When my sister saw the cover of last month’s issue, her first question was—will it be a problem that the person in the photograph has no fall protection? She also was unimpressed with his baseball cap instead of a hard hat. We agreed that it would be interesting to see if (1) people noticed and (2) people complained. Well, I’m actually pleased to report that, based on comments I’ve heard, some people did notice. The one complaint we received is reproduced in the Letters to the Editor section on page 96.
When Does “New” Become “Normal” Instead?
I remember stories told by my uncle, a union sheet metal worker, about jobs he completed in the shop and on construction sites. Back in those days, you didn’t expect to have a fall protection device when you were up on a roof. You were supposed to “be careful,” but how you accomplished that was largely up to you. Over time, however, that expectation has changed dramatically, as have rules and regulations. With employers being held responsible, there are even more incentives to comply with safety measures.
With this year being the 100th anniversary of the hard hat, that too deserves a mention here. Many more years ago than fall protection, this important item became expected on jobsites. Of course, that development didn’t happen overnight, and it didn’t happen in time to prevent many avoidable injuries. In fact, my grandfather’s father was a carpenter killed by a falling object on a construction site in 1941. With today’s safety measures, the accident would have been much less severe, if it even happened at all.
Regulations and Expectations
Neither laws nor attitudes change overnight. When it comes to safety though, I think we’ve come a long way. People do notice what’s “missing” in a photo and on a jobsite. People don’t look at a man flaunting safety measures and think he’s “tough” or “macho”—instead, words like “stupid” or “overconfident” come to mind. Although safety measures often are cumbersome and frustrating, at least we are all taking steps in the right direction. So, thanks for noticing!