October '15

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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112 || P R I N T W E A R O C T O B E R 2 0 1 5 Dan Danbom is a Denver writer and the author of "Humor Meets the Workforce: Make Laughter One of Your Organization's Goals." LAST LAUGH B Y D A N D A N B O M Be Careful Out There I s your workplace clean and safe? As I wander from workplace to workplace in my never-ending quest to go to places uninvited, I'm fascinated by how some workplaces are cleaner and neater than your average operating room, and how some look like the af- termath of Hurricane Messy. I guess I'm more sensitive to this than the average person because I used to work in a loud, machine-intensive industrial setting where cleanliness was equated to safety and poor housekeeping was a gate- way to workplace injuries. So obsessed was my employer with work- place cleanliness that it conducted regular Watch Out For Oil on Floors! campaigns and lived in mortal fear of the three-headed hydra of injury: slips, trips, and falls. When someone got injured because of an unmopped spill or care- lessly-strung extension cord, the company would issue a memo to every employee in a heavy black border befitting an obituary. In this message we would read about "Disabling Injury #41." The injury would be detailed in a clipped, police report style, such as, "Injured was walking to storeroom on evening of 6 January at approximately 7:13 p.m. when he tripped over an unattended toolbox, falling approximately 30 stories into a giant container of molten outer- wear. Injured is expected to miss four days of work." Our su- pervisor would gather us to read the report aloud, and we would discuss the hidden menace of the unattended toolbox and how the accident could and should have been avoided. Where I work now, I have to be aware of different hazards. Chem- icals, fumes, and emissions are pretty common, and without the proper training and care, you can damage fingers in pencil-sharp- eners or put a staple into the fat part of your thumb. I can speak from personal experience the unpleasantness of this. I refuse to wear a tie because of an unnatural fear that it will get caught in a printer and strangle me. And I worry about the germs my co-workers will spread because they won't even wash their hands after rebuilding a car engine. Also, I'm not sure under what conditions they made their lunch that I might surreptitiously eat. I have to say that the manufacturers of chemicals, tools, and oth- er potentially hazardous stuff have come a long way in warning us about the hazards of their products. The stuff I spray on the ants to keep them from carrying off my house warns me to wash my hands before attempting to chew gum, and to dispose of my clothes if any spray gets on them. It also makes clear that I am not to use the insec- ticide as an ingredient in soup. And we're all familiar with the safety warnings you hear on pharmaceutical ads. I have always thought that if a side effect of a drug to control hay fever can cause blood to come out of your ears, then hay fever isn't so bad after all. Yes, we're much more safety-conscious than ever be- fore. When I got one of those foldout cardboard sun shields that you put in your car's windshield so that your seats don't melt, I noticed that even it had a safety warning on it that read, "Do Not Leave on Windshield While Driving Car." This was brought to my attention after my third crash. This is an example of what I call The Dilemma of the Safety Professional: how can you effectively warn someone of a product's potential haz- ard if the person you're warning is too dumb to read? Maybe some kind of international graphic showing the "no" circle with a bar through it over a guy driving a car with the sun shield still deployed? Life's full of hazards, folks. Be careful out there. Especially if I'm driving.

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