Mar. 24th, 2009

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We have a general safety course we need to retake every two years. I'm not going to say how many times I've taken it, but it had been so long that I could remember when the presenter's hair and his Ektachrome slides both still had some color. Not only that, I could tell most of his best stories as well as he could. ("Here you see a gauge the foundry said they were checking every hour. It's on this duct here, and to get to it they laid a twisted scrap-steel ladder sideways across this gap 30 feet wide, with a 70-foot drop to a pile of jagged scrap iron which also, it turned out, was electrified with 4,800 volts from a frayed power cable...")

Time and the advent of computer technology have finally killed Old Guy's Ektachrome, in favor of New Guy's Power Point Presentation. It's a step up. Also, due to the wonders of modern technology, we up here in the wilderness were able to sit in via teleconference instead of driving seven hours on slippery roads to attend our safety training. So this year's course was far less horrible than it might have been.

Some things haven't changed, though-- or have even gone backward.

When I was in about third grade, the teachers and principal would herd us into the auditorium for some movie they wouldn't tell us about, but I knew what it was going to be. It was going to be another safety film from the Make 'Em Puke school of cinematography.

We learned that if you threw a stone at a railroad train, it would bounce back with what a later generation would call "laser-guided accuracy" and strike you in the eye. Every time. Gouge it right out and down your cheek, with appropriate leakage of blood and other materials, screaming, and full sound effects. And that's the one that's mild enough I can tell you about it. The Power Tools safety film was a real winner, where among other things I found that a table saw could kill you in a manner more often associated with Vlad Tepes. And I won't even go into the one about the danger of child molesters.

At least I thought, once I was past fourth grade, that nobody would subject me to that crap again. I was wrong.

No, Boys and Girls, Your Tax Dollars are Still at Work! Because our power point safety presentation included embedded videos about the dangers of going without your safety equipment.

The Consequences of No Face Shield involved taking a blast of CGI lime green goo in the face from a leaking pipe, toppling backward over a railing, and falling sixty feet to the concrete floor. In slow motion. With sound effects. Not to mention the close-up of the guy with no face vomiting what was no doubt some combination of Redi-Whip, Spam, and Green Jell-O.

This attempt to jerk me around by my emotions made me angry enough that I developed a sudden need to go to the next room and find a glass of water, and for some reason it took me several minutes to figure out how to operate the taps. Well, it WAS in a building where I last worked about ten years ago, so a little difficulty with such a technically complex piece of equipment is only to be expected, I guess. Thus, I accidentally missed the video about the dangers of no safety shoes and the one about rummaging through boxes of razor blades without your Kevlar gloves.

The presenter had a couple more he wanted to show us, but he couldn't get them to run. He apologized.

January 2015

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