Posts Tagged ‘photos’

The “here’s a guy doing stupid things” safety photo genre

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

We stumbled on a photo feature of 11 Cringe-Worthy OSHA violations – and as advertised, the photos are mind-boggling horrific safety violations. Darwin awards waiting to happen. (In a similar vein, the Naval Safety Center Photo of the Week has been logging such violations for a long time now – 445 weeks, to be precise. )

We have mixed reactions to these photos. This genre of “people doing stupid things” photos and videos are immensely popular on the web – whether the stupid acts occur in the workplace or elsewhere. It’s the age-old slipping on a banana peel gag. Sometimes, their popularity can be attributed to simple schadenfreude. Sometimes, watching people do stupid things makes the viewer feel superior in a “ha, at least I am not that stupid” way. And sometimes, laughter is rooted in a whistling-by-the-graveyard coping mechanism. We see this frequently in police, firefighters, and other emergency workers, whose job-related black humor might be shocking to people outside the industry. We see this same type of black humor in a lot of safety professionals, too.

But while we’re as fascinated as the next person by these type of photos, we admit to being a bit humor challenged. Perhaps we’ve just seen the flesh and blood results of workplace injuries a little too often to find photos of this nature particularly funny. Astonishing? Yes. Cringe-worthy? Yes. Instructive? Often. Fascinating? Frequently. But rarely do we find them ha ha funny. Where some see idiots, we see untrained or inexperienced workers and horrible calamities waiting to happen.

The poster says she assumes that most of these violations are taking place in countries where OSHA doesn’t have jurisdiction. We don’t have any way of knowing where these photos actually did take place, but while that seems a fair assumption, we would caution about too much national superiority. For all we know, these workers could be offshore employees of U.S. firms. We are pretty sure that if U.S. workers were left to fend for themselves when it comes to workplace safety, we’d see some comparably “humorous ” pics. But, never underestimate some of the safety horrors that go on right here in OSHA-land. Here’s a recent example: Blogger Patcick McDonough points out a safety violation in Chicago.

Dangerous jobs: window washing at extreme heights

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011


Image from Wikipedia

Master Cleaners Ltd a central London cleaning company, has posted a fascinating photo feature on their blog called The World’s Most Fearless Cleaners. We issue a vertigo warning in advance. Also, the caveat that we are not endorsing the safety procedures or lack thereof that are depicted in the photos.
Here are a few more detailed stories associated with the above photos:

We also recommend this dramatic photo gallery from the New York Public Library’s digital archive of Empire State Building construction workers. There are few belts, lifelines, or tethers in sight so it is rather surprising that only five workers were killed during construction. We also found a rare video clip of 1940s-era window washers working on the Empire State Building. (With a bonus of some acrobats doing a stomach-churning stunt on the ledge) And here is a vintage 1934 feature on skyscraper window washers from Modern Mechanix.

Two years ago this month, we wrote about miracle survivor Alcides Moreno, a window washer who survived a 47 story plunge. In that post, we cited the ever-fascinating Free Fall Research Page, which documents reports, stories, and personal accounts of people who survived falls from extreme heights.
If tall structures are your thing, you might enjoy this skyscraper site which tracks the world’s tallest buildings. This thread in Skyscraper City features a few articles about cleaning skyscraper windows.
Related resources
OSHA Fall Protection
OSHA: Scaffolding
No such thing as a free fall

