Putting Safety First... A Lesson Learned

As adults, we base our decisions and actions on life experiences, education, training and consequences. Much of what we learn on the job is applied at work, but useful off-the-clock as well. A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I decided to renovate the deck, off the front of our house. It needed paint and after further inspection, the wood was so weathered, we decided to replace it. My wife asked me how long to remove the railing, spindles and header trim, my reply was, "about five to ten minutes." Wrong answer! Most of decking came apart with ease, except for the header trim which was attached with screws that had been puttied over. I couldn't find the screw heads, and that's where the lesson begins. I went into my garage and gathered what I thought were the appropriate tools... a six foot stepladder, a mini-sledge hammer and a pry bar. Rule number one, do not rush the planning stage of any new project. I carried my tools down to the deck area, wearing only shorts, a t-shirt, flip-flops and a pair of safety glasses. At least, I was wearing safety glasses! I crawled midway up the ladder, holding the pry bar in one hand and the sledge in the other. I took a couple of swings, the six foot board barely moved, which meant I just had to swing a little harder, right. Well I did! The board was knocked free, and down it fell onto the ladder's paint tray extension as it made its way to the ground. It was one of those slow-motion moments. When the board hit the paint tray extension, it catapulted me backwards onto my back with the ladder falling in the other direction. As I laid on the ground, I raised my head only to find the sledge and pry bar feet away in different directions and somehow I was missing one of my flip-flops. Kind of scary how quickly an accident can happen. I was fine, I got my bearings and finished the job without any further drama. Two weeks later, I was in a safety refresher class here at work. Can you guess the topic... That's right, Ladder Safety! How ironic, don't you think? The class went over the do's and don'ts including: positioning, working height, securement and three-point contact. Again, this blog post is about the importance of applying life lessons, training and all of the things that make us successful in the things we do. So, whether you're working on the job or at home, remember safety first!