Monday, March 20, 2006

Monday March Madness, part 3

Y'all were just waiting for this, weren't you? This post is right up my alley. Blood, people getting shot, trips to the ER. My completed manuscript has a whole scene in the ER and a couple of instances of people getting shot. And yes, my life has involved some blood and a few trips to the ER as well. As one nurse told me, I'm kinetically challenged. Let’s just say Peter being married to me has been good preparation for his job. He already knew his way around an ER before this.

By the way, you can tell he’s not a writer: he double spaces after periods. Okay, here's Peter's post.

Your house was dangerous to build! That’s what I discovered after only a few days in my current job as Superintendent/Safety Manager. Walking through a busy jobsite, I felt a “ping” that hit my jeans just below my right hip. A nail from a nail gun “deflected” from a block and, well, let’s just thank God that physics took place, and the nail lost a lot of velocity and momentum! I’ve been working for a local framing company with about 200 employees, and we have been very busy for the last 3 years (the Phoenix Valley is 2nd only to Las Vegas in new homes being built). I enjoy my job, but it has its downfalls (literally!).

Last year, we had over 20 injuries. Besides the various job-site injuries that are very hard to prevent (i.e. falls from ladders, stepping on/getting cut by exposed nails, back injuries, cuts from using hand saws, etc.), over 50% of our injuries are from the hundreds of nail guns that our crews use daily. Nail guns, if used properly, are easy to use, and they are safe. It’s when you forget the safety aspect of it (like looking at what you are aiming at!) that it becomes dangerous. I just took a guy in to the local urgent care because he shot himself in the foot. He said he reached down to pick up the nail gun, and accidentally pulled the trigger. Good thing he was aiming low!

Our guys are very creative in how they injure themselves! Last year, one of our guys shot a nail in his hand (we went to the ER with this one!). The nail went through the base of his thumb, and ended up going through the joint (you could even see the tip of the nail on the other side of the thumb!). They could not pull the nail out (we sat in the ER for 3 hours, and my poor employee just sat there with a nail sticking out of his hand!), so he needed to have surgery. Then, only one month later, one of our foremen shot himself in the shin. The nail penetrated fully into the bone (don’t you love the description here? ☺ ). What hurt worse was when “they” (in the ER) cleaned out the wound. By the way, I know little about health, but when the doctor injected saline into the wound (to clean it out), even I knew it was gonna hurt! Needless to say, he quickly switched over to sanitized water after our injured employee almost passed out!

The best one so far was early last summer. Our favorite victim was walking on top of the roof trusses, setting blocks between them. He bent down and reached for a nail gun that was hanging from the rafters (he was about 15 feet above ground), accidentally pulled the trigger, and “shot himself” in the chest! The first guy who noticed something was wrong didn’t see the accident, but rather saw a small waterfall of blood dripping onto the floor! When I got the call from the foreman, he asked, rather sheepishly, if they should take him to the hospital. I said, as calmly as possible, to “CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY, YOU--[ed. note: I write for the CBA, remember?] The fire department showed up in record time, and they transported him to the ER. The nail fully penetrated into his chest (3” nail is the norm), and missed his heart by about an inch and a half! I met him at the hospital. Needless to say, they were prepping him for surgery. He was/is fine, and was back on the job 3 weeks later! Oh, by the way, the whole jobsite was shut down by the fire marshal, because none of the roads was paved.

Not all “creative” injuries are from nail guns. Two months ago, a guy was using a nail puller (we call them chivas) to pull nails out of a wall … at eye level! Yes, he smacked himself in his nose, and got 6 stitches for the effort. Four days ago, a guy was using a nail gun while on a ladder, lost his balance, and fell down. As he hit the ground, he lost his hard hat, and then was promptly struck by the falling nail gun! Yes, he got 8 stitches for that act! Then, finally, my personal favorite was our version of the “magic nail”. Our employee “claims” that, while nailing a wall together, the nail went through the block, bounced off the concrete slab just below, and flew underneath his safety glasses. It ended up lodged in the top of his nose, not even ¼” from his eye! Lucky for him. He ended up with minor vision problems for a couple of weeks (and a good headache or two), but is now fine.

Believe it or not, but we do practice safety. All of our guys wear hard hats and safety glasses, and all of our nail guns have safety springs attached (before the guys disable them!). But after you shoot a nail gun a few hundred times, it becomes a little monotonous, and safety flies out the window. Chances are, someone got hurt while building your cozy home. Maybe it was just a scratch, maybe more. So when you complain about the roof leaking, or the floor creaking, or the door squeaking, just remember that the hard working blue-collar framing company had nothing to do with it! Blame it on the roofers, or the tile guys, or the door installers. And if you ever pull up your carpet and look at your slab, don't be surprised if you find some blood stains.

1 comment:

Malia Spencer said...

Ouch! Let me guess, next week will be Peter talking about any injuries he got?

BTW is this a permanent guest blogger or just for the duration of March Madness? :)