During the last several months, there have been several experienced local construction tradespeople who have had serious accidents on the job, which were completely avoidable. In each case, their experience and ease of doing their job may have been the largest contributing factor to the accident.
Accidents on the job or in the home occur when people get too comfortable in doing their tasks and they no longer fear the hazards around them. This is why 52 percent of all car accidents are within five miles of the home — drivers are less focused and more lackadaisical as they get closer to their house and comfort zone area.
Most accidents are avoidable. The more you prioritize safety with good habits it lessens the chance of your involvement in a serious accident. The first step is to never lose fear of the hazards around you. Then proactively look for unsafe conditions. Quick safety evaluations as you enter an area will help you spot glaring safety concerns.
Be safe all the time. A lot of accidents occur when you do something out of the ordinary in a special situation quickly. A roofer may be leaving the jobsite for the day and realize in a quick glance that he left his favorite hammer on the peak of the roof. Rather than pulling out his safety harness and taking the necessary precautions against a fall, he quickly climbs a ladder to retrieve his hammer. In an instant, he could slip and fall off a roof killing himself.
Another example is wearing a seat belt in a vehicle. Everyone reading this column at one point or another has hopped in the car to quickly go around the corner to pick up something from the store. In their mind, buckling their seat belt would take more time than taking the trip. Plus, back in the day, no one wore seat belts. Everything is okay until another car runs a red light, slamming into your vehicle, tossing your head into the windshield or ejecting you from the car. Safety experts will tell you that this lapse in safety protocol is how many people die.
Being cheap is another way in which accidents occur and people get hurt. Most old tools belong in the trash or in a museum, but not on a jobsite. Dad’s old saw without a guard or safety brake, a frayed cord and worn-out blade will cause someone to lose a few fingers. Sure, those old tools were workhorses and they would cut and drill through just about everything.
However, look at many of the old carpenters from the 1960s and 1970s and count their fingers. Being too cheap to replace or having a sentimental attachment to an old and unsafe tool is foolish. Purchase new and safe tools, because buying a $99 saw is a lot less costly than losing a finger.
Never use a damaged ladder or makeshift climbing apparatus. Falls on the jobsite and at home are one of the leading causes of serious accidents and deaths. A fall from just three feet can kill someone, and in my view one of the most disrespected areas of safety. The old ladder with the bent leg or missing rung is an accident waiting to happen as well as a makeshift ladder using a five-gallon bucket on top of a chair.
Find a buddy who will loan you a ladder or rent one if you don’t use one often enough to buy it. Using a proper ladder is especially important for older people with brittle bones and less mobility. Most importantly, if you are a senior who is unsure if you should climb a ladder, then don’t.
Don Magruder is the CEO of RoMac Building Supply. He is also the host of the Around the House TV show on LSTV and LakeSumterTV.com at 1 and 6:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; and at 7 a.m., Noon and 6 p.m. Saturday.