Safety at Home
A Safety Story from a Structure Tone New York Safety Coordinator
I learned a valuable lesson in home improvement safety, which is that things can go wrong if you don’t think it through. When I was at home installing a hook into the ceiling, I was working my way up a ladder and reached for my drill at the same time. As I began to move up on the ladder, my wife called out to me to stop what I was working on. She warned me that I would be exposed to debris and dust from the drilling, which, if inhaled, may irritate my eyes and throat. She recalled that I had left my hard hat and the other pieces of my personal protective equipment (PPE) in the living room, so she hurried to get them. After putting on my gear, I went back to working on the project, feeling much more assured that I was doing so safely. That one specific instance reminded me that safety doesn’t stop when we leave the jobsite. Safety 360° not only teaches us but inspires all of us to put safety first in the workplace and at home.
A Home Safety Story from an LF Driscoll Project Manager
I had just purchased a new chain saw and decided to cut a branch out of a tree that was growing a little crooked. To access the branch, I used a 40ft extension ladder and extended it to about 26ft. The ladder was leaning on a higher branch, close to the trunk of the tree. The tree was covered in poison ivy, so I was cutting out sections of the ivy on my way up.
With the new chain saw and blade, I knew it wouldn’t be too hard to cut through an 8-inch branch. I wanted to cut through quickly, so the branch would drop straight down. I climbed up about 18ft and started cutting.
My last memory was watching the branch fall.
Evidently, when the branch hit the ground, it bounced and hit the base of the ladder. I was thrown off and knocked unconscious. I landed on top my chain saw—thankfully, the blade landed flat—and the freshly-cut poison ivy. My 10-year-old daughter saw me fall and knew to call 911 immediately.
I had seven burst fractures in my vertebrae, a break in my hip and was covered in a rash from the poison ivy. I spent five days in the ICU. The doctors determined surgery wasn’t required and that the bones would need to heal on their own. I was confined to a bed for the next 12 weeks, but, all in all, my injuries should have been more severe. I am lucky to be alive.
Nearly three years later, I still experience pain and have scaled back my “weekend warrior” projects to smaller ones. I always thought I would be quick enough to catch myself if I fell. No matter what you think, gravity is quicker than your reaction time.