Although many things have passed from my memory over the decades, I still remember the day I fell off an outside construction elevator four stories above the ground.
I was a lad of 20 and moving my way through broadcasting school at Columbia Academy of Arts preparing for a career as an announcer. But as all who have attended school know, it is imperative to work at the same time to be able to cover bills. So, at the time, I was pulling in a healthy paycheck with a summer job in construction.
The day in question was a warm, summer Monday morning, and I was assisting a journeyman named Billy Brown (really!) installing carpeting in a new apartment complex. After backing the truck up to the construction elevator we pulled out a rolled, 12 foot length of carpet that weighed about as much as the Honda I was driving. We tossed it on our shoulders and staggered through the smashed boards and mangled metal that had missed the trash bin.
Climbing into the elevator we tried to fold the carpet roll in half to squeeze it into a coffin-sized contrivance. I was pressed against the side of the building, Billy at the other end of the carpet and somewhere in this melee was the elevator operator. We reached the fourth floor, I stepped into the building and, as Billy would regale the co-workers later, I promptly disappeared.
The gap between the elevator and the building was sufficient to swallow me to mid-thigh. When I had pulled myself out, I was asked if anything was broken. Since nothing was, we picked up the carpet and got on with the day. I did, however, have scabs and bruising up and down both legs for several weeks.
Flash forward to today as I’m working on fine-tuning specialized safety training modules. I’ve written dozens lately – Incident Investigation; HAZCOM; Bloodborne Pathogens and & Due Diligence to name a few. The regulations now set by governments, regulatory bodies and the company are extensive and sometimes intricate. Fortunately, the workplace culture, too, has changed. Now we consider safety as a core component of the workplace rather than the credo of ‘man-up’. I don’t think ‘accidents happen’ has a place in our business lexicon today. The key-word now is ‘prevention’.
That Monday morning long ago I came close to becoming a statistic. I’ve seen others become statistics. You can never forget, instead we force ourselves to remember because the most important part of safety training is not memorizing the regulations, but rather iIt is recognizing how suddenly things can happen and that no-one is invincible.
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Ed Wildeman is training manager and facilitator with PRIME Learning Group specializing in Safety Training, Human Resources, Leadership and Communications. His seminars and workshops have been attended in almost every province and state. Currently he is studying advanced theories of corporate Culture.