Human beings are funny people; no matter how risky a task, we can somehow convince ourselves we can overcome the odds and avoid the kiss of death and immortality on a viral video of our demise. A risky new task keeps our attention, requires our focus; routine tasks are a different story. More people die every year from falls less than six feet than from falls over six feet—go figure. The preferred tool of death by falls is the simple ladder, extension or folding doesn’t matter. Letting gravity help you off a ladder is never a good thing. I’ll be the first to admit I have used ladders too short and then stood on the label that states “THIS IS NOT A STEP” to get to that corner I needed to paint. Here’s the fatal part of this plan: Because I did it once and lived, when faced with the same situation in the future, how likely is it I’ll do the same thing all over? Human nature, right? I did it once, I can do it again. Maybe that’s why so many people die falling off ladders—they didn’t fall last time, they didn’t expect to fall this time…ooops.
Having gained a small quantity of wisdom that comes from surviving into my sixties (and surviving the ’60s), I have come to look at tasks with more of a questioning attitude, “What could go wrong and what would be the consequences if it did?” I work much smarter now than I did…usually. Last weekend I needed to replace a defective outside GFCI outlet, but could not figure out the right breaker to shut it off. More than a little frustrated, I was ready to work it “hot” till my better half resolved the issue by insisting I open the main breaker. She was 100% correct (yes, I’m putting that in writing); I should have done that myself. I could have ended my retirement way too early because I was tired of walking around the house between the outlet and the breaker panel. Happily, I survived my lapse of SAFETY common sense.
Being safe at work and at home is a mental approach. Need something to anchor your safety common sense? Try this:
Believe it or not, more people are killed at home than they are at work. Think about it, at work you must wear PPE, wear the vest, wear the hardhat, wear chaps, wear eye protection, lock-out/tag-out and work with the correct tools and equipment. Home projects—probably not as SAFETY focused. Be smart and be safe!
What 23,000 volts from a down wire looks like—see how the electricity flows and spreads!! Step potential!!