Time to Spring Forward?

STOP Cutting Corners

STOP Cutting Corners!

This story is part 2 of my Daylight Savings Time Series … Spring Forward; Fall Back

Saskatchewan is a province that doesn’t observe Daylight Savings Time and our safety statistics indicate we often don’t observe safety hazards. In the past I have stated that “Being safe isn’t about living with a complete lack of risk, but being aware of the risks that exist and managing them to a level you’re comfortable with.” So, what happens if you have a greater ‘risk appetite’ than you should? There is a lot of innovation in Saskatchewan along with confidence and a resourceful attitude that says “I can do that on my own, I won’t be defeated by this little obstacle”. Without a doubt, growing up in a small farming community helped shape this “resourceful, never say die” attitude within me.

A couple months ago my garage door spring broke. Even though I had no clue what needed to be done to fix the problem this didn’t seem like too big of an issue to me. After a brief discussion with a co-worker and a freshly heightened sense of safety I decided that I would call “The Overhead Door” company of Regina and get them to fix my door. It was about $150 bucks and was fixed the next day. Prior to my injury I’m almost certain this would be a task I would take on possibly with a little help from YouTube.

A couple weeks passed and I was talking with my neighbour who told me he was thinking about me because he had a friend who was recovering from a serious hand injury (I get that a lot). His friend had a garage door spring that broke and he attempted to fix it on his own. While he was working on the spring it let loose then suddenly the wrench whipped around and hit his hand. Feeling the immediate pain he grabbed his damaged hand and went into the house where he asked his son for a band-aid. His son said “Dad your thumb is gone!”

It happens that quickly. There’s no time to readjust or get your hand out of the way. I recall immediately after my injury the wood from the tablesaw kickback hit my hand and I thought “I want a do-over”, but it was too late the damage was done. Looking down, my hand was in pieces and it only took a split second. The solution isn’t in the split second it’s in the hours, minutes, and seconds that precede an injury.

There was a popular video game in the early 90’s called Lemmings, where these poor little creatures met their untimely demise if you didn’t select the right tool and do what was required to help them out. The free-hand cross cut I made on my table saw could’ve been made with a hand saw and a chisel in less than four minutes … not much of an investment to prevent such a serious hand injury. Let me ask, what steps of prevention are you missing? Are you using the right tool for the job? Are you aware of the hazards?

In a previous blog I asked “How would missing a hand impact your tasks at work”. I shared that a friend of mine who is a dentist said “he couldn’t afford to do his own renovations in the event a serious injury could occur”. In retrospect I couldn’t afford to be careless or use the improper tool either. I may not have staff dependent on me for their livelihood, but I have a family that depends on me … simply put it wasn’t worth the risk of doing something I knew was dangerous for the amount of time it “saved” me. For more details check out my How Serious is a Hand Injury blog or this Garage Door Safety site, but be warned both these sites have images with graphic hand injuries.

It is not my intention to fear monger, but it makes sense to approach each task with safety as a focal point. One of the common causes of injuries is “Unknown or Unaddressed Hazards”. Take responsibility for your safety and familiarize yourself with potential hazards especially when a task isn’t familiar to you. Similarly, don’t ignore a hazard that has potential impact on your safety. If your problem happens to be your garage door spring, do yourself a favour and call on the professionals.

This Sunday other provinces and states will spring their clocks and watches forward an hour, but perhaps we can all pause time for just a moment to consider … our health and safety.

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