Actually, On-The-Job Safety Is A Laughing Matter

In This Section

Vol 37 Issue 21

Woman Wonders Whatever Happened To Those Rainforests She Gave $5 To Save That One Time

NORTHGATE, CO–Audra Smoller, 39, who donated $5 to the Save The Rainforests organization in 1997, was struck with curiosity Monday about the fate of her arboreal beneficiaries. "I wonder how those forests wound up making out with my five bucks," Smoller said. "I guess they were saved, because I never read anything in the paper about them getting cut down." Smoller added that, should another ecological crisis arise, concerned parties should not hesitate to approach her for assistance.

Heroic Cancer Sufferer Inspires Others To Get Cancer

SAN DIEGO–Diagnosed three months ago with terminal lymphoma, David Bradley, 46, has stood as such a stirring example of courage in the face of disease that he is inspiring others in his community to get cancer. "Seeing David and the way he's bravely battled this thing, I couldn't help but follow his lead," said neighbor Timothy Willis, injecting himself with a concentrated dose of the carcinogen trichloroethelene in an effort to contract the disease. "David understands that every day is a precious gift. Pretty soon, I'm going to realize that, too." Said Mandy Pitnick, 14, chain-smoking three unfiltered Camels: "I want to be a symbol of hope just like David."

Church Member Not The Same Since Unsuccessful Choir Tryout

PORTLAND, ME–According to parishioners at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Mary Raines, 58, has "not been the same" since her unsuccessful audition for the church choir last month. "Ever since Mary failed to make the cut, she sits in the back row for Sunday services and barely sings along," fellow parishioner Bill Genzler said. "Last weekend, she left the church bazaar an hour before it ended. That's just not like her."

Guard Yo' Grill Against Them Computa Bitchez

Yo, whassup, Gs? H-Dog in tha house. Do all y'all recall, back in tha day, tha beef between tha Accountz Reeceevable posse an' tha west-wing Tech Support krew? Them computa bitchez wuz fuckin' wit' mah flow, switchin' mah software on me an' tellin' me I can't put no desktop image on mah computa screen. Well, I called bullshit on that. I won't go into all tha detailz again, but suffice it to say I had them computa bitchez runnin' scared an' didn't have no mo' trouble wit' them. That is, until yestidday.

Human Rights And The U.S.

Recently ousted from the U.N. Human Rights Commission, the U.S. is no longer the world's human-rights leader, according to Amnesty International. What do you think?
End Of Section
  • More News
TV Listings
Just Like Everything Else!: Fox 8 p.m. EDT/7 p.m. ABC Pete's wife is still on him about building that darn shed, these kids are going to be the death of Sheila and Dave, and the hot next-door neighbor is up in EVERYBODY'S business! Sunday nights on ABC couldn't be any more familiar!

Special Coverage

Energy

Healthy Eating

Actually, On-The-Job Safety Is A Laughing Matter

As a factory metalworker, I enjoy almost limitless opportunities to be maimed or killed. The Red River plant where I work has its own foundry, smelting plant, steel-forming works, welding line, pipe-bending assembly room, and dozens of other accumulations of heavy industrial equipment capable of removing fingers and heads. It's a good thing, then, that management makes the effort to post signs reminding us that "On-The-Job Safety Is No Laughing Matter!" Thanks for the heads-up, guys.

What the folks at corporate HQ don't seem to realize is that, for those of us who have to work with all this incredibly dangerous machinery every day, the idea of on-the-job safety is a laughing matter.

Let's set aside, for the moment, the obviously hilarious sight of watching a 12,000 RPM band-saw blade launch some idiot's fingers across the factory floor. Or the lifetime of Jesus impressions awaiting the poor slob who takes his eyes off the drill press for even a second. Miss your mark, and it's instant stigmata. But the funny thing about on-the-job safety is how the higher-ups act like its importance never crosses the minds of the actual on-the-job people.

Have you seen the signs? They're pretty funny, really. "WARNING! MOLTEN STEEL!" "DANGER! HIGH-SPEED BLADES!" "ATTENTION! HIGH-TEMPERATURE, HIGH-VOLTAGE WELDING TIP IN USE!" As if we weren't aware. Excuse me, but I'd been working here three seconds when I noticed the searing wall of heat coming off the vat of liquid steel, the insane shriek of the diamond-toothed bar-stock saw, and the eyelid-piercing white glare of the arc welder.

On the other hand, I'd been working here maybe a month before I noticed the safety signs. Couldn't afford to, really: Look away from the arc-welder tip for two seconds to read the warning on the manipulator arm, and you're a textbook case of workplace casualty. Usually an advanced medical textbook case, too.

Listen, I know what a pinch point between two gearwheels is. I know what acid does to a human hand. And I know what happens if I get caught in a 440-amp electrical arc. The last thing I need is a sign reminding me about it every time I turn around. I've seen guys get their hands caught in the spot-welding jig, and it wasn't pretty. When Jorge lost his arm in the snipper, it wasn't for lack of a huge, day-glo sign reminding him to "Take Care!!!" There's a kind of callous, premeditated malice to those signs that's just plain laughable. If you're laughing in a high-pitched, sanity-eroding kind of way, that is.

The slogans are hilarious: "No Job Is Too Small For Safety At All!" I got a good chuckle out of that one, especially when they put it on the sheet-steel roller mill, a machine that squeezed Bob Atherton's left arm like a zit until his fingers popped off. "Skip That Beer... We Need You Here!" is another good one. First of all, no one who wants to keep their bones on the inside will be operating the high-speed metal lathe drunk. Second, if someone does slip and put a two-inch dovetail joint in his forehead, anyone who witnesses it is going to need something a hell of a lot stronger than beer to erase the image.

And let's not even get into the filmstrips and lectures. Sheer comedy. Anyone who's been here at Red River for a while has seen a lot of stuff they'll never put in the films, like the difficulty of cleaning off the blood stalactites you get on the ceiling over the carborundum saw when something goes a little squirrelly. And the lectures are always given by "safety experts" with fancy college degrees–not to mention intact sets of fingers and toes. I suspect they're the same guys who, at the end of the year, have all kinds of laugh-out-loud reasons why trip guards and face shields can't be installed on the forge press.

Yeah, on-the-job safety is a laughing matter, all right. It's a big fucking joke.

Next Story

Onion Video

Watch More