March 9, 2015

Safety Hits Home

By Paul Bieber

Here I am, this fancy-pants glass consultant and writer. Many of my articles and blogs talk about the importance of a safety culture in the glass industry. Safety has to start at the top and be stressed at every level of your company. But, of course, when you go home at night, you are allowed to relax your guard. Here’s my story.

Sunday afternoon, Elaine and I were volunteering at a holiday party at our Synagogue. She was teaching little kids to bake cookies, and I was the guy sitting behind the sheet of painted plywood with a two-foot hole cut out in the center. Sitting on a chair, I was the target where kids were throwing wet sponges.

(Yes, I know many adults who would pay for that privilege, as well.)

We were having a blast, with the five and six year-olds giggling with delight when the sponge hit me in the face and water went everywhere. Including onto the blue tarp, placed there to protect our floor.

Now, we didn’t think about protecting our people, just the floor. Elaine came out of the kitchen to throw a sponge at me. (This is by far less expensive than marriage counseling.) Fortunately, she missed, laughed and turned to go back into the kitchen, when she tripped on the blue tarp and went down.

Later we went to the emergency room because she couldn’t move her arm. The X-rays showed a break. Monday we went to the orthopedist who confirmed the break in her humorous, right at the point this bone goes into the shoulder socket. (Trust me, there is nothing humorous about breaking a humerus.) Four weeks immobilized in a Velcro sling; no driving; no lifting, you get it.

I saw this damn tarp on the floor, and if I had walked into a glass shop, I would have instantly said this was a trip hazard. So why didn’t I say this on Sunday. Because I was off-duty? Because it was someone else’s responsibility? Because I had a brain-cramp?

No answer. But a lesson learned. Safety is a 24/7/365 responsibility for all of us, anywhere we go. We should know better… or is the right phrase, I should have known better?

Sorry, Elaine,