News Roundup: Health Wonkery, DBA, NLRB ruling, and more

Thursday, October 5th, 2006

Health Wonk Review – Joe Paduda hosts Health Wonk Review – the Harvest Moon Edition – a meaty issue with lots ‘o links to substantive posts. With 57 percent of the claims dollar going to medical costs, we are inextricably linked to the larger health-care market. HWR is a good way to keep an eye on the trends.
Additions to the blogroll We’re adding a few links to our blogroll in the sidebar: Labor and Employment Law Blog by George Kittredge and The HR Lawyer’s Blog by Texas labor and employment attorney Christopher J. McKinney – both are worth checking out.
Absolute Shocker of the Week – Worksafe Victoria’s construction safety program publishes weekly photos of dangerous construction work sent in by inspectors and subscribers so that they can be used for safety training or tool-box meetings. hosts and archives these Weekly Shockers and Bodgey Scaffolding photos.
Defense Base Act (DBQ) – The Defense Base Act extends workers’ compensation benefits to employees working for private employers affiliated with the military or certain government-related business outside the continental. Learn more about coverage and 10 Things You Should Know About the DBA. Actually, the article lists 17 things you should know. Regardless of the number, it’s a good overview.
Topical funThe Drugs I Need – an amusing animated music video clip about prescription drugs by the Austin Lounge Lizards.
NLRB rulings – Jordan Barab provides an in-depth analysis of the National Labor Relations Board’s recent Kentucky River rulings from the labor perspective. The rulings set parameters about who is considered a manager and who is considered an employee. Jordan discusses how this ruling excludes millions of workers – notably nurses – from union membership. He quotes extensively from the dissension offered by two Board members. Wilma Liebman and Dennis Walsh.

“Liebman and Walsh point out that the legislative history of the act distinguished between real supervisors “vested with such genuine management prerogatives as the right to hire or fire, discipline, or make effective recommendations with respect to such action ” and “straw bosses, leadmen, set-up men, and other minor supervisory employees.”

“… Walsh and Liebman note that unlike real supervisors, charge nurses do not have the ability to hire, fire or discipline, nor do they have any formal role in the employee grievance process. In addition, they spend the vast majority of their time in line work “a fact that strongly tends to establish their status as s minor supervisory employees.”

“… Today’s decision threatens to create a new class of workers under Federal labor law: workers who have neither the genuine prerogatives of management, nor the statutory rights of ordinary employees. Into that category may fall most professionals (among many other workers), who by 2012 could number almost 34 million, accounting for 23.3 percent of the work force.”

Hazardous duty: Earl Dotter photographs America working

Monday, February 23rd, 2004

You must visit the extraordinary site of photojournalist Earl Dotter. He describes his work better than I ever could:

For 30 years, the camera has enabled me to do meaningful work. Starting in the Appalachian coal fields, and continuing through the years over a broad spectrum of industries and regions of the country, I have observed and documented the working lives of Americans. Standing behind the lens, I have celebrated the accomplishments, the pride and the skill of workers and community activists … When I walk through a mine, mill, or on board a fishing vessel, I find myself drawn to those individuals who emanate a sense of personal worth and belonging to the human family. When I experience tragedy in the workplace – death, disability, and exploitation – I use the camera to explore not only the person or event, but my own reaction to it. If I am successful, then the viewer will be better able to stand before the photograph and feel the intensity of the moment as I myself do.

I came upon the site because I used to live in Portland, Maine, and someone there was telling me about an exhibit they had seen last year, The Price of Fish – Our Nation’s Most Perilous Job Takes Life and Limb in New England. Interestingly, the exhibit was sponsored by Maine Employers’ Mutual Insurance Company (MEMIC) as part of their Safety Academy’s outreach, and if you take the time to view the photos you will see how appropriate the exhibit was for this purpose.

His book The Quiet Sickness first chronicled South Carolina textile workers with brown lung disease (or byssinosis) as a consequence of exposure to cotton dust while on the job at the local mill. Photos from several other chapters are available also, and they are very powerful and poignant images, often quite raw – I found the healthcare worker photos particularly troubling, perhaps because I have family full of nurses. Also, the agriculture and food production photos are disturbing – I hadn’t thought of quite how many risks are taken to keep my refrigerator full.

It’s easy for those of us who work in the industry to be caught up in the claims and the dollars every day and forget what is at the heart of this business. Earl Dotter brings that home.