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Old 10th Feb 2019, 12:04
  #66 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Hampshire
Age: 72
Posts: 672
This "elf 'n safety" crap frequently recurs in this forum. And it seriously gets up my nose.
Possibly the derision this topic attracts is from a largely sheltered section of the population who wouldn't know a day's hard work if they spotted one.
I will probably get the usual backlash but I make no apologies for quoting a few examples from my own past.
Shortly after leaving the Army in 1970, I found myself in a variety of jobs while I "found a proper job". For a year or more, I found myself working with refractory products/installations such as power stations, steel works, glass furnaces. Nasty, hot and heavy labour.
One of the earliest jobs was refurbishment of a boiler at a power station (Ince B at Ellesmere Port). Part of the work involved plastic refractory, a very dense, clay-like form of refractory. In order to get this stuff to the work site, one had to climb an 8 storey industrial staircase with a box of this stuff on each shoulder. Each box weighed 1/2 cwt (25Kgs). After a couple of days of this I woke up one day with an excruciating pain in my lower chest, bad enough to restrict my breathing and keep me off work. A day later I returned to work and had to work at a snail pace. This gained me a temporary reputation (undeserved) as a bit of a slacker. My initial thoughts were that I had probably inhaled a lot of the refractory cement we had been using elsewhere on the site. And the pain eventually went away.
Some time later, I was working at the Portland Cement factory near Gravesend. Again very heavy work, re-lining the huge cylindrical furnaces with rings of cheese shaped refractory blocks, then swinging a sledge hammer above my head to wedge thin sheets of steel between the blocks to make a secure ring. Again, the chest pain recurred and I visited the hospital but no cause could be found so it was again put down to inhaling cement dust.
6 years later, the pain returned but I was by now working in the sedate surroundings of a naval transmitter station and the pain was bad enough to almost totally incapacitate me. A visit to the doctor resulted in a few guesses as to the source, ranging from gall bladder to pancreas and sundry other organs. Scratching his head, my GP referred me to a specialist in internal bits who poked and prodded here and there, culminating in the use of a "live" X-Ray thing and this was showing nothing when the nurse who had taken the original still X-Rays, used to check for gall bladder issues, came in and showed them to the Dr. It was a Eureka moment.
After 6 years of this intermittent crippling pain, the X-Ray showed the actual cause; I had 3 crushed vertebrae at the top of my spine, caused by the heavy lifting all that time ago. (And I still suffer from it intermittently now).
Current health and safety rules would not have allowed me to carry 50Kgs up those stairs on my shoulders. The non-existent rules of the day meant I have suffered for almost 50 years, along with the worry that the wrong move could result in one of the vertebrae giving up the ghost, leaving me a paraplegic.
On another job back then I was part of a gang that was patching up a hole in the roof of a glass furnace, a long brick built (mainly fire brick) structure with an arched roof. The fire brick had deteriorated in one spot (quite common) and flames were coming from within. To shut down a glass furnace is an incredibly expensive job so the plan was to erect a scaffolding and wooden plank structure above the roof while the furnace was still burning at around 1300C. We would then take it in turns to walk over the temporary structure (quickly!) with literally a handful of wet refractory cement which was then thrown into the hole, against the brick edges and eventually the hole would be closed. In the early stages, one lad who didn't know better was doing his throwing bit as if he was in the ballet, treating it all as a lark. Then he tripped and the upper half of his body went into the hole. Everyone was stunned but within a matter of seconds the foreman stepped up, grabbed the lads ankles and tipped the whole body in, saying he wasn't prepared to try to recover half a body for return to his parents.
Again, modern health and safety rules would probably have prevented this.
I could mention the time I found myself hanging on to the end of a wire inside a steel chimney, with the foreman hanging on to my left wrist and only fresh air between our feet and the base of the chimney a couple of hundred feet below. No, we didn't have safety harnesses or belts but then we had no harnesses or belts while doing the preparatory work, walking around the outside top of the chimney with only a 4 inch wide steel plate to walk on and sod all to hang on to.
I could go on and on with some of the mishaps I have seen during my time but that would be pointless.
We need Health and Safety rules and they must be rigidly enforced.
We do not need the above ref "zealots" who should be publicly thrashed and we need even less those who seek to make their name & fortune by belittling anybody who thinks it a good idea to ensure the welfare of people is a serious business. (Toe rags such as Littlejohn come immediately to mind).
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