser, I pick my steps more carefully.
Who Here Has Fallen through a Ceiling?
Those darn ceiling joists are slippery and drywall, as great as a product as it is, cannot hold a person up. No need to test it, you can just take my word for it. This guy got held up by the arm-pits, other guys are not so lucky.
Your best intentions are not good enough.
Assume that the worst is going to happen. When you install protection, do it as if you are the one that is going to step on it by mistake. Keep people out of harm’s way. Use caution tape and think like an engineer. They always make things with an error margin of 4x.
Several stories exist of people stepping on protection only to have it slip away and or break and allow the unwitting to be injured. Who needs that? We are all so valuable and precious, no one should be injured on a job site.
OSHA & Common Sense Are Rules, Gravity Is a Law
Fall protection is so important, but it needs to be reiterated, if you are above 6′ you are at risk of a serious injury. You need to be using your brain and your OSHA-approved fall protection. The life you save may be your own. There is no need to fall off a roof. There is no need to step through holes. There is no need to get eye injuries, or lose hearing for that matter.
Inhaling dust of any kind is not good for you either. Getting chronic lung disease is not the way you want to spend your retirement.
Some Safety Sayings You May Know
- You can argue with gravity, but you will never win.
- It’s not the fall that hurts, it’s the sudden stop.
- Using PPE is the only way to work safely.
- Keep your head on a swivel, we are a family looking out for each other here.
- Remodeling is as dangerous as you let it be.
Statistics Are Scarce
Try as I might, I cannot get injury statistics for the remodeling industry in the state. The information is locked up in some vault in Florida. The folks that set the price for workers comp say they use them, but they are proprietary. No matter how I ask, I keep getting the run around. My goal was to start a campaign to decrease specific injuries and see our results, but that is not going to happen any time soon. Deaths are rare, but there are plenty of statistics on that. In the mean time we harp on safety and know it is for the better good. Be careful out there!
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If you or someone you know is considering remodeling or just wants to speak to a trustworthy remodeling contractor, please contact me. You’ll be glad you did.